Palio-di-Siena / by Bill Frakes

Last week we were in Italy. We spent time in Florence, Bassano del Grappa and Siena. One of the world's greatest sporting events takes place in Siena - Il Palio. Il Palio takes place twice each year, once in July and once in August, and its origins date back to Medieval times.

The show is incredible. The post parade is two and one half hours of traditional medieval uniform and song. It is truly a site to behold in the 21st century.

It was my third trip to the Palio, so I had a pretty good idea going in about what I wanted to do. We were each able to secure a position -I took the head on position by the start and finish line, Laura was i a balcony position. But neither of our positions could capture the chaos that is the Palio. For that, we knew we were going to need some remote cameras.

With the help of some Italian speaking friends of ours, I was able to secure an overall of the Piazza del Campo on top of a bank, and two overheads of the winner's parade to the Basilica after the race.

The overhead camera of the Piazza del Campo had to be in six hours before the race. We weren't sure exactly what the light was going to be like for the 8pm race, so we set the aperture and shutter speed we wanted and put the camera on auto-ISO. The auto-ISO capabilities of the D3s are extremely helpful in situations such as these.

That camera took over 1,300 photos. It captured a very nice angle of the race incorporating the scene into the image. That is the picture Sports Illustrated chose to run in their Leading Off section of the magazine.

We also set up two cameras on Athenas, the new Gitzo remote control heads. They are really incredible to work with. We also set these cameras up 6 hours before the race and gave each 3 positions to shoot. Through the head's software and Nikon's Camera Control Pro, we could change the settings and the positions of the cameras remotely. This head expands the way we can make images. With planning and foresight we have the opporunity to make photographs from places we otherwise couldn't be.

When the race was done and we were able to start editing back at the hotel, we realized that we had more than a couple really nice images. We quickly sent a gallery to Sports Illustrated and put together a 3 and a half minute multi media for the web and another 2 minute piece for the iPad.