Once you’ve got the right equipment, it’s time to deal with the challenges of modern F1 circuits. Jonny Henchman with part 2 of our guide to taking awesome F1 photos.
When you visit an F1 circuit for the first time as a camera-touting spectator, you are likely to be a bit disappointed with what greets you. Due to safety regulations imposed by the FIA for most purpose-built Formula One venues, run off areas are large and heavy duty catch fencing is employed around the majority of the circuit. This results in spectator areas being a significant distance from the track, often with a mesh obstruction between you and the subject. Fear not, there is still hope, there are numerous opportunities for photography around current F1 circuits and perhaps more creative options available because you need to work a bit harder.
- Get the end of your lens as close to the fence as possible, remaining safe behind the rail. If you do stray into unauthorized areas and a marshal gives you an earful you need to remember they are looking out for your safety and should, once again, be treated with respect.
- Use the widest aperture you can i.e. f/2.8, f/4 or f/5.6 (get yourself a quality 3-4 stop ND filter to allow you to use larger apertures on bright days while keeping the shutter speeds down to enable you to capture some movement).
- Avoid thick mesh and supports, this technique works best on uniform areas of thin wire and/or large apertures (gaps).
- Avoid sections of fence with a lot of reflections in bright sunshine. Look for sections in the shade or alternatively, position yourself somewhere on the circuit where the sun won’t interfere as much.
- If your section of fence has large openings or improvised holes, align your lens with said opening for high shutter speeds or when panning, time your shutter release to coincide with the gap.
- Always shoot perpendicular to the fence. If you release the shutter at anything other than at right angles you are going to be shooting through more metal than necessary. This will increase the likely hood of producing a grey sheen on your images.