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Author Topic: F1 Photography Advice  (Read 21663 times)

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2013, 11:11:06 AM »
Just wondering if anyone had any additional thoughts in relation to lenses for night time F1 races?  Singapore looks like a lot of fun.

Well, I don't know about the light level but it needs to be good enough for broadcast cameras. However, I feel that the artificial lighting provides much nicer light than the usual mid-day sun of the F1 race. My opinion is that usually, the best light is during the testing and qualifiying outings.

might be an amateur, but I love the pics great job, I'm sure the OP will get some good ones as well,,I wish I was going.  And food for you at planing ahead of time.

Thanks, and I also hope the OP gets some good shots and enjoys the race!  By the way, other posters provided some pretty nice shots, congratulations.

Which brings me to realize that, when I look at my pictures from Montreal GPs, I always think I should have taken a lot more pictures of details and of the ambiance. I ended up with thousands of car images from two or three different vantage points, but only a few general shots. Use your camera between races to capture the ambience!

Finally, don't forget that supporting races provide good opportunities of finding good viewpoints and of getting some practice shots. I often find that cars of lesser classes have a lot of attitude and are quite photogenic!
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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2013, 11:11:06 AM »

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2013, 12:19:47 PM »
Am I the only one that clicked on the Subject line on the front page thinking this was going to be about an old Canon F1 35mm camera?      ;D

No, there is at least one more of us.   ;D
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TowcesterNews

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2013, 12:43:30 PM »
You should be ok with a 70-200 - I used a 70-200 2.8 with 2x at the British Grand Prix - pictures taken as a spectator not trackside - and they are fine (well they were useable).

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2013, 01:44:09 PM »
My F1 photography advice is that take pics of grid girls. We've all seen the cars from all kinds of angles already. From my own F1 pictures I like the grid girl pics the most.

I don't know Dick, but in looking back at my pictures, the man has a point.





« Last Edit: November 12, 2013, 02:36:02 PM by Lloyd »
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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2013, 02:27:17 PM »
Thanks for the responses guys, and there's some really nice photos here. Think I will sell on the 55-250 and start saving for the 70-200. I would think it should be sharp enough to crop in if necessary.  I'll do my best to get there as early as possible and have a scout around.

One last thing, would the 28-135 (there's a chance I might be able to borrow a 24-105L) be wide enough to use as a walk around or would I be better looking at something like the 15-85?

Thanks again.

DigitalDivide

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2013, 04:10:13 PM »
As a long time F1 fan and occasional race antendee, I agree with a lot of the points that have been made.  I think the most important one is to enjoy the race first and worry about photographing it second, especially if it is your first race.  Soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the astonishing, visceral sound the engines make.  My wife still talks about the first time she heard an F1 engine fire up, which happened when we were a couple blocks away from the Indianapolis circuit - normally she has little interest in cars, but that really got her attention!

The pit straight location will be good for shots of the start, finish (especially if Vettel ignores the officials and does a few donuts!), and pit stops.  Malaysia is a modern track and is very wide, with large runoff areas.  Getting close to the action will probably be difficult, so a lens with reach is likely to be a good idea.  That will be especially true of the pit stops, where you want to zoom in on the action.  F1 pit stops are crazy fast, often around 2.5 seconds, and it is just amazing to watch 15 or more crew swarm around the car in a carefully choreographed dance of pinpoint precision.  You'll have to be quick to catch it though. 

After my couple of F1 races I realized that the best place to watch is in the braking zone at the end of one of the really long straights.  F1 cars can slow from 200 to 50 mph in just a few yards, and if you get it right you can get great shots of the front brake discs glowing red inside the wheels as they approach the corner (the discs are carbon, and it takes a lot of heat to do that...).  This is also where most of the passing moves are completed, as a few others mentioned, so you can get shots of the cars fighting for the racing line.  Collisions tend to be the rule rather than the exception on the first lap.

If your race day seats are already set, you may still be able to get some good photos from the braking zone.  I'm not sure if it is the same at all the tracks, but sometimes there are no assigned seats on practice and qualifying days which means you can scoop a prime position if you get there early.  Use the practice sessions to scope out different locations and find one that works best for you, then occupy it during qualifying if you can.  The qualifying laps are the most extreme since the drivers have only one or two chances to get the perfect lap, and they are pushing everything to the limit.  Although they won't be aggressively passing other cars,  you can definitely tell the difference between a race lap and a qualifying lap.  And with the freedom to change seats, you should be able to find a place with a decent, unobstructed view.  Malaysia doesn't have the huge crowds and rabid fans that you see at Monza or Silverstone, which should make things a bit easier.

