What does photography mean to you? What have you learned about shooting (insert sport here)? Tell me about your workflow?
If you are interested in my answers to questions like these, then this is the place to be.
A short behind the scenes video from the 2022 Rally of the Bay showing that behind every still image, there is a flurry of noise and movement. Video shot with my GoPro combined with the still images from my DSLRs using iMovie.
This is the first photo I ever took of a rally car on stage. It may only be the zero car, but it is actually not a bad snap, and a heap better than the rest of my photos from that event. This is under the Greenhills power lines from the Canberra Stages in September 1981. Yep, 40 years ago!
Here is a photo of me (my Dad’s old Minolta SLR in hand) at the start of the same rally. This photo was taken by my late friend Rod Paterson. That’s my other mate Laurence to my right. As you can see from the photo, that’s about 40kg ago! Other than that, I still look the same. :)
There are a couple of other familiar faces there. That’s Ian Hill in that gorgeous Escort, and the late Brad Mansfield in the Mitchell Auto Wreckers t-shirt.
After Rod passed away in 2008, his family kindly bestowed his slide collection to me, knowing that photography was a passion we both shared. So what was I going to do with just over 700 slides held in a couple of dozen yellow lidded plastic slide containers stored in an old Dunlop KT26 shoe box wrapped in a Teds Camera Store plastic bag?
I had the same question about what to do with my own not insignificant film based collection of slides and negatives for the years before around 2003 when I belatedly went down the digital path.
Initially toying with the idea of slide scanners, I was put off by the cost and speed of these devices. Earlier this year, I caught a Youtube video from a guy in the US that does this for a living. His basic premise is that “scanning” with a DSLR camera was the only way to efficiently get good quality digital images from film. I had a couple of DSLRs already and with a bit of investment on a light source, camera mounting solution, and software, I was in business. With this rig, I can scan about 300 images per hour. (More details in a future blog post.)
So while I think I am close with the capture side of this process, I’m not quite sure which way to go with storage and sharing of the resulting images. However, for my rally images, I will be sharing these on my website as part of the Roy Meuronen Photography Motorsport Classic Collection.
Now, the biggest disappointment for me is that many of my old photos are nowhere near the quality of the images I create and put up for sale today. In fact, back in the day, if I could get 4 or 5 “keepers” from a 36 shot roll of film, I was pretty happy. Nowadays, I am usually choosing between 4 or 5 (or more) sharp shots of each car on each stage. So each scanned photo up on the site is pretty much as it was shot. No cropping, just minor adjustments to get them looking as best as they can. I’m leaving out the really rubbish ones, but the other slightly blurry shots that are somewhat recognisable are still there.
In the spirit of sharing our motorsport history, low resolution images with a watermark will be available for people to download and share . Of course, full resolution versions will be available to purchase, because photographers should be rewarded for their work.
So for a start, check out the Motorsport Classic Collection galleries that are now up on the website at: https://roymeuronenphotography.com.au/classic
There will be more to come as I slowly make my way through my collection.
I’ve had a good variety of opportunities to shoot action photos over the last year, so here are a few of my favourite photos (in no particular order) and a little about the stories behind them.
Over the years I have competed in foot and MTB orienteering events, but the continuing connection I have with the sport is my dad – Eino. He was dragged along as I first picked up the sport as a teenager, and hasn’t stopped since – he’s still going 40 years later. Now, he keeps pretty active for an 84yo, but my sisters and I were a little worried when he declared that he was going to compete in the ACT MTB Orienteering Championships again. With a patchy history of MTB “offs”, I decided it might be best to tag along and keep an eye on him. Long story short – Dad managed to finish both days, and it was a great opportunity to take the camera out to capture some action.
I like this photo of ACT rider Marina Iskhakova as she is nicely isolated from a clean background by the shallow depth-of-field; the angle of her bike shows some action; and the reflection off the map-board provides a nice fill light to show her face. I’m pretty sure she is enjoying herself, but he expression of determination on her face is telling.
Canon 7D MkII
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (200mm)
This event is based around Shallow Crossing on the Clyde River near Bateman’s Bay. Normally I would do this event as a day-trip as it is only a couple of hours drive from home. On this occasion, as there was free accommodation on offer at the camp ground, I took the opportunity to head down the day before to do some reconnaissance. I have done this a couple of times in 2018, and it has paid off for a couple of reasons. First, it’s great fun to drive the rally stages, and secondly, it takes the guesswork out of choosing shooting locations.
The Mini’dulla rally takes a circular route around the ranges west of the Clyde river. The obvious shooting locations were on the first stage, where there was plenty of access from the King’s Highway. Some of these spots were okay, but when I drove towards the end of the second stage, the views opened up, so I stopped to check it out. There was a small spot I could stand safely, and it was (only) about 1km walk in from the end of the stage. Thanks to the event organisers, I was able to follow the control officials in to the finish control location during set-up, then wander down to the spot.
