Motorsports in Black and White lV

When it comes to a black and white motorsports image, this is as close to perfect as you can get. What little background distraction there is has been blurred out by the slow shatter speed panning.


In this fourth installment of our series on motorsports in black and white, we will focus more on tools and techniques. While some photographers may not know, many of us can look at an image and know how, and what tools were used to process the image. From the person who just clicks the convert to black and white button, to those who put some serious work into adjusting contrast, highlights and shadows, and a few extra touches in an effort to make the image something special. When I use to pour over racings mags in my youth, there was one constant. The best photos were in color on the covers, or the in the center. All others were in black and white. This was mainly due to the cost of publishing in color. Color film has been readily available to consumers since the early 30s, but of course the cost was higher than black and white. So you would have to have a reason to justify the cost. Today there is only a small niche market of photographers who shoot primarily in black and white, weather it be film or digital. For me and the subjects I shoot it constitutes more of an art form. In the world of motorsports photography, many, or should I say most shots do not lend themselves well to good black and white images.

Most distractions in this image have been pushed far into the background by selective use of contrast adjustments


Choosing the right subject for black and white processing is the first critical step. My first criteria is a background that is as distraction free as possible. Fences, grandstands, people, and large groups of cars should be avoided. The vehicles color is also an important element. Some colors are harder to work with in black and white. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it is just more work. If you can also avoid images with large areas of shadow such as front air intakes, or rear diffusers. These areas can be corrected, but again you will have to do more work.

Trees are one of the appealing background elements that lends it self well to black and white


Even the most bare bones image editor can create black and white conversions. Some of the more common ways offered are a convert to black and white button, which will essentially remove all color from your image. Other ways of accomplishing the task are desaturation, or a channel mixer tool with sliders to remove colors. The channel mixer when used properly can produce satisfactory results when combined with some of the other tools built into most editors. Another option is to purchase a third party package with more advanced and sophisticated conversion tools. I have used a few of these, and have found in my opinion DX O’s Silver Effects to be superior to anything else I have uses. It is just one module in the NIK filters bundle. I use about half of the nodules in this package on a regular basis, but if Silver Effects were the only one I used, I would still buy the package just for it alone. The key to any conversion software whether basic or advanced is to take the time to learn how to use them effectively.

There is something special about catching a vintage race car just right for black and white. It looks natural.


The most important part of understanding black and white photography, is understanding the single basic element of photography itself. Light and Shadow. For all the talk of film vs digital, 6 vs 60 megapixels, and DSLR vs Mirrorless, it comes down to one simple inescapable factor, all cameras do the same thing. Capture light. How it does it, in what way shape or form is just a matter of the choice of the photographer. However understanding the relationship between light and shadow is what will make the biggest impact on your photography. The camera is just a tool.


Formula Vee

Ever since I first became interested in racing, I have known about Formula Vee. I can remember reading an article years ago about its origins and popularity. It is in fact the least expensive way to get into racing for the hobbyist. With a small investment, and a little mechanical know how, you can go to local small road courses and enjoy a weekend of racing with like minded individuals.

An SCCA membership will get you all the information you need to get started, as well as dates of upcoming events. Then there are online forums with other racers that will help answer questions, help you find parts, and how to’s on solving any problem you nay have. I often marvel at the family participation I see at club events. Teams range from a family, or group of friends, or to what I call the three man team. Which consist of a man, a car, and a dog.

Formula Vee originated in the 60’s and is based on the 1963 Beetle. While body styles and shapes have changed a bit over the years, they are still using the same 1200 cc engine, 4 speed transmission, and link and pin suspension. They also use the same type of wheels and tires from the stock VW. To this day Formula Vee remains one of the least expensive, popular, and fun ways for the everyday race fan to go racing themselves. With various gatherings drawing as many as 60 plus cars, and it’s popularity shows no sign of diminishing any time soon.


Speed and Sport Shorts: Vintage Sports Cars

I am by no means a BMW fan. But this 1973 CSL is one that just screams vintage sports car racing.

So here’s just a little thought exercise. You are not at race track, nor are you watching racing on TV. Someone says “vintage sports car racing”. Now what image or images pop into your mind. Ah yes, I can hear the wheels turning. The trick is not to think, but let your mind react to the phrase.


For me there are a few images that come to mind. One is of a car that is not even one of my favorites, but still says vintage sports car racing. If the phrase was just vintage racing, then none of the cars in this article would come to mind. However by narrowing it down to a specific catagory, then you come up with completely different results. British sports car racing yields yet another set of results.

