The thoughts of Chris Gurton on motorsport, his photography, his work and his life in general. The thoughts, views and opinion's expressed in this blog are those of Chris Gurton and not necessarily those of any publication that he contributes to.

Posts tagged “Photos

Canvas Opinion

It often surprises people to learn that I have none of my own photos on my wall home. The nearest I have is two wonderful paintings based on my images by Steffen Imhof and a great piece by the talented Ian Cook aka PopBangColour created in his unique style from a photo of mine.

The truth is, although I find it hard to pick one to put on display on the wall, I am hugely critical of my own work. Even when I have picked a selection of images I like, the longer I look at them, the more I can find fault in them. The more I find fault in them the more it irritates me. Even if it’s just a small thing in the background that isn’t quite right, then once I have spotted it, then that will be all I can see in the photo.

So when the offer arose of having one of my images put on to canvas and with the recent acquisition of a new house meaning more walls to decorate, I was hardly going to refuse. Having photos printed to canvas has become very popular in recent years and it is easy to see why. It is a great way to display images and they have a smart modern feel that everyone seems to like.

Finally I have some of my own work to put up on my wall in the form of this fantastic canvas from CanvasDesign.co.uk

Finally I have some of my own work to put up on my wall in the form of this fantastic canvas from CanvasDesign.co.uk

Canvas Design is a family run company with 10 years of experience in printing and framing. They offer a range of canvas sizes from six inches all the way up to a huge 72 inches and starting from just £5.99. A choice of options and free services such as image enhancement, red eye removal and free delivery, underline Canvas Designs value for money. The website is easy to use and service is pain free. In fact the hardest thing you’ll need to do is, like me, choosing the photo you want printed. In fact, I think it took longer for me to chose the image than it did to have it printed and delivered.

I had sent my image off on Sunday evening and by Wednesday morning my huge 40” by 26” canvas had been delivered. To say I’m pleased with it is an understatement. It looks amazing. The quality is great, printed on 100% cotton and hand stretched on a 38mm pine frame, I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m really looking forward hanging it up in my new home and hopefully others will appreciate it as much as me.

With great service and a quality product, I would definitely recommend Canvas Design to all my friends and family. What’s more, they are offering you an extra 15% off all orders with the discount code BLOG15 So go and check out their websites now at http://www.canvasdesign.co.uk/ & http://www.canvasdezign.co.uk/


Trophy of the Dunes

This weekend saw the British GT championship head to Europe for rounds Eight and Nine at Zandvoort in Holland for the ‘Trophy of the Dunes’. So, naturally, I was there too and a great weekend was had.

Having got the overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, myself and my travel companions, Photographer Tom and Adam along with Journalist James, arrived at the circuit after a 50 mile drive on Friday morning. None of us had visited Zandvoort before but the formalities of signing in, getting our passes and photo bibs was no problem and we had found our way to the media centre without any issue. There was a lot of racing on the timetable but we were only there to cover the British GT, however we decided to use an early Dutch Supercar Challenge session to give us a feel of what the circuit was like.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

British GT Headed to Zandvoort in Holland for the ‘Trophy of the Dunes’

Thankfully any red zones, the area’s that photographers are not allowed in for safety reasons, were clearly marked and the circuit was fairly easy to navigate round. The trouble with visiting a new circuit is that you can never be too sure where the good angles are and a lot of time is spent hunting them out and trying different spots to see what works and what doesn’t. This was definitely the case this weekend and the two 55 minute practice sessions were spent in various sections of the track trying to cover as many area’s as possible.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

Sparks fly as the United Autosport Audi heads up the hill.

The Circuit is right beside the sea with the beach just a few hundred meters behind the main grandstand and the track weaving between sand dunes. Static caravans and a bizarre Centre-Parcs which seemed to be a tower block of apartments provided some of the backdrop that the dunes didn’t. The undulations helped provide some good angles and perspectives on the 2.676 mile circuit and the sand below our feet was certainly a change from the norm at a race track. The weather was humid and dry for the first session but the locals had said it can be changeable. This was proved right as the skies darkened and the rain fell before the second practice session at the end of the day. As the cars took to the track the rain did ease but standing water in some area’s did prove some challenge for the drivers.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

The rain caused some standing water.

As the day drew to an end, it was time to head to the apartment we had booked. It was only a mile or so from the track and in the town. This was handy as although we spent a long time walking around trying to find a supermarket, we didn’t have too far to go. It was good to see there were a couple of British TV channel’s on the TV including the BBC.  The evening was spent drinking beer and eating burger and chips while looking through the days photos and deciding where to go for the other sessions during the weekend.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

I’ve never experience static caravans as a backdrop at a circuit.

Saturday arrived and the Qualifying session was first up. I headed to the far side of the circuit to shoot this and the view from the top of the hill was pretty good. The weather, albeit humid, was cloudy and during the qualifying session there was a light shower which made for some interesting qualifying times for the races. It was going to make for some interesting racing.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

The weather was changeable during qualifying.

Race one was to take place at the end of the day so there was quite a wait till then but the time was filled with photo editing and watching some of the other racing taking place throughout the day. I had decided to head out to the far side of the track again but work my way back the opposite way to which I did earlier during qualifying. The racing was good but I couldn’t help feel like I struggled somewhat with my camera. I just wasn’t feeling happy with some of the angles I was getting so spent a lot of time moving around. This also led to myself almost bumping into a startled deer amongst an area of long grass and bushes. Luckily it didn’t run onto the track. The race seemed over a lot quicker than the one hour and I was left a little disappointed with the photos I had taken.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

I felt I struggled behind the lens over the weekend.

