Im lucky enough to have some of the best kit now, but i started out with a Nikon D80, Nikon 18-70mm & Nikon 70-300mm at my first festival of speed. That is similar to the Nikon D5100 in todays camera, realistically the D5100 is probably better than the D80 was, but i am not here to get all technical.
If you have 2 cameras or can borrow a second one from a friend then you can have the wide lens on one camera body and the long lens on the second camera body. This saves time having to change lenses and missing the shot.
Use something like an 18-55mm or 18-70mm for wide shots of the static cars and overview shots/wide shots of the event.
Long Lens (Telephoto)
Use something like an 70-200mm or 300mm/400mm to get closer to the action and zoom right in on the cars or drivers. These Lenses can be expensive and out of many peoples reach, Yes! even pro photographers, so we hire them instead of buying them.
Macro Lens (Detail)
Use something like a 50mm which is very affordable or a 105mm macro. Great for close up shots of the details like logos, badges etc. Be careful when using these as you get very close to the cars and they are extremely expensive. One little slip and you could dent or scratch them.
Nowadays you can hire a camera and lens at very affordable rates online. From just £10 per day upwards depending on the kit you hire, you could hire a camera and lens for the Festival Of Speed weekend for £200 upwards. If you have a camera you could just hire a longer lens that fits it to help you get closer to the action.
If you hire cameras or lens make sure it is compatible with what you have. If your unsure ask the experts at the hire company and maybe get it a day early so you can test it and learn how to use it.
Ideally take a proper camera bag as it will protect all your lenses etc. I personally am a fan of Lowepro Bags but I also have some from Kata, either way choose one thats suits your needs or try them out in the shop.
A lot of people say take a tripod for panning shots of cars(where the car is in focus and the background is blurred lines to give the appearance of speed). This can be a good idea so your not holding a heavy long lens all day. A monopod is less stable but gives you more manoeuvrability and is much lighter to carry.
Tripods are heavy unless you have expensive carbon fibre ones. Also there not practical with lots of people around as you wont have space to put it up or the people either side will be knocking into it and will ruin the shots anyway. The festival is large and there is lots of walking so keep your kit to minimum or you will be struggling with too much weight.
Gather Information and think about what you want to see and the types of photographs you want get before you get to the event.
Get to the festival early as traffic is very busy on all days, plus get to the track early and find a good spot. Try and choose a section of the track with a good view point so you have time to shoot. This also gives you a chance to do a few test shots and set up your camera.
Get a map of the course and a radio ear piece as it tells when the next batch/car/driver is coming up the hill, if the any accidents it will tell you the delay time etc, its a great source of information(worth the small amount).
Festival Of Speed Photography Tips Map Click Here
At the Goodwood Festival Of Speed there are lots things going on so its unlikely you will find a clean backdrop for a shot. But try to avoid spots with big distractions in the background eg. A bright orange marshall, thats bad!
Shooting your images in Raw format is better as it leaves the image uncompressed so you can make more alterations to it for a better final image. But remember the down side to Raw is the file size is much larger. Shooting cars is harsh on memory cards and will fill them very fast if you shoot Raw. Jpegs are smaller so you can shoot more photos per memory card. Which ever you choose, take lots of memory cards. Also try to use faster cards or you can get a delay from shooting the image to it saving on the memory card if you shoot multiple photos in a short space of time.
English weather is unpredictable so try to prepare for rain and sunshine.
Shooting in the rain means your kit will get wet or you may slip and drop it in the mud. Take plenty of dry lens cloths to clean the rain of the lens and keep the lens pointing down until the car comes to keep it dry for as long as possible.
Shooting in bright sunshine can also be tricky to as you can get lots of glare off the cars or advertising boards in the background which can overexpose(too bright or completely white) part of the photo. A good way to help reduce this problem is to have a polarising filter. (Like sun glasses for you camera)
The cars are going to come past very fast so a High/Fast Shutter speed will be needed if you want the car to be sharp. The more you slow your shutter speed the more motion blur you will get. But go too slow on the shutter speed and you will have a blurry mess. So have a practice on some of the slower cars. Remember that the faster cars like the F1 and Rally cars come through much faster than normal cars. Most cars go up 2 times a day so if you don’t get it right the first time you will have a second chance.
Put your camera into Shutter Priority Mode, set a high shutter speed eg 1/1000th sec and let the camera choose the aperture for you. Then change the shutter as you need you for the desired effect.
Faster shutter = sharper
Slower shutter = more blur
If you point your camera at a piece of track, look through the view finder and press the button when you see the car I guarantee you will completely miss the shot. Panning is the best way to get the car in the frame. Set your camera to continuous focus. Follow the car from when it comes in sight all the way to where you want to shoot it holding the shutter release button half pressed so the camera is always focused on the car. Keep your feet still and twist your top half with the camera. If you miss the car (it will happen) try putting your camera into continuous (burst) shooting mode so it takes more than one photo. It will keep taking photos until you release the shutter button. This can be helpful but means you can fill up memory cards fast. Try to get as tight as possible so the car nearly fills the frame. If you are finding this hard and are cutting the nose or tail off the car, try zooming out just fraction and crop the photo later.
This shoot was one of my first attempts. Good points – It has motion blur, sharpness on the car and it is fairly well exposed. Bad points – It has bright orange marshall’s in the background but you cant always avoid this as there are lots of them. The car is not framed very well and so there is lots of wasted space top and right of the car.
Black and white is great for photos of old cars as it gives a sense of age to the shot, I love this shot of Sir Sterling Moss from 2014.
Move your focus point from the centre towards where the back of the car will be so your shooting with the car chasing you and not always trying to catch it.
If the car is passing from your left to your right. Move the focus point to the left.
If the car is passing from your right to your left. Move the focus point to the right.
Goodwood House is a great spot to photograph from as lots of drivers stop to show off to the crowds. Burnouts, donuts and stunts are common here. Ideally be opposite Goodwood House looks best with the house in the background with the crowds and the stunts in the foreground. This is a very busy spot so get there early.
Top Paddock is right at the top of the hill(a good 30 minute walk maybe more) is another great spot to photograph from as lots of drivers show off to the crowds. Burnouts, donuts etc are common here. This is busy spot and along way from the main arena so get there early. There is a trailer transport service to the top but queues are long at peak times. I normally walk it in 30-40 mins but stop at locations on the way up or down.
Forest Rally Stage is also great to watch as the cars get sideways and spread mud or gravel everywhere. Also there is a jump hidden in the woods which makes for a great airborne shot.
If you would like more Goodwood Festival Of Speed Photography Tips or advice on photographing Motorsport & Cars please get in touch via my Facebook Page.
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