Capturing footage from the Pimlico Starting Gate at Preakness

2 videos

Sun photographer Karl Merton Ferron always wanted to shoot the view from the Pimlico Starting Gate. Here’s how he did it.

Karl Merton Ferron positions a remote camera on the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course. (Jeffrey F. Bill)

After three years of contemplating a short video documenting the starting gate on Preakness Day, I finally had the opportunity to shoot and produce a piece this past weekend at Preakness 2012.

Limitations prevented me from making the video as in-depth as I had hoped, but I still managed to capture enough footage from two starts to make it work.

A major part of the setup was using 808 #11 keychain cameras, which were small enough to mount at various positions on the starting gate structure. The Sun purchased several magnetic-mount wide angle and fisheye adapters, and I spent the previous week using epoxy resin to secure metal rings around the lens on each camera.

The night before, I jury-rigged some round, strip magnets with Velcro to mount the cameras, which weigh 15 grams (1/2 ounce) each. After mounting each camera, I started the recorder, and the footage was saved onto micro SD memory cards.

In one instance, creative camera placement captured one horse that was so close to the camera that its nose filled the frame. Additional footage was captured with a Nikon D3S DSLR camera and I used software to make the actual footage appear in slow motion.

In the end, the idea was to provide an interesting and intimate perspective of the inner workings of the starting gate, a key element to thoroughbred racing.



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