Five Ways To… take a good photo at Le Mans

Hoyinck Photography

“There’s no such thing as a bad photograph as long as it gets the desired result,” says Frank Hoyinck, a professional racing photographer. We asked Frank to share five tips about taking impressive photos at his favourite race, Le Mans.

  1. Follow the sun.

The circuit is vast and distances to be covered are great. Consequently, it’s of utmost importance to establish a plan of when you want to be where. A golden tip (with some exceptions) is to simply follow the sun, preferably keeping it behind you. Verify all equipment before leaving. 50-cent earplugs are as important as an expensive lens.

  1. Play with the light.

Le Mans takes place during the weekend with the most hours of sunlight. Therefore, having just a few hours to photograph in pitch darkness is a challenge. Capture headlights flashing around areas with enough ambient light (such as the famous carousel) for beautiful and appealing photographs. Try to catch the night-time atmosphere. Everything that’s lit or lights up can help, even the bright glow of brake disks.

  1. Keep the wheels turning!

The creation of motion blur is the ideal technique to give photographs that feeling of speed. Most try to avoid a photo in which it seems like the car is parked. Accordingly, keep the shutter speed as low as possible. This combined with the panning of the object will result in a sharp car with it’s background, such as curbing and the tires and wheels, to be blurred. Release the shutter just when the car is changing direction to add additional “G force”.

A golden tip (with some exceptions) is to simply follow the sun, preferably keeping it behind you.

Frank Hoyinck
  1. Lollypops.

Don’t get in the way! Always keep this in mind. It’s organised chaos; cars approaching from behind, mechanics trashing about, and quick driver changes. When photographing in the pits, the emphasis is on people instead of cars. Each team has its own unique way of doing things, so memorise the sequences so that certain actions may be anticipated in future pitstops allowing for the best moments to be captured. Observe and go with the flow. Motion blur provides the sense of urgency.

  1. Try to be creative.

It’s easy to photograph in an accessible and interesting corner. However, you want to be unique!

Over the years, the circuit has been photographed from every possible location and angle. However, it’s long with fabulous yet less accessible locations that allow for incredible shots. Search for these, capture the door-to-door racing action, vary the shutter speed, the position of the sun and of your camera. There are no mistakes as these are all opportunities to learn, and most importantly, never take yourself too seriously.

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