So, I will show you what I came up with and let you ponder what you came up with.


This 1968 Alpha Jr. has always been a favorite of mine. With an attractive front end, and rather pedestrian rear end, it just looks at home on a race track.
I’m sure more than one of you came up with a Shelby. That would only be natural as this 1965 Shelby CSX was designed for this purpose.

The Car

When you are shooting an event, it’s easy to not see details in what you are shooting. Things are coming at you so fast you don’t have time to focus on the nuances. The other day I was going through a folder of images I shot at a vintage event a year ago at Blackhawk Farms Raceway, when I came across a shot of a Mini painted with the British Union Jack on it. So I decided to edit it for social media use. While looking for the best shot to use, I noticed there was something very different about some of the shots.

In hindsight I guess I should have noticed that the car seemed to be coming back around to where I was shooting fairly quickly. It wasn’t until I found a rear shot that that I discovered that the other car was in fact a Wolsely with the same livery. From there it was a trip to Google to find out just what a Wolsely was.

Wolsely Motors was founded in 1901 by (of all people) Vickers Armaments. Makers of the famed Vickers machine gun which was used by the British in both world wars. The most obvious difference is the front grill. From there you start to notice the other subtile differences. But overall there really aren’t that many. The car in these shots are 1960s vintage, but not having the entry list, I’m not sure exactly what year. So here’s to the Wolsey. The car I never heard of until recently.


Indy 8 Hour 2023

Doing last minute travel prep, and thinking ahead to this weekend. FANATEC GT World Challenge and International GT Challenge, team up once again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 8 Hour. I was looking through the entry list, and see that last year’s winner the Craft Bamboo team are back to defend their victory. Looking at the drivers of this Mercedes AMG, it’s not at all surprising that they are a favorite. There is Maximilian Götz, Jules Gounon, and Raffaele Marciello, who has to be one of the top 3 GT drivers in the world. As always in an 8 hour race, anything can happen. However barring any unforeseen circumstances, they are the ones to watch.


Ferrari 296 GT Breaks Through

There was much fanfare at the launch of the Ferrari 296 GT3. It looked to be a worthy successor to the very successful 488 GT. However its first outings were less than stellar as they seemed to struggle to find proper race pace. All that was to changed at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. I watched the qualifying for that race, and was amazed as the Ferrari out paced the entire field in every sector. They not only went on to win the race, they set the first sub 7 minute lap with a 6″58.7 lap time.

Meanwhile in the U.S. racing series, they still had not broken through with a win. That changed August 19 at Road America with a pole position start, and a race win. Manny Franco and Alessandro Balzan drove the Conquest Racing 296 GT3 masterfully in both qualifying and in the race. As a Ferrari fan it was also a good day for me. They went on to duplicate their feat the next day, and sweep the weekend.

Meanwhile in Europe, A 296 scored double podium at ESTORIL by winning first the 6 hour qualifying race, and the 12 hour main race. And it goes on from here with many series having plenty of racing left in their seasons. As more customer cars become available next year, I hope to see more of them on grids throughout various series, especially here in the U.S.,and many more podium finishes.


IMSA Indy Test

Porsche Penske Motorsports – Porsche 963

Testing is an essential part of auto racing, and there are many reasons why teams do it. Baring any unforeseen problems, most testing is done in the off season. However if you are moving to new equipment, and it is late in arriving, you could find yourself behind the eight ball compared to other teams.

But these are not the only reasons for testing, and not the only times it is done. If part way through a season your car is performing as well as you feel it should, you schedule test at various tracks. Most test sessions are private, and may only consist of one team. Others may be in conjunction with teams. They are however open test that take place before certain big races. Most are open to the press, and maybe a few fans.

Crowdstrike Racing by APR – Oreca LMP2 07

Such a test took place recently at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was for IMSA cars participating in the upcoming race to take in September of this year. For this test there was a very good reason. IMSA has not been to Indy since 2014.That was at the time of the IMSA Grand AM merger. The cars of today are a far cry from those that were there in 2014. The top prototype class has evolved from the Daytona prototypes of that time, to the DPi cars, to the new GTP Hybrid cars. I have no doubt that even for drivers who were there in 2014, that there will be a bit of a learning curve.

