The 4 photographic decisions that take this motorsport shot to the next level

Porsche 963
Porsche 963 at Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2022 (Image credit: Phil Hay)

1: Clear composition

The image structure is based on the leading perspective. “I knew I wanted to catch the Porsche 963 in the middle of the image, but it wasn’t easy to find the right spot to achieve this composition,” says Phil. “In the end, I had to climb a tree and so I took this shot from about three metres up, balancing between the trunk and two branches.” Phil did a basic cleanup of distracting elements, such as leaves and marshals in the background, to achieve the high-quality look he was after.

2: Atmospheric light 

A small shaft of light makes its way through the trees and creates a unique mood. The light highlights certain elements of the scene and brings the main subject into focus – the viewer’s attention is successfully drawn to the Porsche car, which shines in the light. To emphasize the overall atmosphere of the shot, Phil took advantage of post-processing. “I applied a high-pass filter under my color correction layer to give the image a satin look,” he says.

3: Vibrant highlights

Specific elements of the scene naturally stand out due to the light coming through the trees. To add a bit more detail, Phil enhanced the light on the leaves across the top of the image to provide more texture and depth. The dark areas surrounding the image create balance and the contrast lets the highlights stand out. “There is a filter around the lower right area of the image to fine-tune it, stretching over to the straw bail on the left,” Phil says.

4: Contrasting colors

The background colors are warm and subdued, making the vibrant red on the car stand out even more. “A lot of the color is natural from the camera. I love Nikon’s native colors,” Phil says. “The color grade over the image is to add some warmth to the highlights and cooler tones to the shadows,” he adds. Phil dropped the exposure slightly to bring back some shape and highlighted the white of the car to present the subject in as much detail as possible.

Tech details

Nikon Z 70-200mm

Camera: Nikon Z7 II

Lens: Nikon Z 70-200mm F2.8 VR S

Aperture: f/3.5      

ISO: 1250      

Shutter speed: 1/800sec

Location: Goodwood Festival of Speed

Phil Hay

North Yorkshire-based automotive and motorsport photographer Phil Hay works with clients from the UK and internationally. As a freelance photographer, he decided to start his own business during the first Covid lockdown and considers himself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to spend time around the most beautiful machines on the planet.

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Kim Bunermann
Technique Editor

Kim is the Technique Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine. She specializes in architecture, still life and product photography and has a Master's degree in Photography and Media with a distinction from the FH Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. While studying, Kim came to the UK for an exchange term at the London College of Communication. She settled in the UK and began her career path by joining Future. Kim focuses on tutorials and creative techniques, and particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring photographers who concentrate on a range of fascinating subjects including women in photography, the climate crisis; the planet, its precious creatures and the environment.

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