I was very disappointed when earlier this year the Syracuse Hydrofest was cancelled due to high water levels on Onondaga Lake which I have enjoyed photographing the last two years. Lucky for me, a new inboard hydroplane race was being held this year on Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York called HydroBowl. As you will soon see, Seneca Lake is not just about wine and beer.
HydroBowl featured vintage racing boats like the J-444 Big John’s Edelweiss which was a multi-year champion back in the 1970’s. The vintage boats did not race. Instead, they did “fly-bys” so the spectators could enjoy seeing the boats on the water.
The day started out with overcast grey clouds which was reflected in the lake’s waters. As the day progressed, the clouds dissipated and a sunny blue sky came out to create a beautiful early autumn day in the Finger Lakes.
To celebrate, I slowed down my shutter and did some panning attempts of the Grand National Hydro class heats.
My favorite class is the 5.0 Liter inboard hydroplanes who can reach speeds of 150 mph (241 kph) and tend to have very close races with the high skill levels of the drivers and teams. The photo below will give you an idea how close to the edge hydroplanes get during a race. They do literally fly over the water’s surface.
The race day went late into the afternoon and the Sun dipped below a bank of clouds to the west of the race location. The sky was still blue above and the mix of less light and low angle of the Sun created a bluish-grey color in the roostertails and water as the boats finished up the last of the heat races.
I want to thank the HydroBowl organization for bringing inboard hydroplane racing back to the Finger Lakes. The setting was beautiful and there was a good crowd for a new event. The racers I talked to really enjoyed the venue and are looking forward to returning next year and for years to come.
I saw a lot of competitive racing last weekend which reminded me to remind you this month’s assignment on competition is due this week.
BONUS: I had this idea. What would a panned photo of a hydroplane look like after being tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro’s Plugin for Aperture 3? I think it looks pretty good!