So from what you said about your trip, I think you'll get the best shots of the cars during practice and qualifying, and on race day you can focus on just grabbing a few photos of the start, finish and pit stops and spend most of the time enjoying the race.  Do scope out the podium location well in advance - it is not always obvious where to go at the end of the race, and if you want good pics of the ceremonies you might need to leave your seat before the race is over.  I've always preferred to see the finish and watch the awards on the big screens, but your preference may be different.

I can't say too much about equipment because I still had my old EOS 10S and a crappy 100-300 zoom when I last attended an F1 race.  My best F1 shots came from my first race, which was in Phoenix, and I was at the start/finish.  Back then the stand actually overhung the track by a few feet, and during qualifying I could lean over the edge and shoot the cars going past a few yards below.  I was constantly getting hit by pieces of hot rubber coming off the tires!  The coolest pics were shot with a 28mm manually focused to a spot on the track, and panning like mad whenever a car came past.  Most of the time I didn't get the timing right, but when I did I got a really neat effect with different blurring on various parts of the car due to the differential speeds.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) they are now very safety concious, so this sort of thing is no longer possible. :(

Personally I think the panning technique with a slowish shutter speed works best when the cars are in motion, as otherwise it tends to look like they were parked on the track.  But unless you can get relatively close when the crowds are smaller prior to race day, I'm not sure it will be very effective.  With the exception of the above Phoenix experience, my successul panning shots have all come from lesser race series like Japan F4 or were taken at private club track days, at small tracks where it is easier to get close.  There is no substitute for having your gear with you when you volunteer as a corner worker, but sadly the FIA doesn't think I am qualified to marshall an F1 race. :) ::)

CarlTN

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2013, 04:52:37 PM »
Hi, first post in here but I felt compelled to answer because I've had similar experience researching tips and lenses for F1 photography.

I have been lucky enough to go to Montreal F1 GP three times in the past and gave a shot at photographing from the stands at the end of the start/finish straight. The first two years, I used a rebel XSI and non-L 70-300 IS USM and had real difficulty focusing on the cars and to be honest, reach was also a bit short.

Last June, I had upgraded to a 60D and rented a 100-400 L. That was worlds apart from my previous experience and I finally had a few good(ish) pictures. The problem was not the equipment anymore.

From my experience, the lens speed is not that important since I found it nice to try slow shutter speeds and panning to provide a sense of speed in my images.

However, I found that hitting focus was relatively hard because of the car's speed (and of all those high contrast publicities all over the place).

I've not been to Malaysia, but the circuit seems to require at least as much reach as for Montreal so my feeling is that 200mm is too short for shooting from the stands.

However, to illustrate the fact that I am only an amateur, here are a few random pics from this year race.

And one final suggestion, don't do as I did the first time and don't forget to enjoy the race (lucky you)...

Nice shot!!!

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2013, 04:52:37 PM »

CarlTN

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2013, 04:53:47 PM »
I went to the Austin F1 race last year and was sitting in a grandstand at the end of a long straight.  I took a lot of pictures which can be found at http://www.pbase.com/lebthree/f1_austin .  Most of these are heavily cropped and I pretty much loaded all but the God awful up on pbase so it should give you a good idea of what worked and what didn’t.  As I recall, I was using my 70-200 2.8 for most of these.   It also appears that I took most of them at f/4.  I also used my 1.4 extender on a few.  Therefore, your lens selection may work out great.

Depending on your seat, you may find it difficult to take pictures from the grandstand during the race as people will often be standing up at the critical moments.  This is especially true at the start.  Also, unless you are very high in the stands, you are likely to be shooting through fencing.  My better pictures were taken on the practice and qualifying days as there were fewer people and you could move around to various locations.  I don’t know what mobility, if any, you will have at the Malaysian GP on practice and qualifying days.  As you noted, the main straight may allow you to get pit action during the race which might necessitate a longer lens.  However, negotiating it in a large crowd may be a problem. 

