Last year, I shot the Indy 500 with the Purdue All-American Marching Band and this year, I was hoping to be able to shoot it again, but didn’t really have anything lined up until about a week ago.

Thanks to the amazing power of social media and the kindness of Purdue alum Tom Jones I am going to be shooting the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race this year for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.

I have followed Tom on Instagram for the better part of a year and it all started when I saw some of his #SpotTheStation (International Space Station) photos. He has been learning the tricks of the trade and it is so much fun for me, because not only is he spotting it, I am able to help him and others through long exposure photography capture it on their cameras too.

This Indy 500 opportunity came about after I met him there on Instagram saw one of his posts and asked him about race credentials, telling him I would love to help donate my talents to Schmidt Peterson in exchange for race credentials.

Tom recommended me to a friend, giving them my website and Instagram for examples, and a week later saying:

Hey guess what…are you ready to take pics at Indy this year??

Me:

With it being the 100th running of the Indy 500 I could not contain my excitement. I was sitting here at Purdue in my room working on homework and I quite literally fell off of my chair and jumped around.

Having gone with my family for about the past 8-10 years or so, that number ~ 100 ~ is very significant and I realize the tradition that I have gotten the chance to witness all the times I have been, even though it is short relatively to how long the race has been going on – there is not much that beats the sound of an IndyCar racing past you at ~220mph. Last year being able to photograph it for the first time with the AAMB was so much fun, huge thanks to Courtney Eash for allowing me to follow them around the track all morning.

The All-American Marching Band Playing during the pre-race activities at the 99th Running of the indianapolis 500 Mile Race as seen from the Pagoda patio.

All%20American%20Marching%20Band

This year will be the All-American Marching Band’s 97th time participating in the festivities on race day, which in and of itself is very impressive and I am very thankful to be a part of capturing the moments.

A couple more photos from last year’s race with the AAMB:

All-American Marching Band

All-American Marching Band

All-American Marching Band

I really only got into photography a little over a year ago, and so lat year I was definitley more of a newbie, per-say. I didn’t really know what kinds of shots I wanted going in, I just kind of agreed to help and wung it!

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with how the photos from last year turned out, but what I am most excited for, for this year is to be able to take everything I have learned from my past year and apply it to this event. I started with no idea really what to do or take pictures of and have pretty much taught myself a good amount of what I know. The rest I have learned from my very good friend Mr. Wegiel – whose work is astonishing. He is also waiting to hear back if he is going to be getting a credential for this year’s 500, and I really hope he does because that would be a lot of fun to be able to shoot alongside him.

A 41 shot photomerge of the pre-race activities on Pit-Road.

It sounds self-explanatory, but the biggest thing I have learned about photography and making good looking photos, is framing. “Rule” of thirds and others, in how you situate things in the frame to tell a story really bring a photo to life sometimes. I say “rule” because there are truly no rules (other than some laws where you can’t take photos/etc if you want to be picky) when making a photo.

You choose how it turns out!

My favorite shot from last year’s 500 is this, of the Pagoda just over an hour before the race began:

I asked the kind security guy in the yellow if I might be able to walk out onto the track and make a picture of the Pagoda because my lens wasn’t wide enough. (I was shooting with a crop body Canon Rebel T5i and an 18-55 kit lens) and from Pit Road, really couldn’t get a nice shot of it without the vertical distortion looking horrible)

The clouds that day were gorgeous and I knew I wanted to get those in frame, but even all the way out at the barrier on the race track, I still couldn’t seem to be wide enough. So this photo is made of 6 shots – merged together in Lightroom.

I am going to be down at the track likely the whole month of May from practice, to qualifying, to pole day shooting for Schmidt Peterson – and it is going to be awesome.

James Hinchcliffe, Mikhail Aleshin, and Oriol Servia will be their drivers this year for the 500.

There are a lot of opportunities to come to make some great pictures, and I cannot wait to seize those opportunities.

Stay tuned!

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