• Life Through a Lens

Shooting in the rain

Mark Sutton
July 11, 2012

F1 photographer Mark Sutton picks his favourite shots from the British Grand Prix

Lotus shoot

Bottom left image: Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 400 ¦ Aperture: F20 ¦ Focal length: 70.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/320 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Shutter priority © Sutton Images
This was a vehicle to be used in the new Batman film - The Dark Knight Rises. We did the shoot in the morning on the main straight but it was only with Grosjean, and then we redid the shoot in the afternoon which was better because there was less of us and also Kimi was there. So it was a bit more relaxed. Kimi was very chilled, he was really enjoying it - I think he wanted to get out there and drive it to be perfectly honest! He had a little look inside the cockpit, and I think what stood out for me was the fact that he was so chilled. Normally Kimi's bored at these sort of events, but I think because it was a bit different he really liked it. He was enjoying some PR work! He was talking to Grosjean, he was interested in the actual vehicle itself and it was good to see. He was laughing and joking and he was genuinely interested, it was so unlike Kimi and it was a really good shoot.

Red light at Red Bull

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 1600 ¦ Aperture: F2.8 ¦ Focal length: 200.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/500 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Aperture priority © Sutton Images
We had something similar in the last column but this time it was Peter Prodromou, the head of aerodynamics who is having a look at the car. He's analysing the aero paint on the back, around the area where the exit of the exhaust is. They take pictures of it and then they analyse them. This picture is nice because the rain light is still flashing and it's just going off as he's looking at it. Peter was the guy who ended up on the podium after the race with Webber and Vettel, so here he is working hard and then getting the recognition for it. It also shows that there's more than just Adrian Newey at Red Bull - he's not even the chief designer, that's Rob Marshall - it's a whole team people that's been redesigning the rear of that car. It's becoming more and more apparent that the rear end is really important, and Red Bull's is now completely different to how it was at the beginning of the season.

Leading five

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: F11 ¦ Focal length: 500.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/640 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Manual © Press Association
You can see how sunny it is, which was an unexpected bonus! I've shot this from the last corner when they come out on to the kerb, and that's Vettel at the back of the five. I did my start from there last year because you can come off the grid really late and just walk to that corner. What the one problem is - in terms of photography - is the gases of the cars. A lot of the pictures can be out of focus because you've got so many gases coming out the back of the car it can create a really bad heat haze just from all the gases out of the exhausts. This one is fine though because it's only Vettel's car that is really giving that haze, and that's shot on the 500. It's a good spot to shoot because you can see the gaps in the race with this shot, but also you can see the lines on the outside where drivers have gone wide over the kerb.

Lewis and Fernando

Whole set: Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: F10 ¦ Focal length: 500.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/640 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Manual © Sutton Images
Another reason that last location is such a good point to shoot from is because you can see all the way back round to Stowe and follow cars fighting through Stowe to Vale, Club and then out on to the pit straight. There's a full sequence here of Hamilton and Alonso having a real battle on one lap - I've got a sequence of about 12 shots in total. Fernando tries to have a look around the outside of Vale and then undercut Hamilton but he defends well. The main thing about these shots is you have to be really on it. You have to really concentrate and it's a matter of follow focusing with your autofocus and also concentrating on where they're going to go. You have to really pre-empt it, using either your Fanvision or the big screen in front of you, and then see them coming in to Stowe and judge how the battle will play out like that.

Threatening skies

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: F6.3 ¦ Focal length: 110.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/640 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Manual © Sutton Images
It's almost pitch back behind Alonso in qualifying. It was his final run in qualifying and this shot has not been edited at all. I've darkened the car slightly but have not touched up the clouds or anything. It's actually sunny at this point of the session as the track dries out and Alonso is coming down in to Vale on the inside of the track. With the sun being out and the black cloud in the background it creates a really nice picture, a kind of moody, menacing image. The weather was menacing all weekend really, and all day on Saturday was rain and then sun when we had a few breaks. It was just good to be in the right place with the incoming weather behind to create this moody shot.

A new podium

Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ¦ ISO Speed: 200 ¦ Aperture: F8 ¦ Focal length: 23.0mm ¦ Exposure: 1/500 Sec ¦ Exposure mode: Manual © Sutton Images
This was a brand new podium for this year that had been built by FOM and they experimented with a few new things in the podium procedure. The whole idea was to create a bit more of an atmosphere with it and I think it worked. The flags are built-in on screens that just flip over, and there's also lights and these confetti machines that fire ticker tape all over the podium. Sir Jackie Stewart interviewed the drivers on the podium afterwards and that was a good move - it extended the end of the race for the fans as the interviews went out around the circuit. At the end of the race they allowed the fans on to the track and it created a great atmosphere. I personally think it should be studio lit like it is in Brazil or some of the races at night - I think it looks beautiful when it's lit properly - but it worked quite well. Unfortunately the wind blew most of the ticker tape away from the podium (and my son picked some up) but the conditions had not really been kind all weekend so that wasn't so much of a surprise!

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