I would also suggest that you make sure that the venue allows you to bring your camera gear in as many do not allow “professional” camera equipment into the facility.  They have such a limitation in Austin, but they did not appear to enforce it too strictly.  However, I would hate to show up with a 400/2.8 or 500mm+ without knowing for certain that I could get such a beast in the gate.  Each facility may be different and what they say on their web site may not measure up to reality at the gate. 

The most important thing to bring is ear protection.  The sound is painfully loud and you will suffer hearing damage if you expose yourself to this for any extended period of time.  In Austin, the sound is magnified in the main straight as it is a canyon between large grandstands on each side.   

Walk around a bit before the race with a good walk around lens.  Some of the people attending the race are a spectacle in themselves.  The crowds, fences and limitations on movement on race day make photographing the race action very problematic.  If you have a press-pass with access to the areas with holes in the fences or scaffolding to shoot from, that is a different matter.  For everyone else, my thoughts on race day are to bring what you have, take a few shots and enjoy the experience.

Excellent advice, and excellent pictures!  Great job of posting so many on pbase.  I hope to see the Austin race sometime, and also the "Jersey" race if it happens.

CarlTN

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2013, 05:10:55 PM »
Hi folks.

I'll be going to the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix next year and i'm looking for some advice on what kit would be best to take.  I have grandstand tickets on the pit straight for all three days and also might get pit lane access probably on the practice day through a friend who works for one of the teams.

I currently have an Eos 50D, Canon 50mm 1.8, Canon 28-135, and Canon 55-250.  I have been considering selling the 55-250 and getting a 70-200 F4.  Would this be a good idea or would the extra reach of the 55-250 be more useful.

Thanks

Excellent Thread !!!

I've not been to one of these yet, but I would heavily suggest renting a 1DX or even better, a 1D4, along with a 70-300L.  The suggestions about a 70-200 f/2.8 are quite unnecessary, especially when using a 1.4x TC.  The 100-400 would be far better than that (400 is way more reach than 280mm).  But I feel that overall, if you can get in a good position for shooting...a 70-300L should more than suffice (especially on the 1D4, or any other crop format camera...the 1D4 gives you a pro body and 10fps).  If you can only get a far distance away, then consider renting a big lens.  If you really are resistant to renting the nicer gear, then I agree with all who have suggested 200mm is not enough.

And maybe most important of all (besides bringing good earplugs), would be...PREPARE TO TAKE QUITE A BIT OF VIDEO FOOTAGE along with the stills.  This is one time where still pictures can only do so much justice to a sport!  Either bring a dedicated video camera, or else if you wind up with a DSLR that does video, practice with it a lot before-hand.  Best of all would be if your companion can do either video or stills...where you can switch out with him/her, so that you both get to enjoy taking both video and stills at the same time.

One thing that is both a plus and a minus (you may know this already):  2014 sees all new smaller V6 engines and chassis, with state of the art turbo charging that is all combined with electric motor assist/batteries (I don't like this part)...but it's possible the cars might be a bit quieter than the current V8's.  Obviously they won't be as quiet as normal "turbo" cars can be.

I have recorded every race broadcast for the last 4 years, and can never get enough!  All other racing other than Le Mans series (and occasionally WRC), pales in comparison for me...especially "indycar"...what a watered down version of racing!   
« Last Edit: November 12, 2013, 05:15:08 PM by CarlTN »

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2013, 02:19:54 AM »
I would heavily suggest renting a 1DX or even better, a 1D4, along with a 70-300L... 

It pays to check the conditions of entry before going down that path as quite often there are restrictions on the allowable equipment.  At Melbourne the strict rules are that there is no professional equipment allowed and that includes bodies, L type lenses (especially 300mm and over), monopods/tripods etc.  While they are still written in the terms and conditions (and I've known of a few people being turned away over the years), they have relaxed a bit on the gates but not completely.
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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2013, 01:10:06 PM »
Thanks for the responses guys, and there's some really nice photos here. Think I will sell on the 55-250 and start saving for the 70-200. I would think it should be sharp enough to crop in if necessary.  I'll do my best to get there as early as possible and have a scout around.

One last thing, would the 28-135 (there's a chance I might be able to borrow a 24-105L) be wide enough to use as a walk around or would I be better looking at something like the 15-85?

Thanks again.

