One of the things I love about photography is how compartmentalised and yet expansive it can be. You can focus on a particular aspect of photography for your entire shooting career, or alternatively you can expand your interest into so many genres or subsections that you will never run out of things to learn. After my trip to Le Mans last year I found that I had developed an appetite for both endurance racing and motorsport photography; when the chance came to hook up with the same group of friends and catch the Six Hours of Silverstone I jumped at it.
I went with a different mindset this time, newly emboldened by my relative success in France and with a better understanding of what’s usually possible at a racetrack. Silverstone offers a remarkable level of access to the spectator, you can walk around the full extent of the course both inside and out. This access is however somewhat compromised by catch-fencing. While the view from most of the grandstands is unhindered, that of the trackside photographer, (the ones on the wrong side of the fence at least), are framed through chainlink.
In motorsport photography you can make a certain amount of your own luck. Knowing enough about your subject, (an area I fall down on with regard WEC), having the right equipment, and taking a methodical approach are all things one can do to improve one’s chances. Eventually you have acknowledge that the luck you can’t make plays a part too.
Things happen so fast on the racetrack that you have to be pointing at them as they happen. If you aren’t then it’s over by the time you get your camera on to it. The header image for this post is one of my favourites from the weekend. It came early on the Friday during practice and is a perfect example of the factors listed above. We found an area where we could see over the fencing to a stretch of track with an uncluttered but pleasingly blurrable background. After some practicing pans, I’d made as much luck as I was able. I took photos of a fair few cars from this vantage before some unspent fuel from the slowing Aston caught fire in its exhaust adding something special to this particular photo.
Likewise, on the final day under a yellow flag, Rene Rast brought the G-Drive Oreca onto the grass directly in front of me for a minute or so before heading off at full power. Again, this was a chance one couldn’t manufacture.
I did manage to find an area where I could get close enough to the fence to negate its effect upon the image. Being on the same level as the cars did make for a better if still uninspiring image of round three of the Carrera Cup.
I had not caught the news of the Audi No. 7 disqualification by the time I gleefully published this photo of the two cars, in first and second place respectively.
Having your camera aimed at the track for so much of the time produces a lot of photographs. While I was able to find and complete the post-production on many of my favourites either during the race weekend or the days immediately afterwards. It did take a long time to go through them all, and even longer to get around to writing this post.
I have had mixed feelings about my scattershot approach to photography for a while. I enjoy trying new things but I’m aware that a refusal to focus has probably been detrimental to my practice. I remain however, photography’s devoted servant.