Formula 1 has been a love of mine for over 30 years thanks to my Dad introducing me when I was a child. We visited Silverstone and the famous Donnington Grand Prix of 1993. This has led onto over 20 years of visits to Albert Park, and a Singapore race in 2010. Of course my love of photography has meant that I possess a great deal of knowledge about shooting F1 at Albert Park in Melbourne.
I now gain media access thru my work with global photo agencies, but even then photo access can be limited and some knowledge and creativity is required to get the best shots possible. All of the images on this page are shot in public areas with lenses I have legally taken in.
Camera Gear Used
- Canon 5D Mark III and 5DsR
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens and EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
- Hoya Pro1D Polariser
Albert Park is very easy to get to from downtown Melbourne. There are multiple tram routes there and you can even walk if you are fit. Refer to the official website for all info.
Sometimes a location is just too big for one article so here are some related articles
The official wording for photo restrictions to the public for 2018 is as follows:
‘camera lenses with a physical length greater than 400mm or any other item which might reasonably obstructs the view of any other Patron; or photographic, video or audio recording equipment AGPC reasonably considers may be used in breach of Attendance Condition 36, which may include (without limitation) audio recorders, camera tripods, monopods or any digital recording
Being able to take a 400mm lens in is in fact great and gives you some good opportunity for a great photo. Do not try to break the law with anything bigger, or bring monopods etc. It isnt worth it and security does a great job of picking these items out.
No matter where you are on the circuit some tips are as follows:
1.) On some corners you can get quite close so a 200mm is very usable. Dont underestimate it.
2.) You absolutely want low F stop lens, F2.8 being preferably. This is because you need to focus thru the fence and want to put that out of focus as much as possible.
3.) Shooting a static car at 1/2000 sec is child’s play. Bringing your shutter down to 1/100th and panning is where it is at. Even a slight pan on a slow corner is effective. Many of the shots on this page feature long sideways pans.
4.) Try to shoot thru gaps in the fence if possible, and avoid shooting the communication wiring as that is darker and comes out in your photos badly.
5.) Try to shoot thru a shaded part of the fence. This is important as sunlight on the fence washes out the images a lot and makes the lines more visible.
6.) Look at all the entertainment stages, and also up in the air for planes. Some of my favourite shots are of the fighter jets as seen in this article.
7.) As you are forced to use wide apertures due to the fence, your focus spot is very important. If you focus on the front wing, then the rear of the car is blurred. Try to aim for the helmet to strike a good balance between front and rear of the car. It takes a lot of practice! As a side note, the professional photographers who shoot thru gaps, with longer and superior lenses have a much much easier job. Dont let this deter you though and I hope the images in this article show what can be done with good consumer equipment and access.
The first spot on the track for usually great view is on the outside of turn 2. There is a great long shot to the outside of turn 1. Usually plenty of accidents but just a nice long view of the apex
The outside of Turn 3 (to left of grandstand) offers one of my favourite views thru a corner. Turn 3 is slow, has plenty of action and gives you a good chance to capture multiple cars in one shot. As the other cars are out of the focal planer, they blur out beautifully. Late in the day there is a warm sunny light that is cast but be careful of a sunlit fence. Try to find a shadow on the fenceline from a tree, or the grandstand, or even a track marshall.
The inside of turn 4 is the best panning spot on the track. Not much variety but you can get great sharp shots with a long pan. There is never many people here which gives you space to move. Play with super slow shutters to get the background fencing blurred.
Ive never had a great success shooting here but it must be visited for the experience of seeing an F1 car on the edge of grip as it acclerates around turn 5. Nowadays the grip is so high they can go flat out. It is quite an experience.
The outside of turn 7 is great. You can get close to the fence and zoom far away on the apex, which helps to remove the fence. Often there are large plume of sparks when drivers are pushing hard. As the years go by, this corner gets faster and faster so some skill is required. You can also get a panning shot on the exit but this is quite tricky.
One of the great spectator corners. Not great for shooting cars, but great crowd and skyline shots can be taken here.
On the outside of turn 12 you will see the ‘pro amateurs’. I always see lenses greater than legally allowed with monopods and people are crammed against the fence. For good reason too. A great view of the high speed chicane after the speed of Lakeside Drive. Sparks are often seen. Late in the day, the light can be spectacular coming in from the side.
There is a very cheeky spot on the outside of turn 13 that hardly anyone knows about. It helps if you are tall and stand high as there is an embankment that drops down to the adjoining oval. If you go up the 1st wire fence you can get great clear panning shots of the cars as they come around at high speed. The fence is slightly more visible as you are on an angle to it, but one can live with that.
The outside of turn 14 is a very popular spot for taking images and its worthy of giving a go. I however don’t feel that its very exciting. I just never had a great shot here. Just a boring static looking one. I feel that it is just too far away for 400mm.
Perhaps my favourite spot on the track. You can watch the cars decelerating, brake discs glowing and then pan around the corner towards turn 16 and the main straight. You can get great pans here on the inside. If you are lucky you might be allowed to shoot some quick shots from up in the grandstand. The b&w shot below is from high up and one of my favourite shots.
Watch the timetable for the fighter jets and be ready. Too loud in my opinion, but great fun to shoot. A 400mm is more than enough and if you are quick, then easy to get in focus with today’s cameras.
Look for other events and promotional models who are always more than happy to be photographed. It is their job after all!