Picture this: Our top pics from Fuji 2022
We asked our lens-masters for their favourite exposures in Japan...
This year’s 6 Hours of Fuji saw an uncharacteristically sunny day at Fuji International Speedway come race day, with a collection of diffreent cloud cover in the build-up days, giving our resident snappers plenty to get excited about as they pointed their lenses in the following directions.
We asked the FIA WEC official photographers - - for some of their favourites from this month’s race. Enjoy!
On race day we were blessed with beautiful weather all around. This was the first time during the whole week, where we had the cars on track and the mountain visible. We always want to show where we are, so framing the cars with this behemoth of a mountain in the background clearly tells a story. There aren't too many places around Fuji that will give you such an unobstructed view of the mountain and a car, so T1 was a good spot to get the start and then the first race action. I got lucky when both Peugeots came through simultaneously.
During the race I spent an hour in the pitlane, and when I came across this fan in the Ferrari garage, who was checking the screens above. This man stood in a little walkway between the red walls of the Ferrari Pit garage, which created just a perfect angle full of the vibrant red. Him wearing a Japanese Hachimaki headband which reads "Hisshō (必勝, "determined to win") just makes this picture so much more telling to me. The surrounding red could also be standing between some Tori gates at a shrine anywhere in Japan, but it was in pit garage 15&16.
With this shot I can't take all the credit. It was a team shot of the Iron Lynx / Iron Dames Team, which was set up by their photographers (Andrea Lorenzina & co). They had chosen a great location at the bottom of the track, and the timing was just right for that beautiful evening glow. The mountain was in full view and it all came together really nicely. I was doing my normal scouting of the track on the setup day when I came across this whole scene. I snapped a quick shot here and there, trying not to interfere with their shoot, and was really happy with the outcome.
During the first hour of the race the GTE Pro battle was really tight. Standing at Turn 3, you have the cars coming straight at you and then turning in at high speed into the lefthander. With this shot I was able to convey not only the speed that they take going into T3, but also how close they were. At this point the Ferrari was in a close second to the Porsche, but soon after both Ferraris would start pulling away together further and further to claim their dominant victory.
We knew the best light would come as close to the race finish as possible, that's why we all went out on track during the last hour to catch the golden glow. The Japanese fans had set up their little tents on the banking on the other side of the track in front of some trees, which made for an interesting structure in the background, and the closed aperture of my camera created a little star where the light reflected back from the soon to be victorious #8 Toyota. Its always nice to have such a picture of the winner, especially when it is on home ground.
The light out on track got better with every second, but Marius and I had to make a last minute dash to the pitlane to get the winner shots. With minutes to spare we made it back into the media centre to drop off our big lenses. We were already in our fireproofs, so we could just run out and into the garage. A quick glance at the screens in the media centre showed that it would be Ferrari in GTE Pro, so I went straight to their garage. Once I arrived the whole team was already on their way to the pit wall, so I found an opening right next to them and poked my camera out. The nice light was still there and poking through the openings of the grandstand, creating golden spots on the tarmac. Both Ferraris came by in formation and James Calado in the #51 made an effort to almost touch the mechanics cheering from the pit wall.
Normally we try to have one person on pitlane duty, but with the light being so nice during the last hour of the race, we all went out on track to get as many "golden hour" shots as possible. I picked my spot at an opening which showed the flow of T10-12 and the newly constructed hotel right next to the track. I hovered my camera just above the ground and worked with the patch of grass that was right in front of me. I was lucky when a group of cars came by and filled the track nicely while also having the #31 WRT car in the foreground. Oh, and the light was nice too...
When I got back into the pits, it was pretty clear that the #31 WRT would win it, but on the other side of the garage, all mechanics and drivers were on the edge of their seats. The #41 was in close contention for another Podium spot, fighting with the #28 from Jota. When the car went onto its last lap it was clear that the chance of an overtake were slim to none. The head mechanic of the #41 Guillaume was disappointed and in the background you can see Ferdinand sitting on a tool box slouched down, once the realization hit that he will have to make do with P4.
From the WRT Garage with disappointment on the one side and happy faces on the other, I had to make a run through the pitlane to get to the podium. My Usain Bolt-like performance was rewarded when I shot the LMP2 Podium and got this nice shot of Sean Gelael in the midst of the fireworks and champagne spray. This shot somewhat captures the atmosphere of standing up there, you can get a great shot but if you stand too close, your lens (and you) will be covered in champagne and all the pics that follow will be unsharp.