As it turned out, the south coast was blowing a gale on that day, and the exposed position on the top of the ridge made it a little uncomfortable trying to stay upright on a narrow ledge on the bank inside the corner. Even worse, when the wind was blowing, I could not hear the cars approaching the corner. On most occasions, the first I heard the car was when it first appeared around the corner. So I spent most of the morning, with the camera poised in a ready position hoping to be fast enough to catch the cars for the shot.
To add an additional degree of difficulty, I set up my flash (remotely fired) on the ground on the inside of the corner. With the strong sun coming in from the right of frame, it helped to fill the shadows on the inside of the cars. Down-side of this is that you only get one shot with the flash, so timing was important. There were also a couple of crews that used a very tight line that had me very worried about the welfare of my gear.
I like this shot of Denis Stevens and Frank Brookhouse in their Honda S2000 as it highlights some of the stunning landscape that the competitors probably don’t even notice as they race through the stages.
Canon 7D MkII
EF10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM (18mm)
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT – remotely fired off-camera
I have been playing Volleyball for a long time – let’s leave it at that. I’m still actively competing with a few other guys my age in a local comp against a few people probably a third our age. Why do I still play? Well, my knees have managed to hold out (so far), and I love to play. So naturally, it makes sense to combine two of my loves and shoot volleyball. I’ve been shooting the home games of the Canberra Heat AVL teams for a couple of years now. It’s a fast moving sport, and a lot is going on, so I think it really helps to have over three decades playing experience to help know where to point the camera.
This photo of Holly Mallet receiving serve stands out to me for a few reasons. The active body position, the ball location, and the eyes tell a great story of what is happening. The background is pretty clean, and there are no arms or legs of other players getting in the way. The juxtaposition with the VACT logo in the background is also a bonus. This was shot sitting on the floor a few metres behind the referee stand. Standard action sport settings – 1/1000th second at F/2.8 with a high ISO of 3200 to deal with the low light indoor venue.
Canon 7D MkII
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (110mm)
I have been involved with the National Capital Rally and before that Rally of Canberra for many years helping TV crews get in and out of stages to provide their fantastic video coverage. While performing this role got me access to a bunch of great spots, the photography always took a back seat to looking after my camera guy. 2018 was the first time in a long time that I was able to get out and just shoot photos. It was almost a bit daunting.
For the Hibernian stage in Kowen Forest on Saturday afternoon, I chose an easy to access media point on Millpost Road. When I arrived, I found that one of my fellow snappers had already set up a little further down the stage, so I figured I would go the opposite way and head up the hill. The stage map indicated a couple of bends and corners within a 1km walk. I first settled on the outside of a sweeping right left combination. However, when the zero car came through, it was a little disappointing. So I crossed to the other side to get a different angle on the first right hander. This was the second run through the stage and there were some tyre tracks up the bank on the inside, so I figured that I might see some good action on this pass. Not feeling entirely comfortable on the outside of the corner, I moved further down the hill and stood close to a very large tree with the long lens. This had the effect of getting a nice low angle on the cars coming through. When Harry Bates and John McCarthy barrelled through in their Toyota Yaris AP4 with two wheels in the air, I was very grateful that I had managed to grab a sharp sequence of images. Bates suffered some issues later in this stage, so I was lucky to grab this photo when I did.
I really like this photo. Wheels up, plenty of flying rocks and dust, and a nice clean background, with some sense of landscape. The cloudy conditions helped gain a nice even exposure, and the wind got rid of the dust real quick.
Canon 7D MkII
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (200mm)
One of the main reasons I re-invested in my camera gear a few years ago was that I was trying to get great photos of my two kid’s playing their sports. I was frustrated with the images I was getting. My old Canon 350D DSLR and even older Tamron 28-200 lens were unable to capture the fast paced action of football, futsal and baseball games. The focus accuracy and speed required to pick out a player on the field between all the other bodies just wasn’t there. The upgrade to a Canon 70D, and more so the Canon 70-200 F/4L zoom lens made all the difference. The quality of image I was able to achieve inspired me to try shooting different sports, and then reinvigorated my love of shooting rallies.
So the next two images are of my kids, Kai and Alicia, who are both striving to be the best they can be in their chosen sports.
Kai is our eldest, and he has been playing baseball since T-Ball. He has gone on to represent the ACT at a number of school sports and national championships. His mum Deb pitched for the ACT in softball, so it is only natural I guess that Kai is a pitcher as well. You might think it would make more sense for a guy that stands at 202cm tall to follow his father into volleyball, but it turns out that being tall is a sought after asset in baseball as well.
