I have spent years photographing the action at numerous tracks, always for the love of it, and always from the spectator’s enclosures. As soon as I got my first car at 18, I bought a 35mm SLR and a couple of inexpensive lenses and spent weekends photographing rallies all over the country. I read all sorts of photography books and went out at the weekend to try the techniques. It was a good way to learn, and the results got better as I understood the effects of aperture, shutter speed and lighting. Back then, I never quite knew what I’d captured until the prints came back from the photo lab. I’ll include a few rally pictures, though I don’t have records of shutter speeds and aperture settings. After a few years in remote forests, I started to take interest in the more civilised circuit racing scene.
The change from film to digital has revolutionised photography. With the popularity of digital SLR cameras has come a new generation of Motorsport photographers finding their way. Over the last few years, I’ve found people looking over my shoulder at the LCD screen and asking how I get those pictures. I’ve helped them to change a few settings on their own cameras and get better results. This has been the inspiration to write this blog, to guide new enthusiasts through the complexities and achieve even better results.
I’ll also include notes on where and when to go to get the best chance of taking great photos. If you’re visiting a track for the first time, you’ll have a head start in finding a good spot to shoot from.
I hope you enjoy the blog and take better pictures as a result of reading it!
Sony A450, 200 mm, F3.5′ 1/400 s, ISO-200
This shot was taken during practice at the Monaco Grand Prix. We got practice tickets for Tabac and Casino Square. This was FP2, having spend FP1 at Tabac. It was a bit of a dull day, with the odd shower passing through, hence struggling for shutter speed and needing to up the ISO setting on the camera to 200. The lens was an aging Tokina 70-200 mm Pro spec lens that would have been built for a Minolta (Sony bought Minolta and use their mount, good source of lenses). As you would expect, F1 cars are pretty quick through here, so not that many shots were successful, it was tricky getting composition, and you can see even with the fast shutter speed that the scenery is slightly blurred from panning. It was also tricky because I couldn’t move about, you have a seat and are expected to stay sat in it – no standing up to give yourself more freedom to shoot. Anyway, this isn’t a bad shot of Jenson Button in the McLaren.