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When Less Becomes More – Looking Back at 2015

More than ever before, 2015 has been a very different year. This is now the fifth year I’ve reflected on the past 12 months sharing my motorsport adventures thanks to the awesome crew at Fatlace.

Before we even get started, I sincerely want to thank you for taking the time to check this out and I really hope you enjoy it! One of the things I’ve most noticed in the last 12 months is that when people ask how it’s all going, the fact that I can respond that “I’m still making it happen” is the best possible answer to have! Since I first picked up a camera and started taking photos at events in 2009, my motorsport photography has taken me down a path that I never could have imagined. Honestly I can still can barely grasp it somedays.

There was a time in the not too distant past, where I was at an event every other weekend working tirelessly to hone my craft. Focusing on that delicate balance of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. As I’ve travelled further down this path, I’ve come to realise how much more there is to learn, slowly understanding the next bit of gear you’re lusting after won’t be the one thing that changes your game. This presented an opportunity to reflect on why I do this in the first place.

Taking time to reflect has seen a distinct change in the way that I pursue photography. Adding a Canon 1V 35mm film camera to my arsenal was the first big step in this shift in this process, then not long after I was fortunate to receive a Yashica-D TLR medium format camera from a good friend. When you’ve only got 36 frames to play with or as few as 12 in the Yashica, they suddenly become significantly more valuable. Add to this the cost of the film, the processing and the patient wait to see the result, you take extreme care with each frame, rather that just blasting off a few more for good measure.

I’ve been working to bring this process of patience and care across to my digital work, applying the same theory to make every frame count. The main bonus is not having so many to throw away at the end of an event! I see all to often other photographers complaining about how hard it is to find paid work, how everyone wants shoots for free and the general decline of the industry. This is too true, as we have all seen. Simply buy a DSLR and make a watermark – Boom! Instant Pro Photographer. However, if you genuinely want the industry to be better, perhaps consider taking the time to make yourself better first.

The timing of this self-reflection is not entirely coincidental, as in April this year my wife and I welcomed our first son to the world. With responsibilities at home, I wanted to be there for both my wife and my boy. At the same time however, I hope that one day the little guy looks back at what his old man was doing and what I worked so hard for. I hope this helps one day to inspire him to pursue his own dreams, whatever they may be.

Not long before the little guy was due to join us, I ran the gauntlet and made a trip to Italy with Liam Talbot Racing for the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series with Kessel Racing in the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.

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Visiting the fabled track of Monza was a surreal experience. Walking through pit lane, then into the forest towards Ascari corner.

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I sat in the stands marvelling at the place that was famed for its high speed banked corners that both made and destroyed legends.

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Monza is a beautiful track, but it had some tough competition in that part of Italy, as we took in the simply breathtaking Lake Como. Before you ask, no we didn’t see George Clooney, but I did find where his house is!

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Walking the grounds of Monza and exploring every square inch of the place on foot is the best way to get a feel for the track and to find the place you want to shoot from.

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There are the obvious ones when you find the cutouts, then the places that just speak to you. Exploring the old bank was an almost a religious experience. Walking under and examining the old crumbling pylons, the rusted rio bars there is a feeling that is difficult to explain.

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You can feel the excitement, the tension and the fear all at once.

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When you emerge from the forest and find the old track, you first see that it has been resurfaced to prevent it from falling apart and you even see locals riding past on their push bikes. The incline of the bank simply cannot be communicated through photographs. If you sprint up from the bottom, you might just be able to make it to the top. I couldn’t!!!

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The race itself was a hell of an experience for Liam and the Kessel Racing team.

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Before heading over, Liam had put in significant practice on the sim as this was his first ever race at the track.

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Not only did he qualify first in class, but they went on to win their category, a seriously impressive debut performance.

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After the race was over, we took a trip to the countryside to visit a tiny little factory near Modena. As I am told, the owner still lives upstairs and below a dedicated team of workers hand-make some of the most impressive cars on the planet. We were incredibly fortunate to be given a private tour of the manufacturer that is Pagani. In what was a very special touch, they were even flying the Australian flag for our arrival.

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To see the hand carved models in a case on the wall that Horacio Pagani created when he was just 6 years old, hinted at his extraordinary future.

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The main foyer housed these two beauties.

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Only  a little fast.

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Then in a corner was this AMG thumper, powering the new Hyura.

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Behind closed doors, cameras were not allowed. However what I saw was far from what I expected. A modest room that you could easily mistake for a tailor that got lost in a mechanics workshop. The staff worked with large scissors, delicately cutting the carbon fibre to be laid over the moulds. As a manufacturer that takes pride in the smallest of details, the care and attention taken is nothing short of astonishing. When we had the chance to see some of the final assembly that is usually well off limits. We were shown some of the smallest most insignificant bolts that will most likely never be seen by the owner, proudly stamped with the Pagani logo. Before I left the building, I just couldn’t help but get a shot of that trademark exhaust.

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I made it back to Australia with plenty of time to spare and my boy was born just weeks later. I then hung up the cameras to take on the role of new dad.

Sort of. Take that Anne Geddes!

