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Matinee: Marcelo Maragni at Rally Dakar Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

20 January 2018

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 133rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Marcelo Maragni at Rally Dakar.

Yesterday we featured a link to Alan Taylor's Photos From the 2018 Dakar Rally so we thought we'd follow that up with a behind-the-scenes look at photographing the race with Red Bull Photography's Marcelo Maragni from São Paulo in Brazil.

It opens dramatically. You're standing right behind him as the scene unfolds, a truck going airborne as it crests a small, sandy hill. Maragni gets the shot, the video freezes on the still and then the scene continues. It's over in a flash.

Leaving behind, we should add, nothing but sand flying through the air. And as Maragni follows the truck leaving the scene, we can see he's wearing a bandana over his nose and mouth to protect his lungs.

It's funny, he says, that you spend so many hours prepping for what amounts to 10 minutes of work.

His camera and lenses should be so lucky.

After he introduces himself, the video picks up at the campsite in the morning where, as dawn breaks, he explains he has to find "the shooting spot" for the day.

It's not easy. The rally organizers don't publicize the route much in advance. When he finally gets the way points, he has to look them up on maps, find access roads using an app and search Google Earth (if he has Internet access) to preview the spot.

In he next scene, we join him in his vehicle as he drives to the spot he chose. He's driving down a dry river to get there. Which may remind you of your last Uber ride, but this is bumpier. And ends with a hill climb.

The Dakar Rally, he says, is 10 percent photography and 90 percent being in the right spot, dealing with the problems you find with the road, going off road, dealing with a lack of sleep and trying to get in the right mood to shoot action.

No wonder he doesn't bother to protect the cameras and lenses.

We see him shoot some bikes cutting through the sand before he takes a moment to tell us he only has to wait for a few more riders before he's done. It's funny, he says, that you spend so many hours prepping for what amounts to 10 minutes of work.

But he's not really done.

There's more work in post processing, which he does on a laptop from his vehicle. He has a satellite Internet connection from Inmarsat mounted on the roof of the vehicle so he can transmit his keepers.

But first we see him add metadata to the images to identify the race, participants, the location and more. The process is automated, saving him enough time that he's one of the first to get his photos online. More than 200 hundred.

He follows the race route back to camp, he says at the end, "but quite slower."

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