The Big Picture 2012 - editors' choice

After announcing our viewers' choice for best Big Picture of 2012 here, we're pleased to reveal the editors' choice, a photo of the Manthey Racing Porsche entering the Karussel at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring this year, shot by our very own Eric Gilbert. We hope you enjoyed looking at all these great images from 2012 as much as we did editing them! Happy New Year!

Let's have Eric describe his own photo and the context in which he shot it:

"24 Hours of the Nürburgring, 2012-05-20. Light my fire.

First of all, I would like to make something clear: contrary to popular belief, no special effect and Photoshop trick was used in this photo. Hopefully, I won't disappoint anyone, but my approach for this one was fairly old school: find a place where the cars tend to 'get close to the track' and spark (a lot), wait until it's dark, and slow the shutter speed down to 1/8 of a second (and less) - this one was shot at 1/4 second.

And shoot a lot - at some point, you'll get something. Like this major fireworks show caught at the Karussell (on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, of course), courtesy of the #11 Team Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 R. While shooting this one, I could already see some major sparks action going on, so it was easy to figure that it would be a winner. For some reason (the four drivers on this car are all kamikaze so this could be the reason :-), the car really hit hard on one of those concrete sections that make the lower banking section of the Karussell - I just love those concrete sections.

Then again, it all seems very easy, but one has to remember that the Karussell at night is a dark hole, as it is not lit by anything other than the cars themselves, oh and also by the campground on the inside of the curve. But otherwise, a photographer is in pitch darkness and basically has to use different tricks to get those moving cars in focus. One will also needs to use a slight dose of flash, not so much to lit the scene (which is impossible and would look bad anyway), but to freeze the car at whatever speed your flash is syncing. That's for the technical part.

For the 'human/logistics' part, to get to the Karussell, you'll also have to drive to never-ending campground (I swear it has to be the biggest in the world during the 24 Hours), full of 'good spirited' folks, and that, also in pitch darkness. No wonder we don't see that many night shots of the Karussell..."

For more pictures from the 2012 24 Hours of the Nürburgring: http://bit.ly/Vq8z1A

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