Meet the Tog - SJN Photography

Meet the Tog

Tim Penstone-Smith -  What started your bizarre fascination with standing track side in all weather's?


It all started when I was growing up, I would watch F1 with my Dad, still remember the 1998 Spa crash as if it were yesterday. We then went to my first BTCC race in 2003 which I loved, we returned a year later. I then studied photography at A level which led me to loving having a camera in my hand. We then returned to Snetterton in 2013 to watch BTCC, this is where Dad met up with his friend. He then invited us along to the 750 Motor Club meeting at Snetterton to watch Martin in the Clio 182 series. My first experience of 750 Motor Club, it must of been good as we went to Cadwell that year as well, my first track away from ‘home’. The rest is history as they say :D, the following year saw us visit 6 different tracks and I was hoked. Four years later I now stand out in all weathers (must be mad) and try and avoid gravel being thrown at me to capture the wonderful moments this club has to offer.


Mark Burton -  What’s your favourite 750mc formula to watch and photo?


If my camera was took away from me and I watched the racing instead, My favourite series to watch would be Locost or Clio 182s. I always struggle to keep up with whats happening when I photograph and the lead changes numerous times in Locost. I would like to watch how it all pans out in a race. As i’m usually standing with my camera only focusing on one corner. The Clios are good to watch as well as they are quite unpredictable with overtaking manoeuvres.


Marcus Ward -  Do you ever think about jumping in the drivers seat and trying racing?


All the time! I would love to have a go one day. After being driven round Silverstone national by Martin Ward in the Clio Cup car last year, I do have complete new respect for racing drivers, of how aggressive you have to be with a race car. I felt like we were doing an emergency stop on the brakes going into Luffied yet we were still going fast! It also opened my eyes into how much you notice everything going that fast, I managed to spot media, pit boards. Now I know why you can spot me when your driving :p


Ben Powney - Who’s the unluckiest driver you’ve seen?


This year it has to be Ryan Polley. Ryan never seems to have any luck in testing something always seems to happen with the car. Also at Rockingham several engine changes and problems in one weekend was a disaster.


Marcus Ward -  Why don’t you wave at me EVERY lap?


I would love to wave at you every lap, but that would mean sacrificing any good pictures of you ;) I get enough evidence of you waving back and on a cool down lap I may even get the evidence to prove it.


Michael Gadd -  What’s your favourite race series to photograph?


Favourite series to photograph, really tricky to decide between them all. I would probably say the Classic Stock Hatch and Clios there are usually plenty of two or three wheel action involved. The Locost are a great challenge to photograph as there are usually 40+ cars on the grid its incredibly difficult to get photos of everyone. Formula Vee are quite good as well, especially the drivers who wear clear visors you can really see the concentration.

Adam Lines -  Who is the nicest person you have met, whilst you have been photographing motorsport events ;)


Everyone! Unbelievable how welcoming a motorsport family are. People I have never met offering me cups of tea in the freezing cold at Donington (thank you Gavin). Everyone all looks after you whether its hot, cold, raining and snowing. Oh and the photographers aren’t bad either ;)

Garry Emm -  I notice from some of your other posts that you are very nature conscious too and have taken some great shots of rare, strange and exotic wildlife.........are they ok with this in the Locost paddock or would they prefer you concentrated more on the cars than the drivers?


Haha I’m sure they are fine with that, they better watch out at Cadwell as I may be in the assembly area.


James Gahagan - Whats your favourite type of shot to take? Action, moody, scenic, etc.  


Thats such a tough question! Action shots are usually the most dramatic when caught at the right time. They are so satisfying when you look back and see you caught the moment and its in focus. Panning shots are great when you get them spot on. You push yourself throughout the session to get lower and lower shutter speeds and its fantastic when you pull one off!


Garry Emm - What criteria dictate where you set up around the track? Is it where you will be best positioned to hopefully capture-the most aesthetically pleasing photos or where there are more likely to be thrills & spills?


Great question, I usually plan about a week before roughly were I’m going to stand. Usually the timetable dictates to a certain extent of where I go first. Also the sun has a major factor, Ideally the sun needs to be behind you. I will try and pick a mixture of both, usually qualifying for the aesthetics and then maybe the races for more action shots. You just need a bit of luck with action as it always seems to happen at the opposite end of the track!


James Gahagan - Whats your favourite photo you have ever taken? And why?


Another tough question! I can’t choose a favourite its to difficult, can I have three? The first being Scott Sharp in the Clio last year at Donington. Standing at the last chicane I noticed a few drivers hitting the first kerb, and a few getting it wrong on the second part. Scott however caught me completely by surprise, I was just going for a ‘normal’ shot when he launched off the kerb. How he didn’t roll i’ll never know, I’m very grateful he didn’t as I was in the firing line! This shot went viral on Instagram and Facebook with well over 3.5k likes in total.


The second was a Brands Hatch this year. In the Hot Hatch race, It was half way through the race and I thought I would try some panning shots. Using a slow shutter speed I began to snap away, I saw a car go off in front of me and head further down the track. Behind however it all happened so quickly, one car went off and another two followed. I still don’t know to this day how I managed to capture it in focus. I think the slow shutter speed adds to the drama of the shot and shows an essence of speed.


Lastly a shot from Brands last year. With this event being the first time I saw the Clio 182s last year, I made sure to capture every angle. Just peering over the barrier at Graham Hill Bend I had practised getting a shot of the cars going away from me and including the background of the Brands Hatch buildings. James came around the corner and everything just clicked. The shot is in focus and I love the colours in the shot and the background tells you where this shot was taken.


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