Best of Both? Analogue & Digital at a British Grasstrack Meeting?
Two weeks ago, I attended a Grasstrack meeting my local circuit in Roche Cornwall. For the uninitiated, Grasstrack is like Speedway, but is more varied with a range of different classes from youngsters upward.
There are also vintage machines and most interesting of all; sidecars. This is very much a grassroots motorsports scene, although the racing is still highly competitive and for the winners can be a route to higher levels of motorsport. I took my digital camera for stills and action video and my Nikon FE for monochrome images behind the scenes. Two videos of the action with Motovlogs have already been published, which I will link to below. This Blog is all about the pictures. Let's start with the creative process however, because let's face it; in the 21st Century a 40 year old film camera is not what you take to a race meeting. Of course, 40 years ago, it is exactly what you would have taken. Then you would have fixed a motor drive capable of a (pedestrian by today's standards) 5fps motor drive, which would have crunched through a roll of film in 7 seconds, meaning a change of roll every race. Not a viable prospect in todays times. so my trusty Fuji XT-2 the workhorse, was used for video and actions stills. My idea for the FE was to recreate the kind of images you would have seen in your local paper or weekly motorcycle tabloid. Basically grainy images with that gritty feel of being there. So, my FE was loaded with Ilford HP5+ which is pretty much what those Photojournalists would have had loaded in their cameras back in the 1980s. HP5+ is such a highly regarded film with an utterly unique look that I felt it matched the brief perfectly. Of course, back in the day the film would have been sent to a lab, or developed in house. I however had only my own facilities which are basically a developing tank and chemicals. So, going from the exposed image to a developed negative always has some risks attached and in this case, there were a few issues with the film, possibly caused by light leaks, flare or a lens which although sharp had some fungus. Overall though, when I had got the images scanned into the computer, I was very happy, sharp, well-exposed and with the look I was aiming for. I'll talk more on developing and processing when my darkroom is fully functional, but I am so looking forward to printing off my own negatives I can't tell you.
Back to the artistic side and my intention was to capture the feel of being in the pits, both the relaxation and the tension of waiting for the next race. So, the images are not neat, clean or 'composed', they are little tableaus. Someone is drinking a coffee, someone else is cracking a joke or pouring fuel or just chilling. In some ways these groups of people could be anywhere or doing anything. This could be a Bowls match, or a Concert, or a day on the beach. The main thing is it's what people do when they come together with a common purpose. It's universal. So enough blathering from me, here are the images. The digital action shots and the analogue. Links also to the accompanying videos for the whole picture. Funnily enough, as I've been typing out my thoughts (and it is a stream of consciousness thing), I've recognised that I've been doing a piece of Photojournalism. Hmm fancy that. I will contact the relevant organisation and offer images to them first, but you will also be able purchase to any of these images from this website as soon as I can get them up here!