The Race of Gentlemen, Wildwood, New Jersey.

The Race of Gentlemen, Wildwood, New Jersey.
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Staff Favorite
Peer Award
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Magnificent Capture
Superb Composition




Behind The Lens

This photo was taken on the beach at Wildwood, New Jersey, USA at an event known as The Race of Gentlemen. The Race of Gentlemen, or TRoG as it is affectionately known, is an automotive carnival that celebrates American racing heritage. A true homage to automobile and motorcycle history, hosted by the Oilers CC/MC. Spectators and racers alike will experience a simpler time, when guys were gentlemen and cars were king! A hand-selected group of gentlemen showcase their pre-war machines at the water’s edge on the beach of Wildwood, New Jersey.
Racing on the beach starts as soon as the tide is far enough out to allow two cars to race side by side. The runs continue until the late afternoon when the tide starts to come back in! This shot was taken mid-afternoon with the sun high up which is given away by the short shadows. It’s mayhem in the pits and start line area with racers, mechanics, crew members, cars and bikes all moving around so you have to grab your shots when you can. I’d been talking with a racer called Brian about his pre-war Harley Davidson when his mates came over on their machines telling him he had ten minutes before the next round of races. Seizing my short opportunity I managed to persuade them to line up for this shot.
Shooting on a beach at midday the lighting is almost irrelevant as you have no control whatsoever. Sure you can move around to get the sun in from the side but then the background may be poor - there is no shade at all. So it’s a chicken and egg situation! The one thing I always do is shoot with a polarising filter at least then I can increase contrast and manipulate the shadows and reflections.
This was taken using one of my trusty Sony A77 bodies fitted with a battery grip, Sigma 24-70mm DG and a Kood polarising filter all slung from a Peak Design strap system. Although long in the tooth now the Sony A77s are a great camera, a real work horse and robust enough to take everything I can subject it to. I have no idea what the shutter count is for any of my A77s but they must be very high! I’m applying the mantra “if it ain’t broke - don’t fix it” !
I’ve been a hot rodder and racer of American machinery for over thirty years so this is a subject matter that’s close to my heart. The Race of Gentleman is not just about the cars and bikes that race but the characters that keep these machines ticking over and make these events happen. Capturing these people in a photo is great fun because you have to engage with them which for me is an enormous parts of the experience.
Very little post processing was done on this image to be honest. A monochrome conversion suited the subject matter plus some basic lightroom adjustments to increase detail, contrast and sharpness.
In my camera bag
I have two Sony A77 bodies so they obviously go in first. For motorsport I usually pack my Sigma 70-200mm (my favourite lens) and my Sigma 24-70mm - for urbex my Sigma 50mm prime and Sigma 10-20mm. I never use a flash except for arty stuff at home. My Manfotto tripod and monopod go everywhere and I store them in my car so I can't forget them. I have a battery grip which I usually pack and numerous filters. I only carry my Sigma 50-500mm if I definitely need to because it's too big! I carry five batteries although two are really cheap third party items which are pretty useless but have kept me shooting for an extra twenty minutes or so right at the end of the day. I have far too many SD cards, all Sandisk.
I try to split my shots at race meets 50/50 between opportunities and arrangements. There are endless shots to be had in and around the pits or racetrack of racers, crew and machinery. But equally, even given the hectic nature of these events, people will oblige with posed shots if you engage with them. So my advice to get a shot like this be happy, be smiley, be cheeky, be chatty, show an interest in their day not just your own. Take five minutes with these characters, shake their hand, introduce yourself, build a rapport. You may not get so many shots but you’ll definitely get better shots. Finally, and most importantly, thank them for their time. Follow this and you’ll be able to approach them again at the next event! For me personally the social interaction is as equally rewarding as the art of capturing an image.

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