August 2017 - Fun on two wheels and four

August has been another busy month with a programme of events centred around the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Here are a few of the highlights.

Nurburgring Motorrad training (August 2-3)

I'm a keen biker and adore motorbikes, which is why I always love to shoot bikes whenever an opportunity arises. At the start of August I was invited to shoot a magazine feature for Motorrad Sweden, one of Sweden’s leading motorcycle magazines, for an upcoming article (MotorRad17B_0214D). The subject was the Motorrad training course – one of two instructor-led courses that represent the only way of tackling the 20 kilometer Nordschleife on two wheels without having cars around (following the banning of motorcycle track days and sessions). If you’ve ever wondered how we create those shots of a car or bike following the camera on-track, here are some secrets. They’re called tracking shots and they’re a tricky business because you often need to be a photographer, location manager, set director, artist liaison and producer all at the same time – and while pointing backwards on your belly in the boot of car driving at 60kph while trying to remember which corner is coming next! Over time, you develop plenty of experience as to how to perform all these roles effectively and when the result is something like the shot below (MR15B_1030D), it’s all worth it. Bikes are a far more challenging proposition than cars when it comes to tracking shots, primarily because to make them look spectacular, you need to have them cranked over mid-corner, and the laws of physics dictate that this means they need to be taking quite a lot of speed. I was fortunate to have two very experienced riders to shoot; former pro Helmut Daehne and Motorrad editor Gerry Nordstrom and to my delight, Helmut brought along not only his legendary Honda RC30 – the exact bike on which he set the eternal Nurburgring bike record – but also the amazing BMW R90S on which he won the Isle of Man Production TT 1976 (MotorRad17B_0282D). Their experience at following a photographer’s direction meant the task was pretty straightforward, and a tracking vehicle driver who knows what they’re doing is also a big help. My golden rules for a strong tracking shot are; brief your driver beforehand so they’re aware of where you’re likely to want to shoot, make sure there’s a good degree of elevation behind to give a perspective of your location, and be clear with your instruction.

July 2017 Blog: Two legendary tracks, three incredible events

Manthey-Racing 911 approaching Ex-Muehle'

Motorsport has been my love and passion for as long as I can remember.
So much so that more than 10 years ago I decided to give up my job as an engineer to become a full-time motorsport photographer, dedicating myself to covering motorsport to the best of my abilities, getting as close as possible to the action and capturing it as a documentary.
I remember how at the time I felt safe thinking that I could easily return to engineering, but it's safe to say I haven't looked back since!

I’m Jochen and through Frozenspeed Motorsport Photography, I spend the year darting from racetrack to racetrack chasing the perfect image.

I’ve decided to start a blog to share my passion, images and some of the stories behind them, with you.

July has been another intense month with plenty of travelling through Germany and Belgium as some of the biggest events in the sportscar racing calendar descended on the Nurburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.

VLN 4 – July 8th

VLN 911 duel I have a very special connection with the Nurburgring Nordschleife and the VLN endurance series and this image really shows you why.
This is Eiskurve, one of my favourite locations to shoot from because of the way the bumps and kerbs unsettle the car multiple times, creating a great spectacle against a beautiful Nurburgring background.

The 2 Porsche GT3Rs going head-to-head are driven by Ringmeisters Romain Dumas and Frank Stippler.
Dumas's Manthey 911 has settled again but you can see how Stippler is still fighting his car as he accelerates over the kerb.
I love how the sensation of speed is emphasised by having the Manthey 911 pin sharp and the following car blurred out, which is achieved by walking a thin photography line.

Having spent so much time on and around the Nordschleife during the past 15 years, I know exactly where to shoot from to get unique action and/or atmosphere images.
This extends to seasonal foilage and gaps in the trees, which really show why it's called 'The Green Hell’.
With images like this, timing is everything.
Over years you develop a good feeling for timing when the car will be at that perfect point to capture an image like this.

Manthey Green Hell'

I’ve been photographing for Manthey-Racing for over a decade and it’s very rewarding when a Nurburgring legend like Olaf Manthey, makes a point of telling you how much he likes a certain photo.
I have been happy to see how Manthey-Racing have reverted to using their iconic yellow and green livery, which helps the car stand out against a dark background and just looks great in general.

FIA WEC Nurburgring – July 14-16th

I’ve taken over 100.000 images already in 2017 (using single frame mode), but this one is my clear favourite so far!
Showing Brendon Hartley exiting his Porsche 919 Hybrid during qualifying, this image uses a special zoom technique I've been practicing recently. With the camera trained firmly on the New Zealander, he appears in razor-sharp focus while everything around him is in blur. This draws your complete attention and creates the effect that he’s the perfect calm in the eye of the storm, which is a good metaphor for this kind of pitlane action as it looks wild and chaotic, yet everybody knows exactly what to do and performs their job perfectly.

