11
Sep

For week two of NHRA in Indy I would continue my yearly tradition of doing candid driver portraits in the staging lanes during qualifying. Its always an adventure doing these type shots with an assistant running around with me carrying a softbox. But when the photos come out good it makes all the additional effort worthwhile!

The first time I attempted staging lanes portraits with a studio light, softbox and portable battery pack was way back in 2008 during an NHRA race in Vegas. Click here to see that blog.

With my good buddy Justin helping out we would spend the first professional qualifying session of Saturday roaming the staging lanes and trying to nail good shots of the drivers preparing to race.

Its much harder to achieve these shots than you would think since most drivers are sitting in their tow vehicles until the last possible second when they get out and are helped with safety gear by a crewmember before climbing into their cars surrounded by crew members.

First up would be the pro stock bikes. These are the easiest pro category riders to shoot portraits of since they are always sitting on their bikes. No tow vehicles for these guys to hide in!

Below, one of my first portrait subjects of the day, Hector Arana Jr, would produce one of my favorite images of the day. I literally was down on the ground shooting up at Hector to clear my cluttered backgrounds and just have nice blue sky with puffy clouds.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Pro stock motorcycle rider Mike Berry adjusts his visor as the sun shines down behind him.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Pro stock driver Jason Line.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Funny car driver Robert Hight.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 25iso, f4, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Funny car driver Jeff Arend.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Funny car driver Courtney Force.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 25iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Funny car driver Ron Capps has a little fun with an impromptu photo shoot with National Dragster photographer Marc Gewertz.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f5, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Then he gets his game face on prior to climbing into his car.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 25iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

David Grubnic looks deep into my soul as I shot this photo down low leaning over the nose of his dragster.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 25iso, f5, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Traxxas shootout winner Spencer Massey sits on his wheelie bar of his top fuel dragster in the staging lanes.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f13, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Defending US Nationals champ Antron Brown sits in the seat of his Matco Tools dragster.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 25iso, f8, 1/400th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Top fuel dragster driver Shawn Langdon reflects in the window of his Toyota Sienna tow vehicle.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

Seven time top fuel champion Tony Schumacher gives me the stare down as he climbs from his tow vehicle to make his way to his US Army dragster.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

One of my favorite portraits of the day would be the below shot of Tony all strapped into the capsule of his US Army dragster. The best part about this photo is the car was actually moving as I shot this photo. The crew was towing him towards the starting line so my assistant and I had to work as we walked alongside the car.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f4.5, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobe in Softbox

And that wraps up my third consecutive year at Indy shooting staging lanes portraits. To see the results of the previous two years click the below links.

US Nationals Portraits 2011 (scroll down towards middle for portraits)

US Nationals Portraits 2010 (scroll down towards middle for portraits)

I won’t lie, the whole time I shot portraits during the pro qualifying session I was paranoid I was gonna miss something exciting on the track.

Good thing I did portraits during the first session because things would really heat up in the final qualifying session of the day when I would be shooting at the top end of the track.

First up would be funny car driver Todd Lesenko absolutely detonating a motor in the lights which resulted in a spectacular body tossing inferno. If you didn’t see the blog with the full sequence CLICK HERE!

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

In the very next pair of cars down the track we would have two fires in one pair of cars.

First to light up his car in the right lane was funny car driver Blake Alexander.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual

As soon as his fire would go out I quickly switched to the car of Bob Bode just in time to catch him lighting up in a ball of fire in the left lane.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual

In the below shot you can see the shadow of Courtney Forces funny car racing alongside her parachutes as she slows to a stop with the number one qualifying position for race day.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual

The night would finish with Khalid Albalooshi blowing an engine in a shower of sparks alongside Antron Brown during final qualifying.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

All these explosions made me think I went back in time to the 90′s when explosions were much more frequent than they are today.

Thankfully all the drivers would be perfectly fine.

Click the below link to check out my Toyota Racing blog from the weekend highlighting the nine Toyota drivers in the Nitro categories.

I have a Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to “like” the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!


 
Posted in 10 Spot, Drag Racing, NHRA, Portraits, Racing, Sports   2 Comments

2 Responses to “Fun day shooting NHRA US Nationals staging lane Portraits”

  1. nigel says:

    great portraits Mark……..the isolated light from the Einstein looks neat.

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Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!