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  • Writer's pictureRandy Van Duinen

St. Petersburg Grand Prix - What A Blast

On Sunday I had an incredible opportunity to photograph the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. I have been asked by “Rhino OnAir” radio station to photograph the Grand Prix for them and for St. Pete buzz. I have never photographed a racing event before and was not sure what to expect, or even where to go. It first started out with a photo briefing in the morning, that explained where we were allowed and areas we cannot go. Between the media briefing and talking to some of the seasoned photographers that have photographed many of these events I have a new awareness of the safety issues that surrounds a race like this.

Since I never photographed a race before I decided to ask some of the other photographers that looked a lot more seasoned than I on where I should go and some of the things to look for. “Mr. Ed”, as he introduced himself to me, was a wealth of information he told me some of the better locations and when I should be there, he also informed me that some of the great locations were reserved for national press and TV and not to even try to get to them.

There were two races before the main Grand Prix event so I was able to walk around the track and locate some of the windows that are cut into the screen fences for photographers. I was asked by people after the race “was it cutthroat around these windows” and I was glad to inform them that no, most people would shoot some shots and then allow another photographer to get in and it was quite enjoyable.

Just to give you an idea the noise from these cars are incredible, even with earplugs my ears are still ringing from the sound. But, it’s quite a thrill when you see a Grand Prix car heading straight at you and turn literally inches from where you’re standing. I’m not an adrenaline junkie but I could get used to this!

I had around 3000 images by the end of the day and in my first edit I deleted any that were out of focus or just had cars cut off, bringing it down to about 1500. I still need to go through and probably narrow that down by half to really get an idea of the shots that I like.

My Canon 70 to 200 mm lens was a lens I used the most and produced my best images. I also had my 24 to 70mm lens that was great for the “pit area” and a few of the wider-angle shots to give an idea of the location of the race. I also used my fisheye lens for one shot with the cars and drivers and stands all in the shot together with the camera over my head, I think it was a neat shot. I wish I would have had 200 to 400mm Zoom lens for Canon. This would’ve been the perfect lens to get in tight on some the drivers why they are in their cars.

Just to let you know I had more fun than I was expecting to. The experience was wonderful, the people were great and the weather was incredible and I hope I get the chance to do it next year.

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