Brendan Hartley handing over his Porsche 919 to Timo Bernhard'

Given rare and exclusive access to the Porsche prototype garage, you can tell a story that few photographers can and really reveal the emotions that play a part in top-level endurance racing.
It was a very special feeling to cover the weekend from inside the legendary Porsche prototype factory team and I am very grateful to have gotten the chance to do this before the programme ends later this year.

WEC LMP1 drivers' WEC LMP1 pit pass'

One of my assignments for the weekend was to cover the Manthey-run factory Porsche GTE 911 RSRs.
Not too tricky a task individually, but much more difficult to shoot together. Trying to get an image like the one below always reminds you that a race has no script and your influence as a photographer is very limited. .
As an example, I had inside information that Timo Bernhard would start the #2 919 with a double-stint, at the end of which I planned to shoot him exiting the car. Standing trackside later on, I could only look on as I saw on the giant screen that he climbed out after a single stint; a consequence of a late strategy change.
You simply have to see how everything unfolds; stay on your toes and react to the changing conditions.

This includes keeping track of the cars and their closing rates to predict when they will catch each other and plan where you want to be when that happens. In this case this was the entry to the Ravenol corner, meaning I could focus on the details of the RSR's impressive diffuser configuration with a fitting background, considering the dull sky of a dreary day.

911 RSR duel'

On the section of track leading up to this corner I got to capture the incredible contrast between the LMP1 and GTE Porsches.
I am fascinated by the LMP prototypes anyway, but when you combine them with the GT cars on track, their incredible speed gets a reference point and you get to see just how impressive they really are.
In this shot the pair of GTE cars are like fish in the sea and I like how the prototype is looming in the gap between them like a Great White Shark (fin included).
You might get the chance to capture an image like this once in a whole weekend, so you have to take the opportunity when you do.
Capturing an image like this is comparable to putting a 3lb bait on an extra thick fishing line and ignoring the school of tasty, but familiar, fish swimming by. You might very well catch nothing, but if you do get a bite, it will be spectacular!
I also like the marbles on-track and the unused Michael Schumacher S grandstand behind as they reveal the spirit of endurance racing and make for a clean image composition.

WEC Porsche armada'

A larger gallery from the WEC Nurburgring weekend can be found here.

Blancpain 24 hours of Spa – July 26-30th

And so to the 24 Hours of Spa, the highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Putting 60-plus closely matched GT3 cars in the hands of the world's top GT drivers together on this challenging track for 24 hours results in, what is in my opinion, the most intense GT race of the year.

Spa 24h battlefield'

Spa 24h start

You can't think of Spa without thinking of Eau Rouge.
One of the most incredible corners in the world that tests the skills of both drivers and photographers to the max.

Focusing on the Team 75 Bernhard Porsche at the start,
I got lucky as exactly the kind of moment I was hoping for (spectacle without drama) unfolded right in front of me
(and Kevin Estre) as Mirko Bortolotti fought to keep his Huracan under control after he reached this impossible angle going up Raidillon.

I headed back there at night and caught the Andy Soucek Bentley, which finished second, going through at full-pelt.
Images like this are technically very tough because the cars come past at 230kph at a distance of only two meters.
By using a tripod and getting the angle, strength and timing of the flash right, you can use a long exposure to create the effect of the trailing lights up the hill;
but not too long because this is all for nothing if there’s another car following close behind.

Spa 24h Bentley Eau Rouge

Between Eau Rouge and La Source is the old pits; another special place to work at,
especially at night when the low ambient light allows you to fill in the light just where you want it.

Teamwork is a vital and fascinating part of endurance racing, as demonstrated by this mechanic changing wheels.
Just look at the determination in his eyes! However tired he is – and you can tell by the amount of dirt on the car that this is some way into the night – he is fully-focused on doing a perfect job.
I also love the curvature of the air hose, which helps complete the image.

Spa 24h Team Bernhard pitstop

A larger gallery from the Spa 24h weekend can be found here.

Besides these highlighted events I also enjoyed fantastic days on track with Destination Nurburgring, RSR, RMA, Gedlich Racing, Schnelleschwaben, at Goodwood and with various other partners and clients.

July done, next up for me are the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix and the VLN 6 hour race, plus a host of races and track days full of exotic machinery at Spa, Assen, the Nurburgring and the Bilster Berg resort.

I hope you enjoyed this write up and the images as much as I enjoyed making them and look forward to getting back to you soon!

Jochen Signature

If you like what you see and think Frozenspeed can help with your motorsport photography needs then please don't hesitate to get in touch via email, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@frozenspeed).