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Six Top Motorsport / Car Photographers

Here is a round up of just some of the top motorsport and car photographers found on ePHOTOzine.

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'# 38 Dean Harrison' by mdoubleya

How did you get into motorsport photography?
I got into motorsport photography as I love motorcycle racing and ride a sportsbike myself, so to combine the two was the next step. I've been posting on ePHOTOzine for a while taking inspriation from many photographers who post on the site.

They all deserve way more credit and votes in my view as motorsport is often overlooked by many. I've had the chance to be an official media for motorcycle road racing in the UK at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
I think about the images I would like to capture when I'm travelling to the circuit. I think about corners, the riders, sun position etc. with a view to planning my day to get as many good images as possible. If the images are for teams or riders I talk through what they would like to see in an image of themselves and set out to capture that moment for them.

Once at a corner or point I think will get me my images, I manually meter the racetrack to obtain an idea of what actual light is available and adjust with a few test shots, checking not only visually but also checking the histogram to make sure the tones, shades of colour, brightness and everything else is correct. You also have to factor in a certain shutter speed to ensure the rider is sharp, that you have the right depth of field, motion blur and radial blur in wheels etc. A little trial and error is needed most of the time and your settings will change with light, weather etc. so you soon learn how to react quicker to what's in front of you.

What draws you to motorsport photography?
what draws me to motorcycle racing is the pure skill and energy involved and only two wheels! Plus, all the bikes riding so close when you only have a clear or light tint visor really shows true commitment and real trust in those around you. I love to capture that moment of pure concentration.


'BSB 2012 Champion' by MikeMar

How did you get into motorsport photography?
After three or four years of doing animal and landscape photography, I felt like a new challenge. I had been into bikes when I was young, so I went along to watch the Superbikes. I was then hooked on anything that moved fast.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
The first thing I look for is the background as it really needs to be as free from clutter as possible. Next, set up the camera; you need a slow shutter speed to catch the movement of the wheels etc. When the bike is getting close you need to pan as it goes past you, holding your camera as firm as you can.

It sounds quite easy, but to get a really good one of a Superbike that you could print at A3 takes a lot of frames!

I went to the Mach Loop in Wales a few weeks ago to photograph low flying RAF jets in training (that's another story!) Up at 4.30am, drive to Wales, climb a mountain with all your gear on your back and wait for the jets. Three came past in 7 hours, that gave me about 15 seconds to get the shot!

What draws you to motrosport photography?
The thing that draws me to motor sport is the atmosphere, sounds you hear, and the buzz you get when you get what you think is a great shot.

That's why I will go back to the Mach Loop again next year. When an RAF jet passes by you that close, it's a real buzz.


Tuscan S
'Tuscan S' by ade_mcfade

How did you get into car photography?
Purely by chance - my mate Chris has this Triumph Vitesse and was taking it out for a run. He picked me up and we went off towards Saddleworth Moor. I took the camera to take some landscapes up at Buckstone's and ended up shooting the car instead - though in a landscape style, using the same polariser and ND grad filters as I would usually use.

 A cool sunset really helped and a knowledge of landscape meant I was using the surroundings in the composition - reflections in puddles, lead lines from roads and all that kind of thing.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
Well my shots are about the car in a location rather than product shots - so the first thing is to work out "where". I've used the Moors a lot, some slum areas and also Granary Wharf in Leeds. I usually do a "lap" with a wider lens, shooting with a polariser and bracketing the shots for a potential HDR shot.

Then I'll get the 70-200mm f/2.8 out and do another lap from a distance, giving a different relationship betwen location and car.

After that, it'll be detail shots - usually using shallow depth of field to pick things out and to get a bit of a creative feel. Also, the blurry parts can be used for copy.

What draws you to car photography?
I can't afford a super car, so getting a millionaire to give me a blast around in theirs is amazing. Petrol heads are incredibly passionate and enthusiastic, so the reaction you get from making their car look great is a real buzz.

The shape of a car is designed to be pleasing, impressive and aspirational - put that object into a landscape or an industrial setting and I think you struggle to make something look unpleasant.


Outgoing Champion
'Outgoing Champion' by rickie

How did you get into motorsport photography?
I have been interested in motorsport since the early 70's when I used to go and see it with my parents. That was F1 initially and then I became interested in bikes when I bought my first motorbike and followed the likes of Sheene, Agostini, Roberts and Mick Grant.

I became interested in F1 again when Mansell, Senna and Prost were racing (definitely the best era in F1).

I much prefer to shoot bikes over cars as they are always moving around on the bike and the cars just don't look the same.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
When I go to a circuit I usually walk the track first to see the best places to shoot from and then go back to the car for my kit. I use two bodies with an 100-300mm f/4 lens and a 70-200mm f/4 lens with an extender. I sometimes use wider lenses and I also take a monopod and a pair of steps with me.