Good, but I should say that cropping is only part of the solution. If you are too far away, the focusing will be much harder because of the small size of the subject. With my 70-300mm, I found that focus often was on the contrasty advertising found in the background rather than on the drivers head. The autofocus will always go for the highest contrast object so the more there is under the AF point, the harder it gets to ensure the AF goes for what you want.

I should add that the pictures I posted were cropped by at least 20% despite having a 400mm lens. Mind that they were cropped because I only used the center AF point which kind of screws up the composition but is much more effective. Therefore, the cropping was more to help with the composition than because of the lack of reach.

As for the 28-135mm as a walkaround lens, I found that I ended up trying to capture the ambiance with the telephoto since there was a bit of a crowd and changing lens was not so easy due to the proximity with the rest of the audience. Nevertheless, I found it nice to have my Sigma 8-16mm for really wide shots. If the circuit and its premises are anything like in Montreal, it is quite vast and you need some wide lens to really capture the extent.

Here are a few "atmosphere" pics from this year's race. For the shot at 8mm, I was just under the stands in order to be able to capture all of this and on the higher res image, you can (barely) see the cars preparing on the grid. The other two are from the stand where I was seated (12).
« Last Edit: November 13, 2013, 01:18:05 PM by IMG_0001 »
What a mess, my camera's sensor is full of massless particules that keep on trying to behave like waves!

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2013, 10:40:27 AM »
...
One last thing, would the 28-135 (there's a chance I might be able to borrow a 24-105L) be wide enough to use as a walk around or would I be better looking at something like the 15-85?
...

Yes, thats me again!

If I may add to my previous post, I've had a look at your post hiistory and saw that you have been longing for a wider lens for a while don't you? I also saw that you were not afraid of third party lenses. As a result, I will say that I find my Tamron 17-50 F2.8 (Non-VC) to be very good for the price. So if like me you prefer a wider aperture to more zoom range, this lens is a good bet, but it concedes a lot in the long end.

I've only seen good comments on Canon's 15-85 (apart from the price which seems steep to me) so I doubt you'd find yourself flawed if you bought it.
What a mess, my camera's sensor is full of massless particules that keep on trying to behave like waves!

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2013, 02:09:27 PM »
...
One last thing, would the 28-135 (there's a chance I might be able to borrow a 24-105L) be wide enough to use as a walk around or would I be better looking at something like the 15-85?
...

Yes, thats me again!

If I may add to my previous post, I've had a look at your post hiistory and saw that you have been longing for a wider lens for a while don't you? I also saw that you were not afraid of third party lenses. As a result, I will say that I find my Tamron 17-50 F2.8 (Non-VC) to be very good for the price. So if like me you prefer a wider aperture to more zoom range, this lens is a good bet, but it concedes a lot in the long end.

I've only seen good comments on Canon's 15-85 (apart from the price which seems steep to me) so I doubt you'd find yourself flawed if you bought it.
Ho, the 15-85 is a great lens. It's  more or less an L-quality lens, lacking the weather sealing and the red ring.

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2013, 02:09:27 PM »

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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #28 on: November 17, 2013, 01:36:27 PM »
Thanks for the responses guys, and there's some really nice photos here. Think I will sell on the 55-250 and start saving for the 70-200. I would think it should be sharp enough to crop in if necessary.  I'll do my best to get there as early as possible and have a scout around.

One last thing, would the 28-135 (there's a chance I might be able to borrow a 24-105L) be wide enough to use as a walk around or would I be better looking at something like the 15-85?

Thanks again.

I’m a massive F1 fan, I work as a volunteer on a JCB in Abu Dhabi on turn 7 (the JCB with the Scotland flag every year) and I’m also quite new to photography, I have the 150-500 Sigma and I use a 550D, I was lucky enough to go to Monaco this year and use my Sigma, I’ve added a couple of images, they’re good for me and I’m happy with them, I’ll bet that a 70-200mm f2.8 or f4 + 2x convertor will offer superb clarity no matter what variety you buy (f4/f2.8), as everyone loves these particular L series lenses, but you’ll still need to crop your images, all my images are cropped to some extent, I hope this helps mate.  Above all enjoy the race, I’m sitting here waiting for Austin to begin and it’s 10.30pm on a school night!!!  8)
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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2013, 01:49:27 PM »
Sorry, can’t resist posting another couple of pic’s, hope you enjoy!!
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Re: F1 Photography Advice
« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2013, 01:49:27 PM »