Kai is now following his dream by playing college baseball in the US. He is studying at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington (a 2hr drive SW from Seattle) and pitches for the GHC Chokers (I know) baseball team. In April we had the pleasure of seeing Kai in action during a short visit to the US. As a relieving pitcher, his outings were brief, but he performed really well, and I can guarantee you both his parents felt extremely proud to see him step up to the mound.
Pitching is funny in that there are only a couple of points in the pitching movement that don’t look weird in stills. This is one of my favourites with the leading foot just above the ground creating potential for action, and the ball grip and eyes clearly shown. The background is isolated, but with a bit of extra story interest with the runner leading off from first base. The 200mm lens (even on a cropped sensor body) is a little short for the baseball diamond, so this image will have been substantially cropped.
Canon 7D MkII
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (200mm)
Alicia has been playing football since Peewees at the age of 4 or 5. With her natural talent and a killer left foot, Lefty (as she is better know in the football community) has also gone on to bigger and better things, playing 1st grade in the WNPL, coaching juniors, and representing the ACT several times at both football and futsal nationals. It turns out that she is also a capable volleyballer, so there is something in the genes after all. She was awarded Sportsperson of the Year at her recent graduation from Dickson College in recognition of both her sporting talents and her enthusiasm in getting other players involved.
This image was taken at the Australian School Sports Nationals in Shepparton, in what was probably Alicia’s last junior representative gig. I always look out for her through the viewfinder, not just because she is my daughter, but also because she invariably provides great action and athleticism. The concentration on her face as she takes this shot at goal shows how determined she is on the field. The body and ball position show great action that is nicely isolated from the background. Of course, that potent left foot is front and centre.
Canon 7D MkII
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (200mm)
I’m really looking forward to getting out there again this year to try and capture and share more great moments of action. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram to keep track of where I have been.
2017 has been a busy year for me shooting at a total of 11 rallies. From Whangarei NZ in the east to Rosewood in the west. From Coffs Harbour in the north to Lakes Entrance in the south. From scorching sunny days, to drenching rain. I’ve experienced some great action in a wonderful variety of locations.
Here are a few of my favourite photos from this year, and a little bit of the story behind them.
Sometimes you get lucky with timing. I was in Auckland to play Volleyball at the World Masters Games, and sure enough, the local Asia-Pacific Rally Championship round was on at the same time (and on the same island). So I was able to make a day trip up north to catch some rally action. It was obvious that the Kiwis really love their rallying – judging by the large numbers that still came out, despite the very wet and windy weather. It was an opportunity to work on my hands-free umbrella system while capturing some images in some very different, and very green landscapes.
I like this shot as it captures my memories of that event. Wet and muddy and green. An unusual rearward angle from the outside of the corner with a wide lens gave a sense of the conditions, the countryside, and the route to come for the driver. It’s not only the top guys that give you nice photos. I like to hang around to the end of the field – there is often just as much passion and commitment with the slower guys.
EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (18mm)
This was only my second visit to Rally Australia. I travelled up to Coffs Harbour with my friend and fellow photographer Glen (Holdfast Photography). The biggest challenge of this event is shooting as a spectator. Being limited to official spectator locations is frustrating, but it can be done. Basically, you need to get there early, select the best position, and defend it diligently. Highlight for me of this rally is the sheer speed of the WRC guys – incredible, and difficult to keep up with. Lowlight was standing in heavy rain for 20 minutes on Sunday morning with no umbrella and two cameras to keep dry.
This shot of Finn Jari-Matti Latvala was one of the first few frames I shot at the rally. I was able to get close to the road on the inside of a fast left-hand bend, with a nice clean background. Shooting wide with a relatively slow shutter speed panning along with the car as it went past gives a sensation of speed. A nice bit of attitude and a locked front wheel adds a little bit of extra sauce to the shot.
EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (50mm)
Around a two hour drive from home, this rally can just be done as a day trip. Thanks to some great tips from the event director Ian Bigg, we were able to choose from some great locations to shoot. There were lots of other snappers at this event. On the first stage, there were probably 9 or 10 photographers on the same corner. I was determined to get something different to the rest of the guys. Come the night stage, I found a location on Clyde River Road that sparked an idea.
For this shot, I mounted the camera with a wide lens on a tripod, high on a bank outside the bend in the road. The flash was mounted on the camera, and I had a cable remote to control the shutter. Using the bulb setting, I opened the shutter as the car approached, and then closed it again as the car came past in front of me. The flash was set to trigger as the shutter closed, giving the frozen image of the car dragging a trail of light behind. I tried quite a few combinations of settings to get the balance right between the car lights and the flash. I think there is still plenty of room for improvement.
EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM (10mm)
Rear-curtain sync flash
This rally only runs every two years, and with a huge field of classic 2WD vehicles, it was a must do on my calendar. Too late to get a formal photographer accreditation for the event, I was able to land a gig as a camera assistant with the Black Magic Media TV crew. This way, I was able to help out the event, get good access to the stages, and grab some photos too.
Overshadowing the whole weekend was an approaching storm system that was making it’s way across Victoria. Some doubted that the event would even go ahead, but the organisers did a terrific job of contingency planning that ensured that there would be at least some action in the forest. Challenges for this event included shooting a field of 125 cars at a pretty ordinary location on Friday’s SS1 (keep trying different angles – for 4 hours!); and spending a very wet Saturday in the forest and mud feeding the leeches (it got to the stage that my umbrella needed an umbrella).
This photo is of Simon Evans in his Stanza on one of the much drier Sunday stages. You could almost see the smile through his helmet as he threw this beast sideways through the forest. Shot with a long lens from an almost head-on position, standing outside the exit of the corner (behind a very large gum tree). A fast shutter speed freezes the action as he lifts his wheel over the gutter on the inside. The flying rocks and sticks add to the spectacle.
Canon 7D MkII
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (200mm)
This was my very favourite location for the year. Thanks to the organising team I was able to shoot at this water crossing on the first stage. A beautiful scenic spot with a great background of granite boulders and blue sky. The sweeping bend on the approach leads the eye into the photo, and who doesn’t love a water-splash?
I covered this spot with two cameras. I shot the approaching corner with my 7D and a long lens, while I covered the water crossing with my 70D and a wide lens remotely operated and fixed on a tripod. I used a polarising filter to add contrast and bring out the colours of the background. It was a bit of a juggle shooting one camera, then hitting the remote radio trigger for the second, but I was very happy with the results.
However, shooting the photo was just the first part. Unfortunately, there were a few things cluttering the out-of-camera image. Worst were the fluorescent orange bollards staked on each side of the crossing, then the caution sign on the approach, and then the profile of the local landowner watching from above the rocks in the background. All of these were a distraction to the image, so a fair bit of time was spent in Photoshop removing these items (content-aware fill is your friend). I think the clean, natural look of the resulting images was worth the extra work. This location was probably my best-selling spot for the year.
EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (35mm)
Circular Polariser Filter
Remote Radio Trigger
Looking forward to another busy year shooting more rallies in 2018!
This is pretty much the first photo I ever took with my own camera.
The subject was my school friend Owen who lived at number 27. I spent a lot of time at Owen's place. It was a huge house on a corner block. It was there when I first learned to appreciate cricket – both in the backyard and watching the tests on TV. The location of this photo is at the back door of the house I grew up in (number 71) – after the first lot of extensions, but before the wholesale remodelling of the back half of the house. The photo was probably taken around the summer of 1975/76, the school holidays before we started high school.
This photo is pretty crap. Sure, the exposure is okay (there were no exposure controls), and it’s probably in focus (fixed focus), but it’s hard to tell because of the camera shake. Rather than squeezing the shutter button, in all the excitement, I must have punched it.
Of course, I didn’t find out that I had butchered my first photo until the prints arrived back from the chemist – a wait that seemed endless at the time. The cost of film and the cost of D&P (developing and processing) meant that each photo was precious and to be carefully rationed.
The photo was taken with a Hanimex XP-1 110 format film camera that I bought with my own money from the Soul Pattinson Chemist at the Dickson Shops. I earned the money by mowing the lawn at our place and the house next door (which my parents owned at the time). I earned $10 per house (including nature strips). I remember for some reason fixating on the SP catalogue, and wanting that camera. Actually, I wanted the cheaper one, but for some reason, I was strongly urged to wait an extra couple of weeks (and mows) to pay the extra for the next best model. From memory it cost about $40. It had an add on flash attachment that used 4 shot flash cubes, and a cable release connection.
Fast forward to now, and number 27 is no more. It was bulldozed and "dual-occied" years ago. Mum and Dad are still at number 71 and the house is still the epicentre of our (now extended) family life. My parents sold the house next door long ago, but the tree that I used to mow around (and was able to jump over), now towers over the house and provides beautiful shade over the whole backyard in summer. I lost contact with Owen after high school and our paths haven't crossed since.
I'm still taking photos, but there is no sense of rationing as such. It's not unusual for me to fire off over 800 photos with my DSLR through one of my daughter's 40 minute Futsal games.
It is probably fair to say that I’ve gotten a little better at operating cameras since then, and thankfully with the advent of digital cameras, I can now see the photos I have just taken and perhaps have a second crack at a watershed image like this one that might be worth looking back at in 40 years time.