Ahead Of Time

Photographing F1 cars at speed was a new experience for me.  At first I selected a high shutter speed and took the picture when I liked the composition in the viewfinder.  Back in the studio I check the Kodachromes to discover there were no cars in the frame.  So much for my “decisive moments.”    Eventually I learned some basic facts of motorsports photography: at 150mph a racecar is traveling 220 feet per second.  When the eye recognizes a “picture” in the viewfinder it takes nearly a second for the brain to send a signal to the finger to press the shutter.  So from the time one decides to take the picture until the completed act the car has traveled 2/3 of a football field which results in a pile of slides of empty tracks.  The technique is anticipating the picture before it occurs. Ready with the correct exposure and focus I learned to sense when the photograph was about to happen and with practice it began to work.  For the photographers with years of experience it was second nature.

Nelson Piquet in the Brabham:

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