Vintage Sled Rac… Rallying

We don’t race vintage sleds at work at lunchtime.  For insurance purposes, it’s a rally.  Either way, much fun is had.  I’m better out on the course with a camera than with a sled.  Inevitable mechanical problems with 30-year old machinery kept me from getting too many good laps in this last year, but I learned a lot.  Mostly stuff about how to get a vintage sled running again, but whatever…   Man needs something to strive for, right?

This set contains most of my best shots from the last two years.  It was taking these that made me realize that I am actually starting to figure out what I’m doing with a camera.  As soon as I walked out to the course, I knew I wanted the shot shown above.  To my eyes, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close to what I had in mind… a whole row of riders, all on the same racing line, showing how close the racing is, and giving an idea of the intensity involved in piloting such scary machines around a bumpy, slippery course.

Scary?  You bet!  40 or more horsepower, maybe 6 inches of travel, pretty much zero damping, worn out skis and steering pivots, and ever-changing conditions.   Throw in questionable ergonomics, safety systems that were either nonexistent to begin with or rendered inoperable due to neglect, apathy, misguided machismo… yes it’s scary.

Speaking of scary, this shot was taken with my D300 and an 8mm Samyang fisheye.  Manual focus, shutter priority.  Prefocus on the racing line, stand as close as I dare to the action, shoot, and yank the camera and myself out of the way before any of the aging, rattling, snarling beasts has the chance to take me out.  Good fun!   Not too many near misses on this session- enough to let me know that any closer would be foolish… which means that I was just close enough.

Post was done in Adobe Lightroom.  Clarity and Contrast bumped, saturation bumped a little in camera and further in LR.  Dropped a stop of exposure out of the sky with a gradient (much easier than messing about with polarizers or gradient filters.)  I should probably spend some more time on it in PS… get rid of the light pole and the van in the background.  But I like it.  It’s close to what I wanted.

One thought on “Vintage Sled Rac… Rallying”

  1. James,

    Great shot, considering the set up and inherent risk of it all. I’ve tried this same shot on film but with the opposite set up. I used a 200 mm lens and waited until the first sled was nearly in focus to start shooting. The longer focus allowed for more of a head-on shot but left the follow on bikes in my case out of focus. I couldn’t decide if I should call the shot “final image” or “deer in the headlights”.

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