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  • Manny Espinoza

My Creative Approach to Capturing IndyCar Driver Pato O'Ward


If you're a keen photographer, you know it takes a lot more than just owning a good camera to capture the perfect shot. You also need to know your subject and the environment in which you'll be shooting. This was the situation I found myself in when I wanted to photograph IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward racing in the #5 Arrow McLaren at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Despite not having an inside the fence photo vest, I was still able to capture a stunning photo of Pato O'Ward coming off the infamous corkscrew. In this blog, I'll take you through my approach and how I captured the photo that even Pato O'Ward himself liked on Instagram.

I knew that I wanted to capture Pato O'Ward in motion, and to do this, I needed to carefully select my camera and lens. I opted for my Fujifilm GFX 100s medium format camera and GF 110 F2 lens, both of which would enable me to capture sharp and high-quality images. With my camera in hand, I headed to the corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where I knew I would get a good view of the cars coming off the corkscrew headed to turn 9 Rainey Curve. .

When I arrived at the corkscrew, I looked for an elevated area with trees that partially impaired my view of the track. This provided an ideal location for my shot since it created a unique backdrop for the image. I had to work quickly to identify an open area between the trees where I could frame Pato O'Ward. This required patience and a keen eye, as I had to wait for the right moment to capture the shot.

To create the motion blur effect in my image, I set my camera shutter speed to 1/100th of a second, f10, and ISO 50. This combination allowed me to create a cool motion blur effect, while still keeping the image sharp and in focus. With my settings in place, I started tracking the IndyCars as they came off the corkscrew, waiting for a clear shot of Pato.

The resulting photo was nothing short of stunning, capturing the speed and action of the race, with Pato O'Ward clearly in focus and blurred surroundings. You don't need expensive equipment or a photo vest to capture a great image – all you need is creativity, patience, and the right approach.


Capturing the perfect photo of an IndyCar driver like Pato O'Ward requires a combination of skill, technique, and creativity. Through my experience and approach, I was able to capture a stunning shot of Pato O'Ward at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, using a combination of unique settings and an understanding of the environment. Whether you're looking to improve your photography skills or simply appreciate motorsports photography, my approach can provide a valuable lesson in capturing stunning images that leave a lasting impression.

Remember to follow me on Instagram @carmelsphotographer or visit my website at to see more of my work.


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