Photos with the roar effect – tips from motorsport photographer frits von eldik

Many visitors to motor sport events will be familiar with this image: a lot of track, no car. Or many cars, but also many of them out of focus. Racing cars are naturally fast, and therefore often pass through the frame much faster than some index fingers can press the shutter button on a camera. So that the most beautiful impressions of an exciting race can still reverberate in the picture at home, so that a photo brought back from the track literally reeks of gasoline and clutch, the motorsport photographer frits von eldik gives exclusively for autonatives.A few very useful tips.

Canon ambassador frits van eldik, photo: canon europe

fire hazard

To be able to implement the tips, you have to have enough fuel in your blood of course. For those who lack it, a race car is just another fast car, and the roar of its engine is just a dull noise. If you were to draw blood from the dutchman frits von eldik, there would certainly be a high risk of fire.

because his bolides are divas, his sound is a symphony concert and his race tracks are magical places. He has long been one of the top photographers who have attracted international attention with their very special views of the world. Recently, the well-traveled motorsports photographer was elevated by canon to the status of canon ambassador.

An essential part of the canon ambassador idea is sharing. Like his colleagues, he shares his knowledge in workshops and seminars throughout the year and, to our delight, now also here.


Over the mountain in spa francorchamp. Unusual perspectives give photos the necessary drive: canon EOS-1D mark IV, focal length: 500 mm, exposure: 1/500s at aperture 6.3. Photo: frits van eldik

slalom instead of formula1 – kart track instead of DTM

Very few photographers receive accreditation for a Formula 1 race with free access to the pits and the track. Now you could say that of course only those can take close-up action pictures who are also close-up to the action. On the one hand right, on the other hand not. Frits van eldik’s tips are namely one to one on z.B. The local slalom event, the muddy rally-cross track or to the nearest open-air kart track to transfer. After all, the camera doesn’t care whether a pimped polo, a speeding kart or a screaming ferrari gets in front of its lens. On tempo in the photographic sense, they all come the same way.

Photo: Frits van Eldik

the perfect symmetry conveys calm and concentration. photo: frits van eldik

Vibrating energy

For frits von eldik, capturing the atmosphere, the vibrant energy of a motorsport event is the first step and the best way to a good photo:
the atmosphere at a motor racing event is always fantastic. whatever the weather, the grandstands are filled with motorsport fans who have a passion for racing.

However, one often notices that photos of these events often resemble each other – pictures of the pits, cloudy skies and the beautiful green lawns at the race track. The race track is very spacious, so close-ups of the action are extremely difficult – especially from the perspective of amateur photographers and enthusiasts. what i enjoy most is the change between positions to vary the distance to the action. This is how i capture a large and scenic backdrop alongside the finest details right out of the action.

(canon ambassador frits van eldik)

GP Turkey, Istanbul Park. ©Frits van Eldik

Interesting pictures don’t always have to show the carriages. Here the red bull pit crew at the turkey grand prix prepares for the next action. Camera: canon EOS-1D mark IV, focal length: 550 mm, exposure: 1/1.250s at f/4. Photo: frits van eldik

Approach slowly

We know from our own experience that you always have to adjust yourself to a track, its characteristics and the cars driving there. A photo that is sharp to the core is not necessarily a good photo then. When it comes to fast cars, it’s also always about dynamics. It has to be visible in a photo, otherwise you could also take a picture of a stationary car. To explore what works, frits van eldik advises experimenting:

  • make sure you can move freely and follow the passing cars with the camera.
  • experiment with different shutter speeds from 1/1.000s up to 1/15s.
  • Choose a realistic shutter speed of, for example, 1/250s or a step below that of 1/125s. If you feel confident even 1/80s.
  • Keep in mind that the motion effect on the image is more effective when something is moving
    in the foreground and in the background.
  • Change positions – from the race track to the grandstands or even in the middle of the audience.
  • practice makes perfect – try many times to get the perfect shot!

(canon ambassador frits van eldik)

A lot of dynamics and a great atmosphere can be achieved with further simple van eldik tricks: simply hold the camera at an angle or use the backlight. In motor sports, however, the most important thing is probably the unrestricted concentration on the track. you always have to be prepared, says van eldik, because you never know what will happen in the next moment.

It doesn’t have to be high-end

Photo: Frits van Eldik

This photo shows how important it is to be prepared in case something unexpected happens. Here, kamui kobayashi’s car takes off at the start of the grand prix in monaco. camera: canon EOS-1D X, focal length: 239 mm, exposure: 1/1.000s at aperture 7.1. photo: frits van eldik

Easy to say now you might think. Whoever has free access to the high-end of photographic technology, to the fastest cameras and the best lenses, can also take the best pictures. But technology alone is not enough.

For it is only as good as the eye that operates it. The sense for the right moment has the photographer and not the camera. In addition, just like the events mentioned above, it can be normal downscale. with a fast DSLR, like the canon 7D, and a fast 70-200 zomm you can do a lot of things at smaller events.

Photo: Frits van Eldik

A longer exposure time creates a very artistic effect on this image. The picture was taken under floodlight at the grand prix night race in singapore. Camera: canon EOS-1D mark IV, focal length: 500 mm, exposure: 1/15s at f-stop 14. photo: frits van eldik

Soon we will try to implement the tips of the grandmaster of motorsports frits van eldik in a smaller frame. Of course, we will document the results here in detail, in words and pictures.

already now we thank frits van eldik and look forward to more of his roaring pictures.

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Christina Cherry
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