Who AM I
I’m a World Rally Championship addicted photographer based in the beautiful region Allgäu in South Germany. I have been photographing 19 WRC rallies in the last eleven years, and let me tell you, it’s still incredibly awesome.
Rally motorsport, especially the WRC, is just the best out there. Through visiting a WRC run you get to travel to regions where you would often never travel normally. At every rally there’s always that one moment where I’m driving on a narrow remote road – mostly at night, through gorges or up mountains, through an ancient mountain village and I always think: Hell yeah, that’s what it’s about. I love the WRC.
Visiting a WRC rally means absurdly long, stressful days. It is by no means physically relaxing. A lot of times you have to get up before six in the morning, drive about an hour through the night on small side roads, and then park your car on a tiny crammed road where lots of other crazy fellows like you try to get as close to the special stage as you. Depending on the weather you then pack up all your stuff and carry your ridiculously heavy backpack to the stage. In terms of weather there’s everything from freezing -10 degrees in Monte Carlo up to +35 degrees on Sardinia. You definitely have to be prepared.
If you’re too late you may have to walk another 5+ kilometers before you even reach the stage. As you’re an ambitious photographer reaching the stage is only the first step. Now you face the task of finding several interesting spots to take your shots. Mostly this is not the place where you’re at right now. So you walk up and down hills, through muddy forests and thorn trees, scratch up your arms and legs and sweat blood and tears.
On the first day and first stage of every rally I think: Man, why do I even do this? But then you arrive at your desired spot. You remove your backpack, dry your sweat, sit down and enjoy the atmosphere and the scenery. Then you’re happy and you get a deep feeling of relaxation. It is incredibly satisfying. After the first WRC car passed you are hooked. These guys are just crazy, driving like hell on these small roads. And sometimes you’re so close that you can feel the wind blast of the cars. This is rally, this is what I love.
CAMERA & LENSES
Since August 2010 I’m using a Canon EOS 7D at every rally I visited, before that I had a Canon EOS 40D. I never thought about a different camera. At the moment I can’t imagine a better camera for motorsports. It is robust, weatherproof and very fast. I have used it in the worst conditions imaginable. In freezing cold Iceland, pouring rain, in the dusty hell of Sardinia and in almost 50 degrees heat in Death Valley and in Outback Australia. It was so hot, that you couldn’t even touch the black case anymore. But the camera still worked.
As I also do lots of travelling beside the rallies I use an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II for all of my other photos. The Olympus is just an absolutely brilliant camera. It’s small, light-weight and takes incredibly sharp pictures. I also use it at rallies for ultra wide angle shots where I don’t need a fast AF. Excluding the auto focus the Olympus can do everything as good or even better than the Canon. Shooting portraits with the Olympus is a pleasure as it automatically focuses on the eyes of your subject. This has been very handy for taking photos of the drivers and team bosses in front of the Hôtel De Paris on Rallye Monte Carlo 2016.
Depending on the rally I mostly use a Canon 70-200 f2.8L or a Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L. As wide angle lens I carry a Canon 16-35 f/2.8L since Monte-Carlo 2016. Before that I used a Canon 17-55 f/2.8. When it’s possible to get really close I also take pictures with an Ennex 8mm Fisheye, which allows for really crazy angles. For the Olympus I have the brilliant Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8 portrait lens, the wider Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 pancake and the ultra wide angle Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6. All of them being razor sharp even at 100% crop and no additional editing in Lightroom.