Google Street View on a race track.
Google Street View: Oak Tree Turn, Virginia International Raceway. [Click on the photo to see a larger version.]
Funny little coincidence, today. While I was eating a late lunch at my desk, today, I saw this tweet from Andy Adams of Flak Photo:
If you click on the link in the tweet, it will take you to a brief story about Jon Rafman, who searches Google Street View for interesting photos and comes up with some pretty great stuff. (You can the photos he's found, here.)
A few minutes later, I surfed over to Virginia International Raceway's [VIR] website to check out the schedule for next weekend's Sportscar Vintage Racing Association's Heacock Classic Gold Cup races. While I was on the site, I discovered that Google Street View has photographed the track in a way that will allow you to follow the entire circuit.
So, I followed and came up with a cool find of my own: VIR's famous Oak Tree Turn.
Most views in Google Street aren't particularly interesting, of course. In order to make the photo above, I had to locate the image of Oak Tree Turn that I wanted to use (there are many possibilities within Street View) and use the Street View's tool to orient (that is, to frame) the picture as I wanted it to look. I also made some minor adjustments in Photoshop.
Voila!, I had joined the ranks of those who "curate" Google Street View.
It's a strange experience. The rough draft of the image above was made by an automated camera with no direct input from a photographer. Many months after the Street View camera photographed the track, I made the image that you see by re-framing the original and saving the new image to my computer, where I could Photoshop it.
Like I said, the experience felt strange, but actually it's nothing new. People have been manipulating automated images for a long time. (I'm thinking, for instance, of the machine-made aerial reconnaissance photos that have been common ever since the early decades of the twentieth century.) It's the tremendous ease with which we can retrieve and work with the images that makes the experience novel.
The race fans among you know that Oak Tree Turn is no more. The trunk of "Most Famous Tree in Racing" split last July, causing the tree to fall, an event that generated a surprising amount of sadness in the racing community. You can see what the turn looks like now, here.