Where to take the best motorsport photos at Silverstone

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Our resident Silverstone expert Jonny Henchman tells us about the best vantage points for taking photos at the home of the British Grand Prix.

All photos by Jonny Henchman / Fireproof Creative. Follow on Instagram, Twitter or Flickr.

Silverstone is the UK’s premier racing circuit. Having grown up on its doorstep I’m a little biased, but it’s also my favorite. Currently, it’s the only place you can see top flight racing series like F1, MotoGP and the World Endurance championship in the UK. I’ve been watching cars and bikes blast around Silverstone for more than 25 years and 15 of them have been spent with some sort of camera, so I like to think I know my way around when it comes to photography.

BE PREPARED

As most of you will no doubt know, the British weather is pretty unreliable to say the least. A decent set of waterproofs (both top and bottom) as well as a pair of sturdy walking boots can make for a drier, if not comfortable experience. Don’t forget protection for your camera, purpose made rain covers are a necessity, with even cheap disposable ones having served me very well in the past. The rain can make for some of the most dramatic shots and tends to be worth suffering for. Be aware that Silverstone is flat and quite open, so standing on a raised bank in a thunderstorm is best avoided.

THE FOLLOWING SILVERSTONE GRANDSTANDS OFFER UNOBSTRUCTED VIEWS OF THE CIRCUIT

  • Large sections of the International pit straight
  • Farm outfield, there is a corporate stand on the inside of Farm as well, this is usually locked or reserved for sponsor usage at bigger events.
  • Village, although the direction of cars/bikes here is generally away from you unless you are positioned very far left to view Aintree & the entry to Wellington straight
  • Large sections of Woodcote and National Pit Straight
  • Maggots and Becketts
  • Hangar Straight on the infield, there is a small stand here but be aware this is generally unavailable at events where center access is restricted.
  • Club Corner, covered and uncovered stands

SILVERSTONE GENERAL ADMISSION AREAS WHERE YOU CAN SEE OVER THE CATCH FENCING

  • The south banks of the bridge crossing Wellington Straight.
  • Sections of Luffield terrace, with the better options at the opposite end to the national straight.
  • The exit of Copse Corner on the outside of the circuit, at the very top of the terraces (you’ll need a step or have to balance on the hand rails here).
  • The inside north bank of the bridge on Hangar straight, not always accessible
  • The bank on the inside of the circuit at Vale, not always accessible
  • An area of waist high fencing between the open grandstand at club and the disabled viewing stand at Vale (this is a favourite camping spot for photographers, often pitched up for hours preciously guarding their space – its fence free but in all honesty, quite a dull angle)
  • You can also shoot over the start/finish line from the viewing terrace at the south end of the Wing Complex. There is also a view at the north end too, but the angles are tight and they come at you blind.

Avoid the crowds!

There are a number of sections around Silverstone where most of the pros won’t shoot because there is no track-side access and no photo holes, so shooting through the fence can give you some exclusivity in this regard. Wherever you stand you are likely to find you are not alone for long as photographers seem to be magnetically attracted to one another, thinking ‘if they are shooting there, then there must be something to see’, break this cycle and avoid other photographers to help bring some extra variety to your images and keep moving around.

Ready Jonny’s series on “How to take awesome F1 photos”

Part 1: Equipment

Part 2: Getting the shot

Part 3: Capturing motion

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About the Author ()

Jonny Henchman is a Northampton based 35 year old graphic designer and motorsport photographer working under the name Fireproof Creative. Starting out more than 15 years ago as an enthusiastic camera toting spectator with a love of cars, he has since gained regular professional media accreditation for numerous different championship racing series including the FIA World Endurance Championship, British GT, International GT Open and the Race of Champions, in association with the Canadian motorsport picture agency, Flag World. His prize winning images have been featured in a number of international photography publications including Digital Photographer and Photo Plus magazine.

Comments (2)

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  1. Bartek says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for this guide. I am going to watch F1 this Sunday at Silverstone for the first time. I like to take motorsport photos but still need a lot of practise. And because of this I would like to ask you some questions:

    1. Which place would be the best for the beginner at F1 race to try to take some photos? After some reading I think about Luffield/Brooklands or Chapel? I have got general admission ticket.

    2. I am 172 cm (5ft7) tall and how big folding stool would be enough for me to see over the fence? Step ladders are not allowed but I think stool would be ok.

    3. How early should I be there to have a chance to reserve a good place? Is it possible to change place during the race or is better to choose one and stay there for the whole race? General admission ticket allow me to move alongside the track.

    4. What metering mode is the best for motorsport? I usually use spot or center-weighted average.

    5. I still struggle with panning technique. What range of shutter speed I should try at F1? At rallies and speedway I try between 1/60-1/125.

    My camera: Pentax K-70 with 55-300mm lens (f4-5.8)

    I will be very grateful if you can give me some advice and answer for my questions. Hope it is not a big problem for you.

  2. Hi There, I wrote the original guide so I can offer a few pointers…

    1. It depends a bit on the equipment but with what you have, Brooklands and Luffield is a good bet – you’ll need to familiarise yourself with shooting through the fence.

    2. A folding stool is usually allowed – sometimes security can get a bit funny, you’ll only really need it if the hoardings are placed in front of the Armco at Luffield but generally, you shouldn’t have an issue without the stool – just make sure you get to the front early.

    3. I’d say Friday and Saturday are best for photos and move around a lot – Sunday, if you want a good spot for the race you’re going to need to go very early and stay in one place – people will camp out and reserve all the best spots at the crack of dawn when gates open.

    4. Whichever gives you the best most reliable results – but never spot, white cars will throw it all out.

    5. Start high and work down, if you’re not confident you’re getting sharp images at 1/200 go higher and vice versa as you get more confident – 1/100 is good but if it’s new to you it still might be too challenging.

    Most of all though, enjoy the racing – have a great weekend :)

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