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  • Infineon Raceway Photo Shoot

    Posted on November 20th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    In an attempt to get some additional photographs for the NorCal Goats 2010 Calendar (yeah, it’s November and I’m still working on it) I put together a photo shoot at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Having shot professional events at the Raceway for several years, I have developed a good report with many of the media relations personnel. They were graciously willing to let me have free-range access to the facility for photography!

    infineon raceway logo

    Given the Raceway’s busy schedule, we were somewhat limited on the days that would work for the shoot… basically weekends were out. After a poll on the boards I scheduled the event for today (a Friday) and it seemed that quite a few people were able to have the afternoon off for the shoot!

    Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative. After a week of just beautiful weather, the forecast for Friday was 100% rain. There was a rather large storm moving down from the North… and a single band of intense rain swept across the Bay Area. As one person put it, “Mother Nature stuck her middle finger out at us”. Because of the rain, many of the cars canceled.

    I arrived at the Raceway at 10:30am to check-in and do some scouting of the facility. The rain at this time was incredibly hard… so much so that I even told someone to not bother coming out. I drove around to places I’d never been before, which is always fun. I was able to narrow down some of my ideas into a half-dozen nice shooting locations. I also headed down to the garages and setup my studio lighting in the case that the rain didn’t let-up.


    This was the first time that I used the Vagabond II power system (basically a big battery). While there was power in the garages I wanted to test out the new toy (and I wasn’t tall enough to reach the overhead outlets). I arranged my lighting to take advantage of the sun light that was entering through the windows (which I needed a polarizing filter to control the reflections of). After drying off my car and taking a few photos (just because I could) I was all ready to start shooting… I just needed a car to shoot.

    As the afternoon progressed the rain passed and the sun came out. I was really surprised, I figured the day was going to be a total wash-out. As things started to dry out I even needed to go put my sunglasses on! The post-rain light was just incredible… Infineon Raceway is situated on the East side of a hill, which results in a long shadow that passes over the grounds well before the sun would ‘set’ other places (one of the spots I was planning on shooting was in shadow as early as 2:30pm).

    The first car arrived around 3pm and we quickly started shooting with the light that was remaining. I needed to get some photos from in Victory Circle, as the ground is painted with a great checker-flag pattern. We then headed down outside Turn 7 for some shots with the Raceway in the background.


    Yeah, it’s great to be able to get cars trackside during a hot-session (there was an open test at the track today). We then headed into the studio to get some shots from there.

    Jut as we were finishing-up with the first car, the second car arrived! This was what I was hoping was going to happen over the entire day… one car after another until everyone was shot from all sorts of locations.

    The second car was the one that I had planned for the Victory Circle shot. Something about a caged, tubed, straight rear-axle, leaded fuel (116 octane) running, NOS breathing monster just begs to be shot on a checkered-flag! Unfortunately, the sun was quickly setting… so doing many other outdoor shots was not going to be productive.

    A third car had arrived, so we headed back into the studio to get some a few shots now that the light had all but gone from outside. Let me say, I was really happy with the results from the studio set-up.


    Very moody, but not over the top. The background is slightly busy (doors, girders, etc.), but I think it goes well with the car… and the lighting focuses the viewer’s eye to the car.

    When I finished shooting the studio stuff, one of the owners commented that it was too bad we couldn’t do something on the drag strip. I made a phone call and a few minutes later we were setting-up the studio on the drag strip. The light was really going fast (like I wish I brought a flashlight so I wasn’t going to be tripping over cables/wires). By the time we moved the second car into position the light was GONE. I even had to use the modeling lights on the strobes (which shouldn’t be used with the Vagabond II) just to get enough light to focus the camera. The results were very interesting… and I took the chance to play with some light painting (everything was crap, but it was fun).

    I cleared-off the drag strip and headed home around 7pm (right on time). It was a really long day with all sorts of complications (rain, lack of cars, lack of light, etc.), but in the end I did come away with a few good images that should help fill-out the NCG Calendar. Now, I just need to find a solution to a quarter of the Calendar being Impulse Blue colored cars!

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