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Monday, June 11, 2007

Regis Lefebure - Motor Drive Required

In the 200 mph world of professional motorsports, a photographer needs to be able to get ahead just to keep up with the action. Regis Lefebure relies on experience and the right gear to get the shots.


Motor Drive Required Speed. Color. Power. Control. Digital imaging has brought these elements to the forefront of my motorsports photography as never before—they're integral to photographing the sport. Computers with 64-bit processors, Adobe's Photoshop CS and Camera Raw, laptops with 17-inch screens, high-speed Internet, and powerful, blazing-fast digital SLR cameras have become my photography tools of choice.

The advent of 35mm-based digital imaging has brought wholesale changes to photography. These amazing tools enable me to capture, edit, process and deliver images to my clients fast and with a tremendous amount of control. Shooting with film, in retrospect, was burdensome, slow and expensive. No longer am I strung out on that photographic umbilical cord connecting me to film-processing lab technicians who once held sway over my delicate emotional state. No more worrying about the variables associated with exposing film. Will it be sharp? Properly exposed? How's the processing at this new lab? Will the emulsion be scratched in transport through the processor or in mounting? Will the client damage, or worse, lose that one-of-a-kind transparency?

Digital has freed me to expand and explore creative boundaries once limited because of the worry and uncertainty inherent when shooting film. For the kind of high-speed motorsports photography that is my passion, the risks of missing the shot on film because I was trying something new and radical were just too great. I tend to be conservative; the instant feedback with my digital SLRs, though, has given me the confidence and flexibility to try new ideas all the time. Digital has reinvigorated me creatively.

When shooting film, it was necessary to carry a variety of ISOs as well as emulsions with different color balances—it was a travel burden and an expense of both time and money. Before each event requiring travel, I'd have to contact local photo-processing labs after scouring the Internet or calling professional shooters in cities near the location. Questions would arise, regarding lab hours, charges for push-processing and imprinting on slide mounts, running film on the Saturday night and Sunday evening of the race weekend and, of course, the fees for doing so. More time was spent calling fellow shooters to entice them into running film at the labs near the race circuits to help defray the costs of keeping the labs open after hours. On occasion, we'd do our edits at the lab while our film continued to run through the processors—80, 100, 130 rolls—some run normal, most pushed one stop, incurring higher fees for the push-processing. After slamming through a 10-hour edit at the lab or hotel room, I'd race to the airport and deliver the package of slides to the London-bound editor or photo editor.

Mostly, I'd return to the office with exposed film and drop it at the lab Sunday night or Monday morning. Washington, D.C., where I'm based, isn't the photography-rich community that's New York, Miami, L.A. or San Francisco. The earliest labs open at 9 a.m. in D.C., and the first rolls of film aren't ready until 12:30. My edits would go well into Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday. My clients in Europe wouldn't get the FedExed film edit until noon Friday—five full days would pass before my client could get a look at the images!



 

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