Rennsport Reflections

Porsche’s fourth Rennsport Reunion is almost here after a long wait and even some speculation that it would never occur again. This year it will be on the west coast for the first time ever, at Laguna Seca, and no doubt there will be some PCA folks who have never been to one of these glorious, target-rich photo opportunities.

There will be plenty of other photographers at Rennsport IV; planning ahead can help you get just what you want.


In thinking about all this, I went through my digital images, some 2500 of them, from Rennsport II at Daytona in 2004. I was not completely committed to digital at that time, and shot with both an early 6 megapixel digital and a late SLR film camera (bad mistake; more on that later). Digital technology has come a long way since then, and I’ve learned a couple of things about both digital and photography in general. Here are some more or less random thoughts.

Look for a vantage point to shoot groups of cars; even a monopod with a remote release can be used to improve your angle.


Think about where you want to go with your pictures. Will you post them on a web site, use them in a regional newsletter or other publication, have exhibition prints made, or create a personal book of images through one of the many web-based services like My Publisher?

Organizers in the past have made good use of car groups, and you can bet that the tradition will be continued this time.


Decide what you want from the event before you go. Are you anxious to shoot a specific car for your archive (maybe the 1977 935 “Baby” that has never even been in this country before)? Get one shot of every car there? Document the car of a friend who has a car racing or on display? Plan your time to make it work.

There will be lots of famous people to see and photograph. Here, Pano European editor Mike Cotton gets a laugh from Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood.


Don’t spend time worrying about “credentials.” At the three previous Rennsports, the glory has been the cars in the garage and in the pits, the drivers, and the factory engineers. Having a basic ticket is your credential to that. Track shots are nice, but at Laguna it is particularly easy to get dynamite action pictures—especially the signature corkscrew shots—from the general viewing area. Just remember that you can be at only one place at a time, and if you spend most of your time getting cars diving into the corkscrew, you will have a lot of shots that will look a lot like what everyone else is shooting, and may miss the one-off picture of an engineer looking at a car he helped develop 40 years ago, or a driver reunited with a car that once brought him victory.

Everyone in this group is an outstanding Porsche driver. Knowing who to look for will help hone your shooting efforts.


How about people? Sure, we’ll all shoot the crowds, the folks with crazy hats and clothes or maybe wild tattoos, perhaps selected members of the opposite sex, and so on. But there will be famous drivers there, probably some you’ve only read about and never seen. There will be Porsche engineers who were of great importance in the company’s racing history. Will you know them when you see them in the paddock or on the grid? Doing a little homework beforehand will improve your score.

Take a break to see the many exhibits surrounding the event, get some shots, and maybe buy something neat.


Shoot now, edit later. It will be over all too soon, and might never be repeated; certainly, never like this. Digital “film” is all but free. Shoot intelligently, but shoot often and fast. You can throw away duplicates later. Do take a little time to check your results to make sure your shutter speed, exposure and lens choices are doing what you want.

Porsche factory engineers Peter Falk and Hans Mezger talk with Willi Khausen, who drove this 917 in the European Interserie races.


Organize and save. A little time spent organizing images when you get back home can help later on; I like to put them in different sub-folders. At Rennsport II, I had folders for 356s, spyders, “plastic” Porsches, 935s, 911s—you get the idea. Files of drivers, engineers, event color, and others rounded out the cluster. If you have library software, keywording is immensely useful for future searches and references. Oh, and don’t shoot both film and digital for an event like this. It’s an organizational nightmare; I keep forgetting I even have film images—somewhere.

Keep even your miserable quality pictures, like this one (left). Modern software makes it easy to get a pretty good look at the longtail hiding in the dense shadows behind the 936 deck (right). Who knows what might come along in another 7 years.

Don’t throw anything away. OK, dump the duplicates—shots so similar that there’s nothing to choose among, and those where one similar shot is clearly better than others. But here’s the thing: there’s a lot of pleasure to be had in looking back at your old images and finding that the new software you now use can convert a marginal or frankly bad image—often one of the high contrast monsters with tons of underexposure in part of the image—and render it as a pretty good or even frankly exciting picture. And its fun when you finally realize that the guy over in the corner of that group shot that you almost tossed is Jacky Ickx.

Don’t forget to enjoy the experience. It’s easy to get so caught up in your shooting that you don’t really get into all that’s going on around you. There are lots of sights, sounds, emotions. Immerse yourself.

Pursuant to nothing: should a car company use a sponsor’s product, or a sponsor be sure to pick a winner? Probably both.


See you at Rennsport IV! Thanks for reading, and as always - let me know what you think. I'm