Shots in the dark
Many people ask me during the Formula 1 year just what’s it like to photograph our sport under the lights of the Marina Bay Circuit at Singapore.
How does one approach such a challenge and portray all that happens during a grand prix weekend – at night
Well, it’s just that: a challenge. A difficult one, for sure, but one to be relished all the same.
First hurdle to jump – metaphorically speaking – is to quickly get used to the arse-about-face timings. Circuit arrival, paddock activity, track action and post-session picture processing – all happening from dusk till dawn. Working on European time in a far off Far East city never really seems to get any easier.
Once one’s body clock is as attuned as it’s going to be, thoughts turn to the joy of the job at hand.
Shooting a night-time F1 race is a fantastic opportunity to photograph the sport in challenging and very different conditions from the norm.
The lights aren't that bright – photographically speaking – and colour casts can mean more post-shoot processing work, to dial out the varying hues of magenta, yellow and green generated by the bulbs above.
As is always the case in photography, light is everything and at the Marina Bay circuit that is certainly true.
The cars seem to take on entirely new colours as the artificial light from above works its way across their glossy bodywork.
Add to that glowing brakes, red hot exhausts and the ever flickering lights of the dashboards, topped off by the colours of the city all around, and one has a photographic palette rich with opportunity.
What one doesn’t notice, on television, is the varying strength of the light falling on the cars all around the track. TV cameras, with their image intensifying technology, are far more adept at dealing with these low-to-high light fluctuations than stills cameras will ever be.
Shot from on high in various craftily negotiated eyries, the cityscape is surely the best view of the F1 season bar none.
The only ingredient I would like – just once, maybe – is a splash of rain. I'm sure you can imagine just how fantastic all of the above would look reflected in a rain-soaked track, the cars trailing brightly lit rooster tails of spray as they roar through the streets.
We live in hope!