Posts Tagged ‘bhr’

When not on a commissioned job, or working in the studio and I actually have a weekend free I like to take a look at local motor racing circuits and see whats on. Usually there’s nothing of interest happening or the wife has something organised for us. Last weekend however my Saturday was free, yes totally free and with the VMCC holding one of their racing events at my local circuit Cadwell Park I was on my way.

I love Cadwell Park as the place is quite simply a superb circuit, non of the flat round and round places that are all too common these days. Full of hills and sweeping bends with the infamous mountain it ticks all the boxes for spectators and photographers alike. The VMCC events are totally open so you can have a good, unrestricted wander around looking at the machinery on show. The facilities are good, there’s always a burger van there for lunch and coffee which is reasonably priced and finally the toilets are clean and functional. There is a hospitality building, if that’s your Raceday thing, excellent access to a good 80% of the racing with just one small strip inaccessible. Official photography is exclusive to one chap, which I find odd for such a big place. Access to the prime spots is therefore a non starter, though there are plenty of places you can stand if the crowds aren’t too big. A nice 200-400 zoom or fixed 400mm 2.8 would create an even keel though as you could reach across to achieve those angles. Justifying the £8k spend to the wife would be a tad difficult though lol.

I enjoy this racing for two reasons. Firstly I rode motorbikes in my youth having range of Yamaha’s from 350cc through to 750cc over several years. Fabulous carefree times where the adrenaline rush of twisting a throttle and being catapulted down the road made my youthful brain buzz. Living in Germany for three years and having speed limit free autobahns made fun for modding the latter, bigger engined machines, and in the early 90’s and quieter roads having an absolute hoot out there. Secondly I love capturing motorsport and movement. Motorsport, like gymnastics, needs to have a perspective of movement. All of the top publications will show on track imagery with a sense of movement. This will be within the tires and spokes of the vehicles as nothing else really moves. A adjusting settings to continually provide this effect, coupled with some clever planning helps produce some lovely imagery. Doing this consistently to provide a gallery of the days events takes some skill. I see many online images that are simply awful in tat the bike has been shot at such a high speed it simply looks stationary. Not ideal when trying to provide that sense of movement.

I was actually approached by a group of men, from a local amateur photography club, who stated they were struggling with aperture speeds around the 1/1000th of a second. They had recognised my “Gear” and labelled me either Semi Pro or Pro so popped over for a chat. Lovely blokes, well mannered and respected the fact I was cracking on capturing the racing. In short they where simply after the fastest shutter speed they could grab to freeze the action. They almost had a seizure when I showed them a shutter speed under 1/250th sec. To put it simply they tried it, failed at the panning and surprisingly went back to high shutter speed, high ISO’s and medium apertures of F4+. Using stock kit lenses didn’t help their cause on flexibility but with the day being clear and bright they could easily capture imagery like mine with a bit of effort. Even under 1/250th and an ISO 100 gave me apertures of between f.35 – f11 through the day. Anyway they stayed at their super speed options as I came across them again when I moved to the chicane. Blasting away on high speed shutter with high speed apertures and ISO’s it was like they were shooting some rare, single moment, wildlife rather than repetitive circuit racing. Oh well.

All in all I had a fabulous day. The smell of 2 stroke oil in the air, rasping engines all blessed with some bright dry weather made things great. From traditional motorcycles to scooters, sidecars and the odd rare one off’s that survive into today an excellent day out for any petrolhead. A plus point, for me anyway, being that a few riders came to me for business cards made things worthwhile.

A couple of images from the day now follow. To see the entire days images see here 2017 VMCC Cadwell Park

A Norton, I believe..


These sidecar guys are brave or a little unhinged or potentially both.

bike 2

A BSA Bantam in full flow.

bike 3

Equipment wise all images were captured using a Canon 5Diii with Canon 70-200mm IS ii zoom. Settings varied owing to location and light available but nothing shot over 1/250th sec thus portraying the speed involved.

Oh for one of those magic Media Passes to reach the prime shooting points 😂

My third year now to watch and cover the British Historic Racing Series along with the VMCC Ltd. This all started in 2012 as part of a Uni project showing motion within motorsport. We see all too often the stock image taken in excess of 1/500th of a second which simply makes bikes and cars, on a track, stationary. It was my intention to push the boundaries and see just how slow you could take a shutter speed and still have a usable image. I managed down to 1/80th with some serious panning practice following the bikes as they shot past my position. Many images were simply unusable yet I left with a modest yet usable few hundred images.

The following year, 2013, I simply returned for the fun of it. The whole weekend simple reminded me of my youth, up to my elbows in grease followed by the smell of a 2 stroke engine whirring away as I proudly rode about. The whole meeting is extremely relaxed and friendly. There’s non of the ignorance or shoving found at major motorsport events, the riders are all accessible too and many will happily chat about their race machinery. Having collected another nice set of images and indeed taken specifically requested images for a couple of racers I decided to return this year.

This year was rather strange. As I set up on my usual corner a couple of riders nodded to me as they rode past in free practice. I’m then visited by riders asking for my website name and when will my images be up and ready for sale. Everyone is like, hey good to see you again and glad your back. The glad to see me reference is clearly directed at my quality images opposed to the official photographers somewhat mediocre stuff. You see him pottering about all day, trying to look important, yet not taking many images. A ‘Pro’ who was there covering for certain magazines stopped for a chat when he saw me and was extremely pleasant and complimentary about my imagery quality and consistency. Sadly he had a slight reach advantage over me with his 1DX and 400mm f/2.8 thus giving him far more flexibility around the circuit for imagery and his access all areas also gave hime some exclusive positioning for the mountain section. Sadly this area is double fenced from the spectator side and negates the ultimate airborne image over the brow of the hill. Oh well something to potentially go for in the future.

I decided to make the galleries live after the website requests and have so far had several hits along with a few sales from what is essentially the hobby side of my work. This is now something that in 2016 I will be attending more, amateur/club racing, on any weekend I have off. Going by the diary so far this won’t be too many but I know the ones I do attend will be fun.

Regarding my excellent consistency and quality mentioned by the fellow Pro here is a screen shot of the gallery. Literally 1400 images on the same bend, over 2 days, involving every competitor at least twice with some several times. The processing is no hassle with actions set up to bulk process once I’ve corrected lens distortion and tweaked the odd setting. Some don’t make the grade as I still enjoy getting creative with shutter speeds and whilst these may look ‘arty’ they would be unlikely to sell.

BHR VMCC Gallery Image