SimonArron Platinum

Concentration as an art form

In his final British Superbike Championship meeting before he relocates to the United States, James Ellison balances his Yamaha at the exit of Surtees Bend, Bra...
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In his final British Superbike Championship meeting before he relocates to the United States, James Ellison balances his Yamaha at the exit of Surtees Bend, Brands Hatch, while keeping eyes firmly on his next challenge: Pilgrims Drop. Taken on October 13 2018. Lens: Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6
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Contest Finalist in Moving Fast And Quick Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 38
Peer Award
Magnificent Capture
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Superb Composition
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All Star
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Outstanding Creativity
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Creative Boundaries Photo ContestTop 10 class week 1
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photographyawards2020Top 10 class week 1
Inspired By The World Photo ContestTop 10 class
Inspired By The World Photo ContestTop 10 class week 1
Full Adrenaline Rush Photo ContestTop 10 class
Full Adrenaline Rush Photo ContestTop 10 class week 1
Moving Fast And Quick Photo ContestTop 10 class
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Covers Photo Contest Vol 50Top 20 class
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Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 38Top 10 class
Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 38Top 10 class week 2
Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 38Top 20 class week 1


7 Comments | Report
Daisy00 December 02, 2018
Stunning!! Congrats on your well deserved award!
TimKilbride December 15, 2018
Nailed it!
ChrisParratt January 03, 2019
Cracking shot
DaveKommel PRO+
DaveKommel August 20, 2019
Stunning shot!
chrismercerimages PRO+
chrismercerimages October 02, 2020
Awesome capture!! I think that that is as close to perfection as it is possible to get. Love it.
KevinGPhotography December 02, 2020
Stunning! been to Brands Hatch many times, love it.
dewaynerawlings PRO+
Great shot!

Behind The Lens

Brands Hatch, Kent, UK. From 1964-1986 the circuit was the British Grand Prix's alternate host, but Formula One has not graced the venue since. Probably just as well. As a consequence of becoming the GP's permanent home, Silverstone has been extensively redeveloped and, in the process, has lost much of its soul. Brands has been more sympathetically updated and, in parts, feels like a throwback to the 1970s. This is a good thing. Although F1 has been absent for more than 30 years, Brands Hatch still attracts many top-class events. This was taken during the final round of the 2018 British Superbike Championship.
Fairly early on a bright autumnal morning - just past 10am.
The lighting is wholly natural. Although motor sport photography can be a little frustrating late in the year - by mid-afternoon you often need a lens that a) doesn't exist and b) I couldn't afford even if it did (100-300mm with a constant f1.8 - something like that) - but compensation for the short daylight hours comes in the form of a low sun. This tends to pick out details of the riders' faces, which I quite like.
The shot was taken with a freshly acquired (second-hand) Nikon D800e, plus Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6. Although it's a sizeable lens, I always prefer a hand-held approach when shooting motor sport. I have the unfair advantage of professional accreditation and there isn't always a great deal of room to manoeuvre behind the barriers. I find a monopod gets in the way: I usually know the layout of the tracks I frequent, so can make an informed choice about lenses etc before I travel. As a general rule, I take two bodies and no more than three lenses (short, medium, long) to keep weight down as much as possible. At some UK venues, mind, a 70-200mm is absolutely as long as you need. A short lens is always vital, because I like to produce some shots that provide a sense of location (although this one fails spectacularly in that regard).
Partly the light, partly the knowledge that BSB bikes were likely to lift a front wheel as riders apply full power at this point on the circuit. The shot was taken at the exit of a medium-speed left-hander leading onto a very long straight.
Sorry, the usual dull answer: no. I like to try to get things right with camera settings - though I do have a habit of forgetting that the body is still set to 1/80 after I have been panning for a while. This doesn't help. I did give it a slight crop, but that's all. I am aware that if I spent a bit of time learning Lightroom, I could give my shots a bit more zip.
In my camera bag
See my previous answer in terms of a typical raceday: two bodies and a maximum of three lenses, according to the nature of the venue. My current options include Nikon D800e, D800 (which needs a bit of TLC) and D700 bodies. I know they have all been superseded, but I don't see any point replacing them while I'm still happy with their results. In terms of lenses, I have Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6, Nikkor 300mm f4, Sigma 70-200mm f2.8, Sigma 18-35mm f1.8, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro, Sigma 24-105mm f4 and Nikkor 50mm f1.8 (the cheap, plastic one - which I don't use as often as I should). I also have a hefty Giotto tripod for night work, a budget third-party flash that works remarkably well for the money and a couple of absolutely indispendable Storm Jacket rain covers. Oh, and a set of Cokin Z filters.
The only thing I can advise is that you practise as much as possible. Although debris fencing compromises photography from public areas at many racing venues, in the UK there are still some that aren't surrounded by mesh. Lydden Hill, near Dover, is one example, ditto Mallory Park (Hinckley) and Cadwell Park (Louth). And I'll repeat my point about shorter lenses: don't just take shots in which the car or bike fills the frame and could be from almost anywhere; allow your photos to 'breathe' and incorporate elements of the crowd, or the landscape - with a little thought, they can usually embellish the composition (says he, having submitted a photo that doesn't do any of these things)... As a general rule, I always study the background before settling on a location. In this instance there is little of ireal nterest, but it is nice and clean (with no stray bits of building or similar to distract the eye).

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