Picture this: Our top pics from Bahrain 2022
We asked our lens-masters for their favourite exposures in Bahrain...
This year’s Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain raced from day to night, providing a brilliant backdrop for the official FIA World Endurance Championship photographers to capture some excellent exposures and here they share their favourites with you.
Not only Peugeot were flying on Thursday in Bahrain! Right next to the circuit was the Bahrain International Air Show which had flybys all throughout the weekend. It was hard to focus on the cars when you had pilots practicing their daredevil manoeuvres above the track! During FP1, I was out on track and as soon as I saw the opportunity to get cars and planes into a picture I started scouting around to try and find a spot. I had to make sure that the planes were low enough to get into the frame and I wanted to avoid the giant floodlight posts and TV crane. Once I found my spot and took the first images with just the smoke trails left behind I anticipated the combo of car and plane. I could see the planes approaching and had to wait for a car to appear. Luckily, I got the stunning Peugeot 9X8 coming around the corner and the planes were just in the right spot. Can we please have this again next year? Red Arrows and a red Ferrari anyone?
For any photographer it is a challenge to come up with new angles at a track where you have been before. In this image I tried to get the drag strip tower into the frame. I have similar shots with a much faster shutter speed where everything is easily recognizable, but I was looking for something else. With my shutter speed super low I still tried to keep the tower visible and enable an interesting pattern in the background of the picture.
This image is just luck for me. During the championship awards ceremony a quick video snippet played on the giant screen behind the championship winning car. It showed a short segment where the American flag was waving through the frame. I exposed for the screen but kept the car as the focal point. It only left the silhouette of the car covered in the red and white stripes. A nice send-off before our winter break and the next time we will see these cars in Sebring in the US in March.
Coming into the last round the title was up for grabs for both Aston Martins in the GTE-AM category. On Wednesday evening a photoshoot for Aston Martin was set by fellow photographer Nick Dungan. Both cars going head-to-head into the final round with an advantage for the #33, but you can never be too sure in endurance racing. Seeing both cars under the floodlights - which give off a cold blue tone - was just amazing. Also having some time to shoot different angles of the cars without too much of a rush is very enjoyable. The picture that I liked most from this opportunity although is the simple head on shot with both cars at an angle and the plethora of floodlights surrounding them.
During the first hours of the race, the battle between Porsche and Ferrari was just intense. Every time they came by it was nose to tail and everybody was on the edge. The drivers’ championship was up for stakes so there was no holding back and both manufacturers wanted to seal the end of the LMGTE Pro Class with a title too. I was in position for the sunset, shooting mostly wide to incorporate the Kings Tower into my pictures, but once the sun was behind the tower, I wanted to go tighter and focus more on the cars again. The light was beautiful as both the #52 Ferrari and #92 Porsche came out of the first corners. Miguel Molina ran wide on the exit of T2 and had to quickly re-join the track before the Porsche passes him. He cut across the kerbs at full speed and the right-hand side of his car shoots in the air, two wheels off the ground. With two wheels off the ground, my instinct would be to look where I am going, but not Molina. If you look closely, you can see that his head is turned, looking into his mirrors to see where the #92 is. He never lifts the throttle and keeps the position.
The pairing of Pier Guidi and Calado had a rollercoaster of a ride to get to their title. With 2 hours left their fourth gear decided to quit its service and then the gearbox getting stuck in fifth gear, it looked dire for them. They somehow managed to bring the car home, and did everything in their power to keep their championship hopes alive. Luck was on their side the Porsches just couldn’t clinch a win to secure the championship. Emotions were high when race winning #51 pulled into the arrival zone, but with both James and Ale hitching a ride and enjoying their third world championship right under the podium.
Bahrain has three light moods for us photographer: Harsh sun, the sunset with amazing colours and pitch-black night, with some floodlights in-between. We all love sunsets and when you have incredible machinery pacing through your lens it gets even better. It feels like the majority of shots in our race gallery are from sunset or golden hour, when everything is bathed in orange, yellow and red. The team was strategically positioned all around the track so that we can cover all the good spots. I had chosen the top of the hill, between turns 5 and 6, where the cars make their way down towards the sharp right-hander. I squeezed in between my colleagues as we were all shooting through an opening in the guard rail. Your options up here are either to shoot wide, which would mean you would get a big fiery sky with a big blob (the sun), but the cars will get relatively small, or you go tight and focus on the car while still showing some sun. Yes, you lose a lot of the beautiful sky, but the light all over the place still screams sunset and the beautiful structure of the roof makes for an interesting backdrop. The Toyotas were running 1-2 and were chasing the #45 Algarve Pro Racing Team down the hill.
Once the sun is behind the horizon, darkness quickly settles in around the track… unless you count for all the floodlights which light up the track like nothing! Between Turn 10 and 11 runs a drag strip right alongside the racetrack and the control tower for it makes for a great photo spot. The run-off for Turn 10 fades into darkness and only the track is lit-up perfectly. The entry to the drag strip with its zebra pattern makes for an interesting element. But nothing beats having a full on traffic jam in your frame, especially if it’s the battle for LMP2 Pro/AM. The #38 JOTA which went on to win the championship, and just to spice things up a bit, the 911 RSR of GR Racing was thrown in there as well.
Shooting in the pit lane after the end of the race is always great to capture emotions, and at the last round, the championship decider, there are always more things to shoot. The #38 JOTA secured third place which meant they wouldn’t do the victory ride down the pitlane. This honour was reserved for the winning WRT car. But third place was more than enough for the team to secure their first title. Antonio Felix da Costa parked the car in park fermé close to the podium, but his team-mates were still down at the garage, already celebrating with the team. He slowly walked down the pit lane to his team, helmet still on. All the attention is on the race winners driving to the podium, while the new LMP2 champion is walking solely in the opposite direction. I got a nice clean shot of him, before he ran into the arms of his co-drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Gonzales.