Tip 1: La Sarthe grandstand

Tickets are required to access the main grandstand during the 24 Hours of Le Mans and most other events. At Le Mans, however, you can visit the grandstand for free during practice and qualifying.

If you want to get some nice pit stop shots, or capture the drivers coming in and out of the pits, you should be well prepared. It is difficult to see which teams are where. Once you know, you have to stand under a sloping railing. This can be very hard on your back, especially if you are tall. Once you’re in the right spot, it’s a matter of holding your camera over the edge of the grandstand and getting a good focus on the rider.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 1 Pitlane

Tip 2: Dunlop curve

At the end of the grandstands on the straight, you have to cross the road, or if you come from the inside of the track, go through the small tunnel. There you will see some stairs to get to this section. Then run as far as you can to the corner and stand against the fence.

You need at least 200mm here, but 300mm is better. You will see the cars coming out of the Ford chicane onto the straight. You will also see the cars coming out of the pit lane.

At the beginning or end of the race, this is the best spot because the grandstands are still full. This atmosphere makes for a better photo and therefore a better result.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 2 Dunlop Curve

Tip 3: Dunlop chicane

At the Dunlop chicane you can take several types of pictures. A few meters to the left or to the right makes a difference.

You can shoot the cars straight ahead with the billboards in the background. Depending on how they look, this can make for a colorful spectacle. It is also possible to pan the cars through the fences. This is done when the cars turn right towards the Dunlop Bridge. Finally, you can also photograph the cars when they are only turning to the right, but photographed straight ahead. In short, many variations are possible within a few meters.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 3 Dunlop Chicane

Tip 4: Dunlop bridge

Walk along the Dunlop Bridge to the low fence. There are often many people watching, so ask nicely if you can pass and be patient. Climb over the fence and stand almost against the track. The cars literally pass within a few feet. Please note that it is at your own risk to stand here and it is possible that you will be turned away.

There are several large holes in the fences that you can photograph through. Cars are accelerating out of the Dunlop chicane towards the bridge. You have the opportunity to take a mood shot with the small cars and the straight in the background. You can also get a close-up of the straight from the front, and with 50 to 70mm you can also pan a little here, so you can get a lot of variation in your photos.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 4 Dunlop Bridge

Tip 5: Esses

At this point you can see the cars going under the Dunlop Bridge. Since you are on a hill, it is possible to take pictures over the fences. Keep in mind that the distance is considerable, so you need at least 300mm to get good pictures.

What you can do here is panning. Follow the gravel road up the hill and make sure you have enough space to get over the fences. What you can also do here to get extra atmosphere in your photo is to make the audience part of your photo. You’ll be showing the surroundings and not getting those static pictures.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 5 Esses

Tip 6: Esses

For this point you really need a stool or stairs. There is a stone wall and an opening to the courtyard for press photographers and others. Set up your stairs so that you can photograph over the wall.

Cars come out of the Esses on the way to Tetre Rouge and take the inside of the curbs. Don’t be fooled by the speed here, the cars go quite fast. You can pan very well here with a 1/300 if you have some experience. The only downside can be the press photographers in front of your frame. Be patient, they never stay for long and in the case of the 24 Hours of Le Mans you usually have plenty of time. Keep in mind that you have to get out of the picture to leave enough space around the car.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 6 Esses

Tip 7: Esses

This is a tricky spot to photograph, and to get there you have to walk towards the tunnel under the track. Before you get there you will see a low fence that you can look behind. Climb over it so that you are facing the big fence. Just like at the Dunlop Bridge, this is obviously not the intention, so you might be sent away.

Push the fence aside with your shoulder so you can take a picture through the mesh. The cars come out of the Esses at high speed and pass within a few meters of you. Because they are coming straight at you, you can freeze these shots at 1/800. When you take the picture, try to keep the background in mind. In fact, if you do it right, you can get the Dunlop Bridge in the background of your photo. Not only does this add atmosphere, but it also shows where you are.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 7 Esses

Tip 8: Tetre Rouge

To get to the inside of the track you have to use the tunnels under the track. Now run up the hill until you reach the middle. Here is a concrete platform from which you can watch. If you have stairs you can use them to get over the fences. If you don’t, you can also stand on the steel railing.