BMW M Team RLL – BMW M Hybrid V8

Thirty three cars participated in the test, from GTP, LMP 2, LMP 3, GTD and GTD Pro. There were cars from the Michelin Pilot series who had their own sessions. There were very few mishaps, although it take the #60 Acura a few laps to figure out turn 12. Otherwise the day I was there was quite smooth. I am sure those who were there now have the basis of a notebook to work from on how to set up their cars for race weekend.

Wright Motorsports – Porsche 911 GT3 R (992)
Paul Miller Racing – BMW M4 GT3
JDC Miller MotorSports – Porsche 963
Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian – Hyundai Elantra N TCR
Era Motorsport – ORECA LMP2 07
Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian – Acura ARX-06


Ferrari: Pure Automotive Beauty

Is there such a thing as pure automotive beauty? Of course there is, that’s a silly question. Though the years car companies such as Ferrari have proven this numerous times. It’s easy to marvel at the beauty of todays sleek stylish cars, but it is also easy to forget, or take for granted the style and beauty of their past works of automotive art. Most peoples vision of a Ferrari is the 308GTS from the tv show Magnum PI, or the 348 Testarossa from Miami Vice.

Scuderia Ferrari was founded by Enzo Ferrari 1929, and while under the banner Alfa Romeo brought them fame and their first racing success. However by 1938 the relationship soured and Alfa absorbed all of the Ferrari assets. They also fired Enzo Ferrari and imposed a four year ban on him being able to race under his own name. Undeterred, in 1939 Ferrari went to work anyway on the Tipo 815. After the war years of 1939 – 1945 Ferrari was on track under their name with the 125 S. This year also saw them score their first success as a company with six wins. Although their fortunes have been up and down through the decades, with some of their best years coming between 1957 – 1965, they remain very competitive wherever they race today. Their new Hypercar Prototype has already already won The 24 Hours of Le Mans, and has been on the podium in most of the other races they have participated in to date

Here today we will take a glimpse at some lesser known Ferrari’s. I feel very luck to have had the opportunity to shot these amazing cars recently. It is always a thrill for sports car lovers to see such beauty on track, at speed, in their element.





Ultimate Vintage

1913 Case

Some years ago while on my way to attend my first vintage race, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought it might a bunch of guys with vintage cars driving slower than race speeds just showing off their cars. I figured at best I would come away with some nice shots of unique old cars. The reality however was completely different, and very surprising. Not only did they race at full speed, they did so as if the cars had just been made. Sliding, spinning, and bumping and beating on each other as if that model years class championship was on the line. I was hooked at once.

However (for me anyway) the best was yet to come. About halfway through the morning a class of of cars I did not know existed came on track. The per war class consist of cars made from the beginning of auto racing, up to about 1955.

1912 EMF Racer

It’s at this point I have to tell you a little something about myself. I have been a huge history buff since 5th grade. I spend my Sundays when I’m not on the road watching history documentaries on one of six different streaming channels I subscribe to.

So seeing these beautiful old cars, many of which I have only seen in pictures, on track in front of me was truly amazing to me. Most of the photographers I shoot vintage events with like the later model faster cars. But for me (in my head) I try to imagine what it had to be like back then to see something go that fast for the first time. You have to remember in the early part of the 20th century a fast horse could keep up with a locomotive. So if you lived in a rural area, had had not seen a train before this would have amazed you to see.

Buick (unknown year)
1911 Lozier
1916 Hudson

Now we fast forward to 2023. I was attending the SVRA Speed Tour event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I saw on the schedule that there would be a pre war class, and assumed it would mostly consist of cars I had seen in the mid west before. But you always hope you will catch a few new ones. To my surprise, it did not have any cars I had previously seen. The cars were from a group called Ragtime Racers, the majority of which consisted of cars from 1909 to 1938. For me this is the ultimate in vintage racing. Cars from the very inception of auto racing. One offs, limited editions, and modified early production cars. Most hand made, with the limited number of tools available for automobile production. Many of which were modified or repurposed tools from other disciplines.

1912 Packard
1909 EMF 30
1911 EMF X

I hope I get another opportunity to see these marvelous machines again in the near future.


Speed and Sport Shorts: Honda Indy 200 Qualifying

Yet another exciting qualifying session, with a few surprising results. Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou had been the fastest in practice, but only Palou made the fast six with a fourth place grid position. The front row will consist of pole winner Colton Herta with Graham Rahal next to him. While pole position doesn’t guarantee victory, it gives you the opportunity control race strategy at least at the beginning of the race.


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