Somebody once told me that blurring a background doesn’t make a motorsport image. I laughed at that statement. Some of the most inspirational motorsport images I’ve seen have been blurry.
Now I may have taken it out of context; this worldly advice was passed over on the wonder that is Twitter, where context and tone are abandoned to the tune of 144 limiting characters, but it was quite a bold and arrogant claim, especially as the claimant has often demonstrated many background blurs.
But as I have learned during my brief experience of motorsport photography, part of the essence of a decent image is capturing the speed and prowess of the machines that circulate the track.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll probably mention it again as it’s a recurring theme, but a gallery of 30 or so panning images would be a little dull, so you have to mix it up.
Perspective, landscape, portraits, details, speed, power, colour, emotion…the list of potential subjects at a photographers disposal over a race weekend is almost endless.
Variety is the spice, and I hope that’s what the afore mentioned person, who so hypocritically berated a staple of motorsport photography, was trying to refer to within the 144 characters.
Or perhaps not. We may never find out.
Walking around Brands Hatch during another overcast weekend, and that ever imposing challenge of being creative was hitting home again.
Brands is funny track. While it has wonderful contours, hills and dales, trees, bushes and low fences, great access and provides great racing, for the spectator avec camera, it can be pretty monotonous.
Like Silvestone is very grey; Brands Hatch is incredibly green. Hulk style.
There are few vantage points due to those undulations and trees, which add to the photographic challenge. You can’t get up…and likewise you can’t get down either.
Find yourself at the bottom of one of the valley, and you can’t see out and even though the fences are low in places, the racing line of the cars around those portions of the circuit, combined with the position of the spectator areas and walkways, makes for very repetitive images.
Not so cool. So I look for alternatives.
As a spectator, you can’t get anywhere near the paddock or pits to attempt any arty stills, and shooting through the fence is, as we know, always going to be restrictive in certain application.
Concentrating on using those dips and rises to provide depth in my images works – and using the proximity of the track helps to get you closer to the cars. But those GT’s don’t hang about, and panning with them on the back straight is bloody difficult.
Struggling with the light, I can’t slow the camera down enough, or get enough light into the camera to achieve the effects I’m aiming for. At times, it can get annoying, especially if I feel I’m not getting the variety or results I’m wanting to achieve.
As I wander the circuit, searching for that variety, along with the plethora of other photographers, I wonder if they all suffer similar frustrations. Do they fuss over the pesky fence, shutter speed or blurry backgrounds as much as me?
Who knows. I get pretty fussy.
You see this whole deal is all very subjective. My images, your images, all images are all very subjective.
What’s ‘amazing action’ to one may be ‘all blurry’ to the next.
Colours, composure, lighting, subject, all of it comes in for the same scrutiny. With that in mind, I try to remind myself as much as possible that I’m shooting primarily for myself, to my standards and specifications.
If my images press my own buttons, then I’m a happy bunny. If they press others buttons too, that’s a grande bonus.
No, I’m not too bothered if people make daft statements about blurring backgrounds, because I quite like them. I think you have to be a bit more open minded than that.
So please enjoy my gallery from an awesome weekend at Brands Hatch, where the Blancpain GT once again delivered some prime fillet race car action.