May 132015

“The Calm Before the Storm” photo copyright Krista Baldwin

“The Calm Before the Storm”
Being able to travel the country with the NHRA drag racing circuit lets me have the opportunity to shoot some amazing shots of the drivers and the crewmembers. This shot is of my grandfather, Chris “The Greek” Karamesines. He is a legend in the sport by being the first to 200 mph in 1960 and he is the oldest active driver in Top Fuel at the age of 83. These cars accelerate to speeds of 320 mph in just under 4 seconds. I try to convey that moment right before a run down a drag strip that you recollect your thoughts and calm your mind. This moment is very crucial because you do not want your mind to wander away when you are about to go 300 mph. It is mostly a focusing tool that I and many other drivers use right before we have to go down the quarter mile. In just a manner of minutes the driver sits with a 10,000 horsepower machine and the driver is in control of this rocket that they are strapped to. Personally during this time I do my yoga breathing and close my eyes. This really helps to bring your hear rate down because you do not want to be so excited that you do not concentrate on what you need to be doing. Making this image is more difficult than you think. Every driver has their own routine and as the photographer, I have to be in the right spot at the right time to capture this exact moment.  I didn’t really change the photo except for a little bit of a tighter crop just to zero in on the driver and a touch of saturation.  Since I took my time to compose the shot, I do not need to change much of the image.

This photo was shot in Gainesville, Fl. At the Gator Nationals with a Canon Eos Rebel T3 with an 18-55 mm lens (kit lens). It was ISO 400, 55mm, f/13, and a shutter of 1/160. Like I said before I brought up saturation just a touch and a tighter crop. I want the colors to really shine through and make it feel that it is “busy” and the driver is just waiting in the calm before the storm so to speak. When you are sitting in the seat strapped with a 5-point seat harness, there is a lot of commotion happening around you. Cars are going down the track, your crew is making last minute adjustments to the car, and the other drivers are also just sitting there. It’s a powerful moment and that is why I chose to display this image.

About the Photographer:
As being the granddaughter and daughter of Top Fuel pilots, it is not crazy that I want to get my time to drive as well. I currently drive a front engine Nostalgia Eliminator 1 dragster that goes 180 mph under 8 seconds down the track. Being a driver, it has increased my interest to photograph more intimate things with the driver rather than just shooting the car. I want to show the audience that it is not just driving a really fast car; it’s about taking your life at stake and doing something that you have passion for.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

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