You always have to practise panning, especially for lower shutter speeds, and get your space early as everyone seems to have a DSLR at the circuits now so everyone is fighting for the best positions.

What draws you to motorsport photography?
I really like motorsport as it's fast moving, dangerous, thrilling and always a challenge to get great photos.


British touring cars by andypitstop 
'British Touring Cars' By andypitstop

How did you get into motorsport photography?
I have always been interested in motor sport of all kinds but have only ever been an armchair viewer. However, with the event of digital and the ease of multiple photos without the developing costs I was drawn track side. Taking one thousand images in a few hours is uncannily easy, still it keeps you occupied in the winter months.

It's a very challenging pursuit with so many factors playing a part, many being out of the photographer's control, the weather and lighting being a major headache as there is a constantly changing situation due to the high speed and continual fighting for position on the track. Being able to second guess a shot and a rider/driver's next move on a circuit is most of the fun. That with a steady hand to be able to track the driver/riders movement. Often the subject is moving at high speeds, 100 mph around some corners and 200 mph plus on the straights, and all the time they are trying to overtake each other.

Then if you can keep up with all those problems there is the desire for a clean shot, without loudspeakers, rubbish bins or race marshals in florescent orange jackets all wanting to make an appearance in the photo! Nearly all of the motor sport photographers on ePHOTOzine also have to shoot through or over the safety fencing, which is another challenge in itself!

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
The shots themselves and settings used are mainly governed by the overall feel you want the image to take. My shots are nearly always shutter priority based. Without exception I think the most important point is the sense of movement. Static wheels are very undesirable, but there is a very fine line regarding the settings used, between a sharp detailed rider or logos on the bodywork on the cars and having nice blurred wheels and background, especially as the subject speed and distance is always changing! Also the longer the lens the harder the lower shutter speeds are to keep sharp!

Experimentation and creativity with the shots is also very rewarding. There are so many things to look out for such as flames shooting from exhausts, wheels leaving the ground as they exit corners and parts of bodywork etc. hanging off and often rubbing the ground causing sparks. It's also good to use a variety of camera angles at the tracks such as at Druid's corner at Brands Hatch. The angles created by the dark tarmac against the light colour of the run of gravel highlight the car or rider to make a far more interesting image.

The final chance you get to be creative is when you get back to the computer in final processing, cropping images and using sections of the photo or making unusual angles of the subject can all make an ordinary shot really stand out and the possibilities are only governed by the photographer's imagination.

What draws you to motorsport photography?
There are so many reasons why we enjoy motor sport photography and why we keep coming back. We are always looking for that shot of the season, sometimes it's uncomfortable with the British weather but always a great atmosphere!


Bautista by cgp23
'Bautista' by cgp23

How did you get into motorsport photography?

Firstly I have to be clear on one thing; I do not do it professionally. Photography is purely a hobby to me (at the moment at least!) and I take pictures primarily for me as a fan. It also means I get to combine two of my interests, watching motorsport and taking photos. I started taking motorsport photographs in 2006 shortly after getting my first DSLR. This interest has only grown since, as has the determination to make every race meeting I attend yield better results than the last, because you only get that one chance to get ‘that’ shot.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
To me it is important to know the venue that you are going to in some detail, whether it be by seeing what other people have managed to shoot previously or from your own experience.

Understanding where there are or aren’t safety fences, grass banks to stand on etc. Knowing where the light will be most suitable at various points during the day, usually trying to avoid shooting into the sun.

How you set up for a shot varies greatly depending on the type of shot you are trying to achieve. For head on shooting I tend to use Aperture Priority when conditions are staying fairly regular. changing to Manual mode when the light / weather gets more inclement. The general rule I stick to, once you have established where your gear gives its sharpest results is to use it around that point and change the ISO to achieve a shutter speed of roughly 1/ the focal length of the lens. Of course this will vary according to the situation and available light. Sometimes you will want a larger aperture to blur a distracting background or a smaller one to bring other cars / bikes into focus during a race.

Panning is a different skill entirely, and one where I find that the background is possibly more important than the subject. For this I tend to use as low an ISO setting as possible and Shutter Priority setting. I tend to start with the camera set at about 1/100th of a second and work from there, the speed usually varies depending on the speed of the subject and the focal length of the lens I am using.

What draws you to motorsport photography?
The biggest attraction for me is the challenge of getting ‘that’ shot to capture the power, speed, skill and the atmosphere of the race track. Whether it be getting the close fought battles on raceday or the utter commitment and determination of a qualifying session.

I've always been a massive motorsport fan, from an early age I can remember going to Brands Hatch to watch the British Touring Cars and GT racing.

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