LIMA (Reuters) - The Dakar Rally is a race like no other, a two-week long endurance challenge across Peru and some of the harshest terrain and conditions on Earth.
This year’s event, finishing in Lima on Thursday, spanned thousands of kilometers with motorcycles, cars and trucks racing across vast deserts and towering dunes, from the Andes to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
As a photographer, I have had really good access with the helicopter and used one for most of the stages of the race. I’ve been wearing a harness attached to the helicopter, with the door open in order to shoot.
I like the abstract images best — the detail created by a motorcycle accelerating, the sand thrown up and combined with beautiful light so that it looks almost like a wave.
You have to have the camera exposures pre-set to be ready for the action but the light is constantly shifting as clouds move across the sky.
You point the camera and expose for the highlights and hope the vehicle comes into the frame and drives between the shadows of the clouds.
You start reading the dunes ahead of reaching them. “Now it’s beautiful golden light, I’m going to shoot a landscape.” Or “Now there are great shadows, I’m going to play with that.”
You can feel like a grain of sand in these massive dunes, and everything can change so quickly. Every choice you make is a gamble — the exposure you set, the dune you choose to climb.
You have to make a decision of where to go based on the route coordinates that the organizers give you, but that is not a guarantee, as there is not a set track.
When the car or helicopter drops you off you have to read the track marks in the sand, and predict where you will get the shot you want.
For a photo essay of the Dakar Rally reut.rs/2HhZkFe
Writing by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Alison Williams