The Goodwood Festival of Speed is back in force this weekend and if you're an adrenaline junkie who likes the taste of petrol in the morning it's definitely a show for you. There's still a few tickets available but if you can't make it this July there's the revival event in September or you could try your luck next year.
The festival is the world's largest car event with Formula One cars, classic vehicles and bikes lining up on the track. But if cars aren't your thing they'll be flying machines and people dressed to impress just waiting for your lens to come in their direction.
If you plan your day right you can get closer to the track then you may first think and a zoom lens such as a 70-200mm should do the job nicely. However, if it's photos of motorbikes you're after you may find a 300mm lens is a better option as bikes are smaller and can be lost in the frame. A wider lens is handy for the more scenic track shots and on overcast days. If you can get very close you may even find your 50mm useful, it's good to put in the bag for those quick portrait snaps you'll be able to get too. If you want to photograph the fighter jets and other planes that circle the air above the festival's grounds you'll need something much, much longer to create shots that fill the frame. Take a polarising filter along to reduce glare and make sure you have a spare battery, just in case. As you'll be panning for England you need a tripod for support. If you're looking to buy one see what Manfrotto
have to offer.
Check what you get for your money before you go as there's different tickets available. You can also pre-order programmes which will give you chance to suss out what's happening, where and when.
As with all events, it's important you arrive early both at the event and for each race you want to photograph. Take a walk round the track to find a prime position before the races begin and take advantage of the quiet grounds, taking photographs at the show stands and in the tents early on before the masses arrive and get in the way. It may sound silly but head to the car park when everyone's busy eating their lunch or watching a race you're not bothered about as you'll be surprised at the wide variety of cars that'll be parked up.
When it's approaching race time, make sure you're in position long before the green flag's waved as at popular races the crowd can be four or five people deep and it'll be a pain cropping out all of those heads after.
You also need to put enough distance between you and the cars if you want to get them all in frame as the safety barrier, which is a fence placed a couple of meters from a wall of hay bales, stops you seeing the wheels. Finding a bend where you can shoot more head on, chicanes are good, will get around this problem but you could also find somewhere slightly higher up but this will give you a less dramatic shot. If it's a particularly bright day, if the hay bales appear in your shot they can appear slightly overexposed so watch out for that.
To get the blurred background that gives race images their sense of speed you need to find the right shutter speed and get your panning technique perfected. You need to make sure your subject is crisp and sharp while the background is blurred into a mass of colour. Too higher shutter speed and you won't be successful but go too slow and you won't get the blur you're after. To pan smoothly you need to stand with your feet apart facing the way you want to take your shot. Then when the car approaches keep your bottom half still and turn your upper body, following the car as it moves along the track. Continuous focusing will also help you keep the bikes and cars sharp while you pan to keep pace.
Once you've breathed in enough petrol fumes head back to the crowds to shoot some candids or find the car models who will gladly pose for your camera.
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