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« Nikonians Photo Professors #5 |Main| Deadlines near on Nikonians Academy NJ workshop and Double-Park Special »

May 9, 2012

Shooting Motorsport

I do consider myself as a good marriage material. I am kind, understanding, I keep telling girls they don't look fat and patiently wait in a shoe store while my better half is trying 27th pair of shoes. The eye contact with the fellow sufferer is priceless. I am not that fat, I don't drink that much and I gave up smoking, shall we say quite successfully, more than a year ago. And now the best bit, I love cooking. As I've said, the dream. So what are the cons to all this? 

Nothing. Well, nothing but a bit of patience form my wife-to-be every other Sunday afternoon while Formula 1 race is on. And on Saturday for qualifying session. And MotoGP. And WRC. And BTCC. And so on... The weird thing is, I still don't have a wife. Maybe I should do some life  revaluation, but about that later...

So of course as a big motorsport and photography lover, I did what needed to be done, I went to the racetrack with my camera. And boy oh boy, was I ready for that slaughter? No I wasn't, I left speechless. There were big guys with big cameras and even bigger lenses. Well at least something, I had 100 - 400mm lens, so I wouldn't be immediately recognised as a first timer. I've placed myself at the edge of the action-hungry photography gang and opened my ears for some hints. And than it came... "How did you get this shot?" "Well, I've got this great camera, I've just let it show what it can do on auto." Wait a moment, what? An AUTO? Someone must be kidding here and I had a feeling it wasn't me...

I left an auto guys to their talks about what's the world's fastest camera processor and how great it is to have a million mega pixels rather than nine hundred and ninety nine thousands... Yep. For me, M is for magic, so let's set the camera up.

First thing first, the exposure. In motorsport, the most important is your shutter speed. You want to get this right, because you want those nice panning pictures. Without being too technical, this depends on how fast the cars are and how far away you are from them. From spectators distance from 1/250 sec to 1/125 sec will do the trick. In sunny, or partly cloudy conditions f11 and ISO 100 or 200 is a good company to that shutter. You can always adjust it depending on how happy you are with the result.

FIA GT3, Silverstone, ISO 100, f11, 1/160s
bmw panning.jpg
Secondly, the focusing. Set your camera to auto focus, than select your AF point. I know new cameras have got like a hundred of them, but all you really need is one. Usually the middle one, because usually it is the strongest one, so it should be able to track your subject and keep it in focus. Oh, regarding auto focus, set it to servo mode, so it can really track your subject. And set continuous shooting of course.
ISO 100, f11, 1/250s
formula 3.jpg
I always shoot motorsport on JPEG. It's easier for my camera and card to take, it saves lots of space on memory card and I can't be bothered to process so many RAWs. If you can adjust your JPEG outcome in your camera, give it more contrast, sharpness and saturation and you can walk away with very little post process to do. And that's it regarding the camera setting. I bet the auto guys wouldn't believe it's that simple, but trust me. Technique and luck is more important. For post process I use Lightroom's batch processing ability and I crop some pictures. 

OK, now it's time to get creative. You can do panning, panning and zooming, long panning with slower shutter speed to create abstract shots, moving and tilting the horizon, zoom in really close, or just simply freeze the car in the corner. You'll shoot hundreds of pictures, and majority of them would the trash, so stack up on memory cards, or get a big one. After all day shooting you be getting quite impressive results. You spend time outside, so it's also healthy. I bet you, if you'll carry your equipment all day long around the circuit and next day somebody tell you photography is an easy job, you would punch him into his face. It a good exercise, you might loose few pounds, so your wife won't be that mad at you.

ford.jpg aston.jpg Porsche.jpg
lambo.jpg bmw.jpg vette.jpg
f430.jpg lamborghini.jpg seat.jpg

Posted by pkuzmin at May 9, 2012 11:05 PM