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Mark Peters : July 8th 2005 - 13:00 CET

Ferrari Photography Exhibition by Jon Nicholson

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OlympusAt the start of the 2003 Formula 1 Grand Prix season, Olympus embarked on a long term sponsorship agreement with the most successful team in the history of the sport, Scuderia Ferrari. Olympus is delighted to sponsor this exhibition of Jon’s work which is a selection of images taken during the past 3 years of Olympus’ sponsorship of Scuderia Ferrari. The framed prints are available for purchase with proceeds being donated to The Macmillan Service Midhurst. "I am thankful to work between two such prestigious brands. I am impressed with the E-System and I am incredibly appreciative of the access Ferrari has allowed me to enable me to create such great photographs." The Exhibition takes place at Carpaccio Restaurant, 4 Sydney Street, London.
Ferrari Photography Exhibition by Jon NicholsonAbout photographer Jon Nicholson
Nicholson's involvement with racing came about through his friendship with Damon Hill and he produced a book in conjunction with Olympus about the highs and lows of Hill's 1996 season which saw him win the World Championship title. While his racing buddy has retired from the sport, Nicholson has found that the F1 paddock is a hard place to leave. In the heat of the desert, at the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, we caught up with Nicholson who talked us through his race weekend routine. "It's all mapped out two or three races in advance, in terms of knowing which corners on the track you will go to for your action shots and on which day you operate where. For example, on Friday morning, for the first practice session, there's no reason to go to the furthest point of the circuit as the top teams won't be doing many laps then."

Grand Prix photographers
Jon is one of a fifty strong group of accredited Grand Prix photographers who attend every single race on the calendar, setting up his equipment and computer and renting a phone line to file his photos. At each Grands Prix Jon works closely with Italian teammate, the Ferrari Olympus photographer Callo Albanese. While Formula 1 is all about the most technically advanced cars in the world racing one another, some of the best shots are to be had in the garages down the pit lane. "Working inside the garage is a dangerous environment and you have to be hyper-alert because the guy rushing through with a tyre trolley is not going to ask you to move," says Nicholson.

Hard to concentrate on everything
"He's just going to barge you out the way! When you are looking through a viewfinder it's hard to concentrate on everything, but somehow you have to. If you mess up once, you won't be allowed back in. And even though the cars are going slower than on the track, they are still moving quickly down the pit lane, so you need your wits about you."

F1 photographer
The life of an F1 photographer is physically demanding as it invariably involves plenty of walking around the circuit to get the best shots. "And you are not travelling light either," insists Jon. "You have a variety of lenses including a really long one and a couple of bodies, but at least you don't need to carry film around now that we have gone digital. At a street circuit like Monaco there are lots of hills and flights of stairs to deal with, while somewhere like Malaysia is physically demanding because of the heat and humidity."

Olympus editing software
The end of a practice session or race gives Jon the opportunity to take the weight off his feet. "That's when I download the shots I have taken onto computer. Once or twice a day I will start to edit the photos using the Olympus software, which is very intuitive and easy to use. I then re-size the images and send them as 8MB in compressed form, so that it takes about 2 minutes to send 1 picture down the line. But I will also back up with high-resolution images at the end of the day."

Dangerous occupation
Apart from the race track marshals, photographers get closer to the action than anyone else at the races. With cars capable of speeds of over 300 km/h, it can be a dangerous occupation. "Last year at the Hungarian Grand Prix, I had a very close call," recalls Nicholson. "I was standing behind a barrier at the end of a fast section of track. I was kneeling down changing a lens and a film cameraman in front of me just hit the deck. I heard a terrible noise of metal on metal, so I didn't bother even turning round before doing the same as I heard the roar get louder. One of the cars had broken its suspension and had slammed into the barrier just a few metres from where I was standing and some of my colleagues were hit by debris, but fortunately no one was badly hurt."

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