Behind the Fence – Capturing the World of Motorsports Page Four
Throughout my participation with f8 and in covering the HMSA events, I came away from the experience acknowledging things I knew as well as learning several others. A few of the key ones are:
Composition – A race car and its speed on the track are better represented if there is something in the foreground or background to compliment and capture it.
Give Yourself Room – Look for a spot where you can properly pan and set yourself up to have some good angles to capture the cars on the track.
Move – Walk the track. Look at all the possible places you can get a good field of view. Get the shots you need from that location and move to another.
Experiment – Don’t be afraid to go from Manual to Shutter Priority, from 1/1000 to 1/30. Wide angle shot, narrow depth of field shot…drop a few shots and see what comes up. If you don’t like what you see, just move along to the next shot.
Practice – This one is a no-brainer. Practice everything from the camera settings, how you stand, loading media cards and batteries and holding and panning with your lens. Just like an athlete, you have to keep in form and practice until it’s almost second nature.
Be a Photographer First – If you want to photograph motorsports professionally, it is important to be a photographer first at the track and a fan of the sport, second. There is no middle ground here. As I stated at the beginning of this article, “I had to master my skills in photography and learn how to work at capturing images at a race track”. You have to be at the top of your photographic skills in order to be well prepared to capture the action on the track and focus on the story you want to tell in your images.
Share What You Know – I cannot stress this enough. We all learn from each other and that is what makes us improve upon our own skill set – the old dog teaching the new and vice versa. It helps us validate where we are as photographers and how good we really are at it. Believe it or not, those who have extreme confidence in their skill level don’t have a problem in sharing what they know. We all have a distinct way of seeing the world and visualize things in our own way. So that one trick shot you share, will have a very different look with someone else. This is a philosophy that f8 practices and employs in providing aspiring motorsports photographers with ideas, trends and techniques that are shared and explored.
Put in the Work – If you want to get into motorsports photography, you have to put in the work to get where you want to be as a motorsports photographer; start at the grassroots level; cover local and regional events, car shows and related events, where getting credentials are much easier to obtain. Getting out, networking and establishing yourself is a great path to eventually covering a top-level series.
In summary, 2013 proved to be a great year for my motorsports photography. Although it was a bittersweet one with the loss of my father, Saul Varela, to pancreatic cancer, the year held some very good and memorable moments as well. I had the opportunity to do more of what I loved at a level only a few can do. My participation in the f8 workshop proved to be an excellent experience that strengthened my skill set and knowledge of motorsport photography as well as providing me with the tools and information to build on and succeed in this field of photography. I appreciate the candid, friendly and professional patience of the instructors and would like to thank Dennis, Llew and Jeffrey, for sharing their expertise and knowledge with me and the rest of the f8 participants. I would also like to thank Sports Car Digest’s Publisher, Jamie Doyle, for the opportunity to publish my articles and images here.
I look forward to another great year of photographing fast and beautiful race cars.