These are the settings and techniques I use to shoot motorsport photography

Motorsport photography by Christian Knowles
This capture in wet weather shows how a good panning technique and a fast shutter speed can result in amazing motorsport photography. 1/250 sec, f/9, ISO 640 (Image credit: Christian Knowles)

This image of 2021 MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo was taken in wet conditions, during the third and final practice session before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It shows his commitment and bravery in conditions where the slightest error could have resulted in an accident.

Motorsport is high-speed and high-adrenaline; here are five things to keep in mind to make sure you capture the moment as it speeds by...

Find the right position 

To capture an image like this, you need to be on the inside of a corner as the rider comes towards you. It helps if the light is behind so you can get a better exposure and make sure you have enough space to pan without bumping into objects or people. This image was captured through fencing, but many circuits have vantage points with no visual obstructions. 

Choose a suitable lens

Telephoto lenses are best suited for shooting fast action and the longer the focal range the better. You don’t need expensive primes, though – I use a 150-600mm super-telephoto lens to give me a great range and such lenses are extremely versatile for the price. If your budget won’t stretch this far, then a more affordable 100-400mm zoom will be fine.

Get down low

I find that action images look best when captured from a low angle, so get down as low as you can when working behind a barrier. Try to give your subject space to travel into, as this will make the image more visually pleasing for your audience. It’s not always possible to do this in the field, but you can apply the necessary crop when editing afterwards.

Try these camera settings

Use Continuous autofocus to keep your subject sharp as it travels towards you. For this particular image (above), the exposure was 1/250 sec at f/9, with the ISO range set between 100 and 800. Due to the distance between myself and the subject, the fencing is not visible. Use image stabilization if you wish, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this when shooting at speeds of 1/100 sec or below.

Pan for gold

To pan, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly pointing to your end position. Support the bottom of the lens with your left arm extended as far as possible and be as smooth as you can through the panning movement. You could use a monopod for extra support and balance the lens by placing your hand on the top of the barrel.

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