Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Time to experiment a little...

No action this week at Ipswich, but I thought I'd post up a speedway pic anyway, with some background explaining how a "regular" night at Ipswich goes for me. I leave work as early as I can get away with, but realistically about 5.15 - 5.20pm. Hot-foot it up the A12 to get to the track as early as possible, and generally arrive at Foxhall Heath, home of the Witches, at around 6.45pm. First stop is off to get myself a quick bite to eat, checking in with my contact on the supporters club committee on the way to find out a little bit of info about the nights meeting mascot - are they nervous, is it a special occasion like a birthday, that sort of thing. Then it's down to the pits to get my kit sorted out and get a feel for the way things are going to go that evening. At about 7.15pm Nicola joins me along with the mascot for the night (they are usually between about 5 and 14 years old) and we spend a few minutes getting the kiddie at their ease if nervous, or calmed down if overexcited, before one of us goes off to round up their favourite rider for the first photos. The lads are all very good about it - and there's always time for a few quick words with the child whose big night it is before they have to get back to business. The tension then starts to rise - final adjustments are made to both bikes and cameras, before the riders hit the track for the pre-meeting parade, and we head off to the centre green. The riders line up for introduction to the crowd but prior to that it's the all-important coin toss to decide starting positions for the meeting - the two team Captains link up with the mascot for another photo and it's time for me to get it right - not something that can be re-done this one, no pressure or anything! A bit of banter with our Captain - Chris Louis - when I let the opposing skipper know that there will be two photos taken "Yeah, the first one never comes out does it!" jeers Chris with a grin, always making the mascot laugh which makes for a nice shot! Then the Mascot tosses the coin before it's helmets on for the warm up. Nicola and mascot head away out through the pits and I grab my bag and leg it down the centre green to change lenses and settings and get ready for the start of racing. I have "starting point" settings for speedway which I default to although these tend to get "tweaked" as the night wears on. Heats 1 - 4 are the most important for me - to make sure I get at least one clear action shot of each of the witches riders as early in proceedings as possible takes concentration but is essential before they get dirty with shale. Once I know I've got those in the bag then it's time to relax a bit - up to the interval (usually heat ten or thereabouts) it's a case of watching for any "handbags" with elbows flying as the riders jostle for positions, hopefully no crashes but got to be ready just in case, and generally reinforcing the action stuff with different angles, shooting positions etc. The crowd on the terraces know when the interval is even before it's announced as those of us on the centre immediately start heading for the pits as the riders cross the line. Time to go and see Pat in the tea-room for a much welcomed cuppa and, if we're lucky, a ginger nut or two! I usually spend the heat after the interval in the pits - saves me having to gulp down my tea and it's nice to get a feel for how things are with the lads. If I'm lucky there is space at the pit gate - the Poles usually shuffle along to make room for me and I watch the race from there - Robert says something unrepeatable in Polish as one of our reserves takes a tumble on the third bend, as the red lights come on the team all pour out of the pits to see if he's OK.....
Back out on the centre for the final few heats and for me this is time to play about a bit - hence the posted picture. I like to try to get something a bit "different" - the shot above was with the flash turned off, and shot at 1/80th, f2.8. Heat 15, and either jubilation all round as the witches rack up some vital points, or crestfallen faces and a downbeat atmosphere if things haven't turned out so well. For me it's time to get packed up before heading up to the bar for a bit of a gossip and the "post mortem" on the meeting. Then it's home (about an hour and a quarter for me!) and time for bed - none too soon!

Robyn

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Tygogal said...
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