Sunday was a new day however and after an evening of watching the delightful Rachel Riley on Strictly Come Dancing I was hoping I could make amends and get some good images. The overnight and morning rain had stopped just in time for the 10 minute warm up session which I spent in the pit lane.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

I spent the warm up session in the wet pit lane.

There were a couple of sections of the circuit I still hadn’t explored which I had planned to visit during the second race. The rain had gone and the sun was out ready for the second GT race and I had decided to capture the start on the outside of the first corner. I was a long walk to get there but thankfully a guy in a golf cart took me most of the way. I knew I would have to walk a long way back to get to the rest of the race from the area’s I the wanted to be, but I was hoping the start shot that would take in the whole of the long pit straight would be worth it.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

It was a long walk to get the start shot on the outside of the first corner.

I had spent the first few minutes of the race at the first corner before the long brisk walk back to the area’s I wanted to get to. I had sacrificed about 15 minutes of shooting to get the start shot so needed to make the remaining time count. Again, there was good close racing on show and I was feeling happier behind the camera and quite pleased with some of the results. I had just got to the last place I wanted to be before the end of the race and was feeling more content. The circuit was great and I think if I was to visit again I would hopefully get a bit more out of myself knowing now where some of the good angles are.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

I managed to get a few good angles during the second race.

We left the circuit late afternoon to head back to the port to get the overnight ferry home. It was the end of a good weekend that I had enjoyed and spent in good company. Holland is a really nice country and everyone was very friendly, plus they do good chips too so I hope to visit again soon. Maybe the British GT championship will be back next year.

To read full race reports from the weekend, visit the Checkered Flag website here.

Image Copyright Chris Gurton Photography

I’d be more than happy to visit Zandvoort again in the future.


Behind the Fence

I often get told two things during a race weekend while I’m there taking photos by members of the public. That I am lucky to have a media bib because you can get great photos and that it is hard to get decent photos from the spectator area. One of these statements is true to a certain extent and the other is false.

Yes, I am lucky to have a media bib. However I certainly don’t take it for granted and I deem myself very fortunate, but it is not without a lot of hard work that I have been given the opportunities I have. On the flip side, being able to take great photos is down to your own ability, creativity and making the most of the situations and opportunities you get. I’m not saying my ability or creativity is great though. I made a conscious decision to really push myself harder this season, try new things, work on areas I wasn’t so good at and be more creative and if I didn’t improve then I would consider the situation at the end of the season and decide whether to continue or not.

I made a decision to push myself and improve my photography and work on areas I wasnt so confident with. One of those areas was within the pit lane. A place I now spend more time in than I used to.

There are a lot of great photographers I admire and are the driving force for me to push myself and explore new possibilities when it came to my motorsport photography. I am always learning new things and it’s great to continually try things to see what works and what doesn’t. I would rather have a handful of really great photos from a weekend than 200 average ones. I am never one to blow my own trumpet, in fact, an ex girlfriend told my mum the day she walked out on me that she hated the way I am not confident enough in my own ability. Maybe so, but I would rather other people judge my work and decide if it is any good or not. This season it seems the general census of opinion is that my work has and is continuing to improve and now I can return home on a Sunday evening and be really pleased with some of my images. Yes, I still take some duff shots and not all of my experimental images work. I just don’t share them.

This leads me on to the second of the two statements. You can get good photos from the spectator areas. You just need to explore a little more to find the right places. A good photo doesn’t necessarily mean a close cropped image of a car or bike. A good image is something that is pleasing to the eye. I like images that capture atmosphere, surroundings and the mood of the event even if I may not necessarily be as good at that than others. I like images that tell a story and show creative thinking. Yes, photography is subjective like all art forms whether it be pictures, sculptures or music. What one person likes, another may not so I am not saying you have to agree. But if you think you can’t get any good photos from the spectator side of the fence, maybe you need to think about whether photography is for you.

I set myself a little project to try and prove that you can take good photos from the spectator areas at circuits.

So with all this in mind, whilst at Brands Hatch for the Britcar, Formula 2 & GT Open Championships at the weekend, I set myself a little challenge. I decided to spend a little time in the spectator areas to see what I could come up with. Brands Hatch is one of my favourite circuits and probably the best UK circuit for the keen amateur photographer as there are many good places to photograph from behind the fence. Especially on the Grand Prix loop. I know this as I used to be one of the many spectators with my camera taking photographs at race weekends. It is where I honed my somewhat basic skills and learnt a lot about motorsport photography.

During a couple of the sessions, over the weekend, one of the GT Qualifying sessions on Saturday and the Formula Junior Race on Sunday, I went and stood on the inside of Druids hairpin to see what I could do. Despite the odd looks I was getting from some of the public and the woman who seemed convinced I was taking photos of her whilst I set and locked the focus on my camera I enjoyed myself. Working with the surroundings and capturing the cars from a different perspective, I feel I managed to get some nice photos.

Despite the odd looks I was getting, it was worth it. This is one of my favourite photos from the weekend.

I’ve put some of the photos together in an album on my Chris Gurton Photography Facebook page here.  I hope to add to the album throughout the season and I also hope that maybe I have helped quash the belief that you can’t get good photos from behind the fence. So for all those keen photographers out there, don’t be afraid to be different and try new things. Make the most of the places you can get to, the surrounds around you and do your own thing. Don’t get jealous of the guy next to you who has expensive brand new equipment and a top of the range camera and lens. A lot of my equipment is second hand and there are a couple of photographers I really admire who don’t have the latest or the really expensive gear and their photos are fantastic. Remember, it’s not the size of your lens that counts, it’s what you do with it.

But most of all, have fun and enjoy your photography.