This is the perfect place to pan. My tip is to photograph the cars exactly as they hit the apex on the inside of the curb. Since the curbs are yellow and blue, combined with the blue in the background, you get a colorful spectacle. It is important to consider the different driving classes. A GT is less fast than an LMP1, and therefore panning is more difficult in the latter category. So start slow and adjust your settings when you get good images, or deliberately choose one setting per category.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 8 Tetre Rouge

Tip 9: Esses inside

When you are on the inside of the track and you go towards the Esses, you go up the big hill. In fact, you are now at the same height as point 6, but the image is completely different. Move your focus point all the way down so that you can see the background as well. This is because people often stand here looking up at the fences, and it makes the picture less boring.

From the Dunlop Bridge, the cars go down into the Esses and then back up towards Tetre Rouge. Exactly this last part is what you have to photograph. But there are also green posts next to the curbs that you don’t want in front of your car. If you come to this point later in the race, chances are that these posts have already been hammered out of the ground. The billboards in the background determine the final image, which is different every year.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 9 Esses

Tip 10: Dunlop bridge inside

This is a tricky spot to photograph. Next to the stairs of the bridge crossing the track you can stand on the left side. Here there is a wall with barbed wire, but with a stool you can photograph here. It is also possible to climb up here, but then it is difficult to stand stable and take pictures.

The cars come from the straight through the Dunlop curve. Of course it’s possible to take pictures directly from the front, but since you’re already high up, it’s usually not a good idea. It is better to wait for the cars to turn so that the background is much nicer and you can pan. This can make for very atmospheric shots. If you keep following the car, it will pass in front of the grandstand where you can pan again. By the way, you don’t have to shoot over the fence on the side, you can just stand in front of the lower fence on the side and shoot through the mesh. Just be careful not to get blurry photos.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 10 Dunlop Bridge

Tip 11: Dunlop chicane inside

Again, you have to shoot through the mesh of the fence. If you do it right you can get some nice pictures, but personally I don’t think it’s one of the nicest points on the track. In fact, I only come here at the end of the race when I have done all the other points.

You can take pictures of the back of the car here. You have to print the moment the car hits the kerb. But you are too far away from the fence to take a picture through a hole in the fence. As a result, the fence will be photographed instead of the car, or your photos will be blurry.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 11 Dunlop Chicane

Tip 12: Mulsanne

To get here you have to invest, taking into account the position of the sun. It is not possible to reach this point on foot, so use the car. There are plenty of (paid) parking spaces and from there you can walk to the bend. Once there, you are on a small hill and can easily photograph over the fences. However, a low viewpoint is always nicer, so stand against the fence and photograph through the holes in the mesh.

The cars come out of the long straight at very high speeds of over 300 km/h and brake hard before the Mulsanne corner. This is the point you want to photograph. Also when the cars are just coming out of the turn is a great spot. Make sure the car is just coming out of the corner so you can pan. Because the car is still getting up to speed, you can easily shoot at 1/100 or less.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 12 Mulsanne

Tip 13: Indianapolis

Like Mulsanne, this is another point where you have to invest (unless you are camping on this side). Walking is not an option, so you have to park the car at Arnage. From the parking lot it is a few minutes walk to this point. You are on a hill higher than the fences along the track, so you can take pictures over them. But it is better to find a lower point and photograph through the fences. The cars come out of Mulsanne at high speed and then take a slight turn to slow down for Indianapolis.

The first part with the long straight in the background can produce very nice atmospheric photos. You will need a wide zoom range. The 2nd part is more difficult to photograph because of the limited space and the fences you have to deal with.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 13 Indianapolis

Tip 14: Arnage

Standing on the hill you can see the cars coming from Indianapolis to Arnage. You have space and opportunity to pan with the forest in the background. The downside is that there are a lot of marshals running around the track with colorful vests, so try not to get them in your shot as they draw attention.

