If you follow me on social media you may have noticed that I was over in France to watch (and photograph) the Le Mans 24 Hours; a race held every year in (oddly) Le Mans. It's a race that tests the drivers, the cars, the designers and the engineers. But let's not forget that we as spectators often stay up for the entire duration of the race too!
This was my 3rd Le Mans 24 hours and one of the most exciting yet. The photography, as well as the racing, was a lot of fun. I was also at Le Mans in 2013 and 2015 (missing a year because my son was born only a few months earlier).
Every year the race takes place in mid-June, starting on a Saturday at 3pm and finishing 24 hours later on the Sunday. My good friend and fellow photographer Neil Graham and I once again stayed up from sunset to sunrise to watch the race through the early hours of the morning, capturing some great shots along the way. Whilst naturally, owing to there being more light; the photographs I made during the daylight hours are cleaner. They were also easier to make because of course you're free to use a wider range of settings. Throughout the night and after the sun has set the challenge becomes all about your ability to pan smoothly using the settings that let the most light into the camera. That means f/2.8, higher ISO's and the lowest possible shutter speed.
In previous years I've focussed on the photography during the daytime and have (in my opinion) always ended up with a good number of clean, sharp images. Just take a look at 2015's Le Mans gallery to see the comparative results. To be honest, in good light it's relatively easy to get good images. Especially at Le Mans when you have an abundance of time (24 hours!). That's why at this years' race I focused more on the racing action after the sun had gone down and the darkness of night had truly set in.
Equipment and Settings
All of the images you see here were made exclusively with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Olympus M.ZUIKO 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. I've included all my settings and information below each image as well for those of you that may be interested.
I did make use of the 1.4 Extender as well whilst I was track-side, but in truth; at night time f/4 (which is the maximum aperture when you use the extender with an f/2.8 lens) was just not letting enough light into the camera. The other consideration was that for the most part we were close enough to the track so it didn't require that extra reach. 300mm was plenty!
Traditionally I would have encouraged anyone panning for long periods of time to do so with the aid of a tripod, or preferably a monopod for that extra manouvaerability. However, within the E-M1 and the 40-150 I just don't feel the need. The setup is so light that I don't believe it warrants it for me. This is one of the advantages of shooting with such a smaller system. The fact that I have up to 300mm worth of reach on such a small lens (the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO) , whilst maintaining f/2.8 throughout that zoom range is a revelation for me.
So, with all that in mind here are a selection of my favourite images from Le Mans 2016. If you have many questions about the images drop me a comment at the bottom of this post or get in touch via email, as always, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: You can click / tap on all of these images to view them at a larger size to inspect the detail
What do you think? Were you at Le Mans this year? What's your favourite image from this gallery? Drop me a moment below!
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