On Why Men Love Cars – Formula Japan/FCJ

I finally eked out an inkling of why so many men love their automobiles. I just had to go to watch a Formula Japan qualifier to understand.

I think it came to me right around the time when the first car came flying – literally – down the main straight at 300+ KPH, and the sound of the engine, pistons firing, lit up the grand stand so loud that my head rang for about five seconds afterwards, the vibrations sending chills up my spine. Gear shifts sound like cannon blasts straight out of Gettysburg, or The Last Samurai. HOLY SH-T.

Since it was Saturday (11.03) before the main race, the entirety of Suzuka Circuit was free to roam, and my friends – long time race junkies 😀 – also took me to the hair pin, where the cars are literally 10 feet away…Your neck whips back and forth so fast, I thought I would fall over with dizziness. Incredible. You can literally feel the power and monstrous acceleration through your skin.

Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Wondrous marvels of technological genius-brilliance-scientific magic.

My mom always used to harp at my dad when he watched F1 on TV. “Not that god-forsaken noise again!” Ahhh but now I understand. I understand you dad 🙂

Gallery of all the shots

*Note on the photos: I employed panning to get the “movement” in the shots; panning is a technique where you move the camera in time with the moving object as you take the picture. Because the camera and the subject are moving at relative speeds, the subject remains “sharp”, while the un-moving background is smoothly blurred.

My favorite shot of the day, mainly because, for my first time shooting motor sports, it came out pretty close to how
I had imagined it! I didn’t have to crop this shot at all – a benefit of the added reach of the 7D on my 70-200 lens.

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/4, 1/160, ISO 100 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

The beauty of recent improvement in digital photography means I can heavily crop and still get a perfectly usable image as a final product. This picture was shot
through a cut-out in a fence right by the curve, and we were able to get the extreme low angle – you can almost see the bottom of the car!  I cropped in from
18mp down to 5mp, but the resolution and ultra-sharpness of the new 70-200mm lens holds up extremely well. This car is Takuma Sato, the former F1 driver!

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/2.8, 1/1000, ISO 320 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

There’s something about the sense of speed that panning brings that really makes this pictures seem…almost surreal to me.
Like you’re looking at race cars plastered on to the canvas of an oil painting! It’s other-worldy, but beautiful at the same time.

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/4.5, 1/125, ISO 100 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

One of the really cool things about the cars themselves (and the helmets of the drivers) was how colorful they were. Seems like
pretty much the only way to survive in the racing world – besides winning, duh haha – is to have the financial backing of a good
team and a ton sponsors. The cars are pretty much 300 KPH billboards! I liked the bright orange and anime girl of this car 😀

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/4.5, 1/125, ISO 100 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

A race isn’t a race without the pits! I think these kind of shots help flesh out what goes on “behind the scenes”, and the angle from
the grandstand was perfect for capturing a long cut of the car, pit crew, other mechanics, garage, and the photographers as well.

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/3.2, 1/1000, ISO 200 @ 105mm (168mm equiv)

The hairpin curve could be called a life-altering event – never before have I felt such power and grace all at the same time. You can see the massive heatwave-trail behind the car above, it’s just wicked…The acceleration out of the curve is mind-boggling! I can only imagine the G’s the drivers are under each time they hit the brake and then the gas…

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/3.2, 1/1000, +1/3 exp. comp, ISO 320 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

Did I mention how close we got at the hairpin? 248mm and a slight crop from 18mp to 15mp and you’re almost right next to the driver. Now a 500mm lens… 😀

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/3.2, 1/500, ISO 160 @ 155mm (248mm equiv)

Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) is two or three ranks down from Formula Japan; I think the car designs more reflect this, and they remind me more of the olden-day
race cars. Ai Miura, the sole female driver in all of Japanese motor sports (?) is in car 16. The irony of this picture is that the last two racers on the grid position-
wise are the ones with the most sponsors, and whose teams have enough money to hire “Race Queens” to hold umbrellas for them, even when it isn’t raining!

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/2.8, 1/1000, ISO 500 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

The start of the FCJ race. I always imagined being able to take a shot where you see all the cars heading at you crack out of the starting gate, the heat waves
and smoke in their wake. Unfortunately, as spectators, the best you can get is the close stands to the first curve, but it still offers a pretty nice perspective!

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/2.8, 1/800, ISO 400 @ 200mm (320mm equiv)

We had just come down from the B stands after the start of the FCJ race when we heard a huge BANG and a cloud of dust billowed above us. One of the cars had
just crashed out! We ran down to the side, and I was able to grab this shot of the driver – unharmed in body, but not in spirit – looking down dejectedly at his
wrecked vehicle. My friend told me that at this level they may even have to pay for repairs themselves, meaning that this poor guy’s career might just be over!

EOS 7D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II  f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 100 @ 135mm (216mm equiv)

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