 

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During my brief hiatus, I did manage to spend time shooting with my buddy Matt Stewart who was commissioned to paint a massive installation thanks to Brisbane City Council and Cirque du Soleil.

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There was one very special event on the horizon that had been lingering with some difficult memories from the year before. In 2014, our assault on the Spa 24 Hour was tragicly cut short when our team mate Marcus Mahy was shunted through a high speed section of the track that ended in a horrific collision. Against unbelievable odds, he managed to survive and made a slow and challenging recovery demonstrating his fighting spirit and determination every step of the way. Marcus joined us back in Belgium for the race as a technical advisor, assisting Liam every step of the way. Having hung up his helmet and now retired from racing, to have him back facing this epic event alongside us made it an even more special experience.

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We all had something to prove, as this gruelling race had chewed us up and spit us out the year before and every one of us wanted to come back and show it who’s boss.

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Only in Belgium, the beautiful town near the track hosting the launch of the event. (Make sure you check out the Leonidas chocolate shop in town too!)

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With a packed field, challenging conditions and broken rain it was going to be a test, but it was one that we were prepared for.

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The rain cleared by the following day to make way for some stunning racing.

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You can see the battle damage from the hours of endurance racing.

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It never stops being beautiful and as they say in the classics… Baby got back.

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As always, the team from Kessel Racing kept things running smoothly. The commitment of the guys when totally exhausted is to be admired. They are always on the job, ready at a moments notice.

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The fierce ongoing battles after hour upon hour of racing remain one of the greatest attractions of this marathon event as teams jostle for positions.

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Even though 24 Hour races take you well beyond your comfort zone, they are by far the most exciting racing to shoot as there is always so much going on! During the course of the event, I even spotted the Aston Martin Vulcan!

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As a motorsport lover, Eau Rouge corner holds a special place in my heart. The one photo that I desperately wanted to get was a long exposure at the top in the middle of the night. This shot was 12 months in the making, having missed the chance in 2014, so to go back and get it in 2015 really meant a lot to me. It is one of only two of my motorsport photos that hang in our family home. To cap off a very successful return, Liam and the Kessel team secured a podium taking out third in class.

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Back home, family adventures took us west to Tenterfield as a rare snowstorm came through so we ventured off hoping to catch a glimpse. Taking the road less travelled, we were driving along dirt tracks when the sky cleared to revel a perfect rainbow. We leapt out of the car and my wife summoned all her strength to recreate our Lion King moment.

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It’s not motorsport, but it’s certainly one of my favourite shots of 2015. Incredibly, we managed to find some snow too. For those of you that know your geography, to see snow anywhere near my hometown of Brisbane is a rarity at best!

In August, I joined my Dad as we took his his toys out for a spin.

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A lifelong car enthusiast and most certainly the cause of my motorsport madness, to see him painstakingly find and slowly acquire the cars of his dreams in his retirement has been a joy. The fact that he even lets me have a drive on occasion is just a bonus!

September in Brisbane saw the return of a very special event. The Cootha Classic – Festival of Motorsport was revived by local legend James Payne, breathing life back in to an event that had fallen by the wayside.

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Less than 10 minutes to the centre of town and with stunning views overlooking the city, the event attracted some of the most stunning vehicles.

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One of the most impressive was this Group B monster, that I’d certainly never seen before!

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What really separated this event from most was the wide array of cars competing, everything from historics to dedicated hill climbers right through to time attack monsters! 

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October brought with it a special assignment. In the space of a week, I had the opportunity to venture to the south of France to Circuit Paul Ricard. What we were up to is still hush hush, but on the DL, I can tell you it was insane! I am genuinely excited to share that adventure in the not too distant future.

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As December rolled around, I was itching to get back out to the track. The Queensland Raceway Xmas Bash provided the perfect occasion to run a few frames through the cameras and even a roll of film. I should have those back in January!

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Looking towards 2016, I have no idea what the future holds. All that I can work towards and hope for is that when someone asks me how its all going, I can still reply that I’m making it happen!

 

Post Script: I’ve got a few people to thank, as this is far from a one man show. First and foremost, my long suffering wife Angela and my little man. To my buddy Liam, I can never thank you enough for the opportunities you have provided me. My post production guru Shaun Maluga, thank you for putting up with my incompetence and showing me the way with Lightroom. My team at TPR Media who put in the overtime when I am away, my sincere thanks. To Susan at Brisbane Camera Hire, I totally blame you for my film addiction. Last but not least, to my friends and family that both shake their heads but at the same time offer a nod of respect, thank you for your ongoing support. Chances are, it’s only gong to get worse from here! 😉

 

 

Check out these legends to whom I owe many thanks;

Liam Talbot Racing

Kessel Racing

Blancpain Endurance Series 

Shaun Maluga

Aus Garage

Matt Stewart

Brisbane Camera Hire

 

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SCOTT NELSON

Even as a child, I was always drawn to the automotive world. I've spent the past ten years building a career that revolves heavily around cars and motorsport. In that time, I've had the privilege to work with some of the most influential automotive brands and travel the world to tell their stories. \\ Instagram @scottnelson_au