A Portrait of Daren Heath, Formula 1 Photographer (Guest Blog by Neil Holmes)

Guest Blog by Neil Holmes: "Its great to be asked to write a blog post about a fellow photographer who´s work you find visually interesting and ‘different’ from the crowd. For me thats F1 Photographer Darren Heath." Read on to find out why...

02 Oct 2013


Here on TechTalk we like to share insights into the world of photography.

Since photographers know best about this craft, we've asked professional photographer Neil Holmes to tell us about someone in the industry that he admires. Find out who he chose and why in the post below...

Its great to be asked to write a blog post about a fellow photographer who's work you find visually interesting and 'different' from the crowd. For me thats F1 Photographer Darren Heath.

I discovered his work recently through a link on Twitter (Darren goes under the name @f1photographer). His career spans over 20 years, and by recording the sport, Darren's images have become highly sort after and are published worldwide.

Motorsports are not an simple subject to photograph. It's very easy to freeze the action going on in front of the lense and make these exotic machines look parked - frozen to the tarmac. To overcome this problem you can use a technique called 'panning' - which is when you follow the subject through the lense, moving the camera using a slow shutter setting and creating motion blur, which gives the impression of movement and speed.

Thats the theory at least, but its not quite that easy in practice. Darren has mastered this technique and taken it to a whole new level by using his detailed knowledge of different driver's driving styles and letting that dictate his choice of camera settings to achieve the desired result. He talks about this in more detail below:

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Darren is also known for his skills for producing candid portraits of people in the sport. Although he often has privileged access at the races, he works in the background photographing personal moments of all those involved.

Here are a few of my favorite images from Darren's archive:

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© Darren Heath Photographer (Bernie Ecclestone)

Bernie Ecclestone is 'Mr Formula 1' he has for many years controlled the commercial deals within the sport.

So how do you photograph a Billionaire businessman? Well, if I've got my facts right, I believe Mr Ecclestone used this capture on one of his personal Christmas cards. Its a fun image making me smile to see this powerful man seemingly hiding from the public gaze.

When composing an image you don't always have to fill the frame with the subject. In this shot, Mr Ecclestone has been positioned to the right, drawing the eye to the half covered face.

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© Darren Heath Photographer (Fernando Alonso at this years Bahrain GP)

Ferrari is the only constructor to compete in every season of the modern F1 era.

What it is to 'see differently'... This is a very abstract image and the main subject occupies only a small portion of the photograph, yet it is instantly recognized as 'Ferrari' - with the strong red colour in the foreground and the motion blur giving a feeling of immense speed. I'm also guessing this was probably shot through a hole in the fence or a gap in the safety barrier - not an easy position to work from.

With modern digital cameras its easy to make a photograph that is both sharp and well exposed but often boring. A lot of thought goes into making great pictures before the shutter is released. Its a good idea to visualize your picture first and then try to create it with your camera.

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© Darren Heath Photographer (Christian Horner Team Principal of the Red Bull Racing F1 team, 2013 British GP)

Until recently, Red Bull were considered the new boys on the block. They have won both the constructers and drivers championships for the last 3 years and are on course to do it again in 2013.

When I first saw this photograph I thought 'wow'. You need to be an F1 fan to know who this is. But even so, to capture a silhouette, candidly and still recognize the subject is quite an achievement. To make a shot like this work, your subject needs to be darker than the background in this case a blue sky, being much lighter and free from distractions. The sky is correctly exposed, allowing the subject to go dark, emphasizing the outline. This picture would also
work well in black & white.


© Darren Heath Photographer (Michael Schumacher)

Michael Schumacher is a seven-time F1 world Champion and regarded as one of the sports greatest drivers. Seen here at the 1998 German GP. This is a photograph that shouldn't work. It is shot backlit with high summer sunshine, pre
digital on contrasty colour transparency film. Darren is in the right place at the right time and has captured the decisive moment.

Schumacher wouldn't have held this thoughtful pose for long - the slightest movement on his part and his hand would have obscured his face and his profile would have been lost. For the technically minded, the exposure has to be correct to capture the highlight on the face. The light is actually hitting Schumacher's red overalls and illuminating him. Be thankful we now have digital sensors and photoshop!

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© Darren Heath Photographer (Sunbathers and Ferrari at the 2013 Monaco GP)

Many years ago I spent a few hours in the principality of Monaco as a poor student, sadly not on the GP weekend. I chose this image because for me it encompasses the glamour of the event and how close the cars run to the spectators - something that doesn't happen at modern circuits. This isn't a unique vantage point to Darren, but as any good photographer would, he puts his own stamp on the image.

Planning plays a very important part in photography. The Monaco race weekend consists of free practice on Thursday, practice and qualifying on Saturday, final practice and the race Sunday afternoon. Imagine arriving at this location and finding no Sunbathers!

See more of Darren's work on his website: www.darrenheath.com
All the images in this blog post are the Copyright of Darren Heath Photographer.

Blog written by Neil Holmes
Website: www.nh97.com/wp
Twitter: @neilholmesphoto

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