However, you can take other photos here as well. When entering the Arnage turn, the cars hit the inside of the curb, which can make for cool shots. But if you stand against the fence and photograph through the mesh, you can also capture the cars on their way to the Porsche corners. Here you have trees in the background, which makes for a nice picture. Also, the light here really affects your photos. When it comes through the trees, you get sun rays on the road surface. With this type of shot, it is important to keep an eye on the position of the sun. With backlighting, it becomes very difficult to get nice pictures here.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 14 Arnage

Tip 15: Porsche curves

This point can only be reached through the adjacent campground (as far as I know). Along the whole Porsche curve there is a hill where you can watch the race. This is a fairly long section, so you can see the cars entering and exiting the turn. Getting shots from behind as they exit the turn is difficult, but you have excellent panning opportunities here.

In terms of background, this is not very exciting, so your photos lack atmosphere. I solve this myself by going there in the evening, so the background is not a problem. If you also have a tent on the other side with music and lights, you can use that to show the speed in your photo. Also, unlike during the day, this adds atmosphere to the picture. As far as I am concerned, a fine point if you are in the area, but not to go separately.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 15 Porsche Curves

Tip 16: Corvette corner

Again you have to pass a campsite to get to this point. This used to be a Danish campsite, but I am not sure if this is still the case. Around the campground is a small hill you can walk over. Follow this path until you get to the Corvette corner and see the cars coming out of the Porsche corners. This is a cool spot to watch, but you will need a zoom lens.

Where back shots in the Porsche corners at point 15 were not possible, here they are. However, these pictures do not give much atmosphere and for this kind of photography you better go to the Ford chicane. What you can do here is freeze the images and photograph the cars from the front. Even a little panning is possible here. The latter, of course, ensures that you don’t have tires standing still when you look at the car from the side.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 16 Corvette Corner

Tip 17: Karting

Due to safety concerns, this section has been heavily rebuilt in recent years. You used to be able to touch the tire pile so close to the track, now you are so far away from it. There are also double fences that you have to get through. If you can do that, you will get great pictures. Especially since you are almost at the same height as the cars.

If you can’t get through the fences, there’s always a second option. Behind you is the pit building of the kart track. You can stand on the roof and watch. Of course you can also take pictures here. If you’re short, the fence can be a problem and you’ll need a staircase to keep it out of your photos.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 17 Karting

Tip 18: Ford chicane

The Ford chicane offers a lot of possibilities within a few meters. So does the Ferris wheel that has been here for the last few years. If you go into the Ferris wheel, you can take brilliant pictures of the whole area around the straight up to the top. The cars fly under you at high speed. Freezing the image is the best option here. However, the Ferris wheel is not free, it costs about 5 euros. In my opinion it is worth the money.

You can also stand near the pit lane entrance at the fences. This is where the Ford chicane starts and you can photograph the cars from behind. Not the best place for rear shots, that is a few meters further, but it is good for a change.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 18 Ford Chicane

Tip 19: Ford chicane

In front of the grandstand you can sit on the ground against the fence. There is a small opening through which the ambulances can pass, and that is exactly what you need to take pictures. There is a downside to this, however, as the marshals around this area are also often here and are usually not willing to stop. In addition, press photographers also find this a wonderful place to take pictures, so there is a good chance that people have more right to be there than you as a hobby photographer. All you can do then is wait quietly, because there will always come a time when you have a clear view.

The cars here come through the last part of the Ford chicane, also called Raccordement. Stay low to the ground, freeze your shot and make sure you capture the atmosphere in the background. The pit building provides a perfect fill for the background. Not only is this a great spot to photograph during the day, but at night with all the lights, it is a true spectacle.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 19 Ford Chicane

Tip 20: Ford chicane

The last point on the la Sarthe circuit when it comes to photo locations. It is always incredibly busy here because it is an incredibly cool point to watch. You have to deal with double fences here, but even that doesn’t have to be a problem. You can just shoot through the first fence you’re up against. Then comes the second fence, and this one is a challenge. In this fence there are special photo holes for press photographers, but of course they are not always there. When they are not there, you can just shoot through it.

What you have to take into account is the limited space you have left because this hole is small. You can’t always see in your photo that there’s only an edge of the fence on it, and it’s a shame when you get home and see that there’s a blur over the car, or you have a grid with all the dashes. So take a test photo, look at it on your camera, and zoom in a lot to see if you have the right position.

Map Circuit La Sarthe Photo Location 20 Ford Chicane

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