Monday, October 1, 2012


Formula 1 Singapore 2012

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Last week was quite a busy week because it's my first time attending the F1 race in Singapore! Tickets are not cheap, and I always failed to get any free tickets for the past few years, but I finally managed this year!

I searched online for tips on good photos for Singapore F1, and other general tips. And together with my experience over 3 days, here are some tips for F1 Singapore!

I got a zone 3 & 4 ticket (green & orange area), so I'll only cover tips on these locations

General tips:
  • Most people come through gate 3 and 6. During peak hours (i.e. 1 hour before the race), it's better to come through other gates such as 4 or 5.
  • Don't try to bring food. Or drinks in glass bottles, or even very large bottles of drinks. They will deny entry.

View of the race:
  • The Photography locations are at Turn 7 (near Suntec City giant screen), Turn 8 (near Esplanade Underpass), Turn 11 (near Cricket Club), and Turn 13 (near One Fullerton)
    1. Turn 7 is one of the hot spots to photograph because of the unobstructed view of the whole turn. The only downside is the very large crowd and the barriers are placed somewhat far from the fence.
    2. Turn 8 is my choice of location for the race finals because few photographers want to come here. The downside is only a limited view of the turn can be seen, and the barriers are very far from the fence.
    3. Turn 11 is also another hot spot because the racing cars come very close to the audience. The barriers are also very close the fence, so there's a good chance that your camera's auto-focus won't hit the fence. The downside is the large crowd of photographers who will chope the best spots long before you do.
    4. Turn 13 is my favourite photography spot. The barrier is very close to the fence, you get a unobstructed view of the whole turn (and it's a 135 degree turn!), and there aren't too many photographers around. The downside is the cars won't come too close to the audience like turn 11, and they closed the viewing spot for the turn on the last day.
  • For walkaround ticket holders, one of the best spot is Turn 14. The race cars come the closest to you compared to all other locations, and there's a gap in the fence in that turn.
  • For grandstand ticket holders, one of the best seats is the Connaught grandstand. It's at the junction of Turn 8 and Turn 14, and there is a lot of action going on around this two bends.

Photography tips!
  • Panning is a very important skill during the race. Here are some tips on how to do a panning shot.
    1. Use Shutter Priority (Tv). Set it to a shutter speed that is slower than the speed required in the rule of thumb for a sharp handheld shot. If you're confident enough, use Manual Mode.
      (If you're using 200mm, the rule of thumb for a sharp handheld shot tells you to use 1/200sec)
      For me, I use shutter speeds between 1/60sec and 1/100sec at 200mm focal length. Too slow shutter increases the difficulty of the shot, lowering your hit rate for a good panning shot, and too fast shutter doesn't give enough blur to the background for a nice panning shot.
    2. Set your camera to AI SERVO. In this mode, the camera will track a moving subject by adjusting the focus continuously.
      While in AI SERVO mode, I find it very particularly good to set a Single focus point, instead of allowing the camera in auto-focus. By doing so, I rarely hit the fence while shooting at those speeding cars.
  • The track is actually quite bright, so an f/4 lens is quite sufficient. I can get a good shot at 1/60sec at f/4 and ISO 320. So in theory, it's possible to still get a clean shot out of a f/5.6 lens at 1/60sec and ISO 640.
  • I used Spot Metering over Evaluative Metering because there are many F1 cars that have lots of white paint of them, or are simply shiny. In Evaluative Metering, the camera will compensate for the overall darkness of the picture by turning up the brightness, and thus screwing up the highlights on the cars. Spot Metering does a better of properly exposing the car, but screws up the background. Not that I don't care about the background, but it's not as important. And that comes to my last point.
  • Shoot in RAW! If that's possible. Shooting in RAW gives you better control of your images, but each RAW file takes up about 3 times the space of a JPEG file, so stock up on those memory cards!

Here are some of the photos that I have taken during the race:

For more photos, please see my facebook or flickr. Also, please share with me your tips for F1 Singapore!

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