Shooting through the fence…

Without the privelidged access that the media photographers have, you sometimes find yourself struggling with catch fencing. The MSV circuits are not too bad for it, but there’s still the odd stretch. I was Oulton Park recently, and the entry to Lodge is a good spot, with the view back to Druids, but there is a fence. Very helpfully, MSV have put a grand stand in here, and it’s high enough to see over the fence. But, it does change your perspective – it’s nice to be as level as possible with the cars on track. So, here’s how to cope with the fence.

  1. Get as close as possible to the fence – not so your hitting it with the lens, but not far off.
  2. Use a long lens, so that the subject is not too close when you’re shooting. Basically, your maximising the distance at the other side of the fence, whilst minimising it at your side.
  3. Open up the aperture as wide as you can, ideally F4.0 or F2.8 if you have the lens.


(Taken on iPhone to illustrate)

You’ll be surprised how little influence the fence has. Panning a shot might not be ideal, you tend to loose a bit of clarity. Still, it might be fine, somewhere like Paddock Hill at Brands Hatch, where little else is possible. Here, I kept the camera still and looked to freeze the action:

Sports racer at Lodge Corner
Sports racer at Lodge Corner

Canon 80D, 300 mm, F4.0, 1/2000 s, ISO-400

Having set up to close the fence, the usual considerations take over. Keeping dry! You’ll notice the camo cover fitted. The wet weather meant it was quite dark, so to get a decent shutter speed I’m up at ISO 400. Autofocus on the 80D is stellar, but if you struggle in the dark, just pre-focus on the spot you know the car will arrive at and shoot accordingly. With one of my past cameras and an F5.6 lens I’d have had to do that on this day. Out of focus car in background gives the shot some depth. This was taken in portrait orientation and then cropped down to more of a square – works better on screen than a full portrait.

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