Tips at track shooting - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Tips at track shooting

Going up to Road America this weekend and I am gonna have the wifey shoot pics. I have a D200(just got it cleaned) and a sigma 70-200 2.8 II HSM, also have a 2x teleconvertor. She will be shooting from a monopod. Saturday is supposed to be nice and sunny so it should be a good chance to take some pictures. She won't be allowed on the track like the pro photorgraphers so everything will be taken from farther away. I apreciate any help but sensor setting along with max of ISO and some general shutter speed/f-stops tips would really help out. She has taken some nice pics at BHF but not as crisp as I think the setup can do.

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 01:49 PM
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Far from a digi camera expert, but she can get pretty close at the "bend", and it's slow with plenty of motion.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 02:03 PM
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ISO's anywhere between 200-400 if sunny. Shutterspeed and f-stop, well thats a personal preference. Some like some sense of movement, some like to stop everything. May just want to use S-mode and let the camera deal with aperture.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YZFRob View Post
May just want to use S-mode and let the camera deal with aperture.
S-mode is what I have been shooting at the track so far. Seems to work well. I saw online some site said if you are shooting at 200mm then you should set your shutter speed at 200 to make getting crisper pictures easier ..... Is this good advice to follow???

I do understand that the balance between shutter speed and f-stop can cause the bike to be frozen in time or show the rims spun suggesting movement but I am lookin to get crisper pictures. Is it more about tracking the bike on the track or setup of the camera that makes crisp pics?

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spooner427 View Post
S-mode is what I have been shooting at the track so far. Seems to work well. I saw online some site said if you are shooting at 200mm then you should set your shutter speed at 200 to make getting crisper pictures easier ..... Is this good advice to follow???

I do understand that the balance between shutter speed and f-stop can cause the bike to be frozen in time or show the rims spun suggesting movement but I am lookin to get crisper pictures. Is it more about tracking the bike on the track or setup of the camera that makes crisp pics?
That 200 at 200 is old skool and very misleading. Too many variables to make that a valid rule of thumb. Skip it and forget it.

The faster the shutter speed, the better chance of sharp image....*IF* there is light enough to properly expose the image. The reason being...YOU. If you or the subject moves while the shutter is open, you'll get a blurred image. So the shorter the shutter is open, the better chance you catch a sharp image...again, IF there is enough light for whatever shutter speed you pick.

The flip side to this is that most sports photographers want a hint of blur to the image to give the feel of motion. Otherwise a bike frozen looks like it's about to fall over (mental illusion). So a hint of blur to the wheels (which are going way faster then the bike) gives you that sense of motion.

As for tracking the bike, watch what the pros do. They use the monopod, and smoothly track the bike as it passest, moving ONLY in the direction the bike is. No up, down, or front to back, just left to right.

The trick to tracking....is simply practice. I've practiced on cars passing on a busy road to get ready for track shooting. It will also help you get a feel for what shutter speeds work to give a sense of motion.

As for getting the shutter speed right, that's all guess and test till you get a feel for it. Set the shutter speed at...I don't know, 1/200, take a shot and zoom in on the LCD and see if it looks sharp and the wheels look like they are spinning (or whatever look you want). After a while you'll get a feel that when a moving subject is going about XX MPH, then 1/XXX shutter speed at ISO 400 looks the way you want.

It's an art, and I highly respect the guys that do this for a living.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 03:28 PM
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So it sounds as if Eric covered all the bases. Get as close as possible, try to shoot as someone is coming AT you, vs. left to right and it will be much easier to catch the rider in the middle of the frame.

When I shoot at the track, I start at 400 shutter and as I get warmed up and tracking better, I step down until I can't keep the rider in frame anymore. Many of the top shooters can track, frame and nail the shot at 125.

I shot at Iowa Speedway this wekend and 200 provided plenty of crisp and still had spoke blur.

Tracking is all about time and practice, use a monopod to make it ONLY left right or right left as the tracking requires. There are TONS of close shot opportunities at RA, so no excuses there about not being close enough to shoot 200mm.

DO NOT use the teleconverter unless you have to. It cuts the light available in half (doubling you f-stop). If there is enough light, you might experiment with it, but it needs to be VERY bright out.

Finally, experiment with manual focus. Set the distance to the apex in the viewframe at a crisp focus, and then shoot in that spot everytime as you track the bike. No waiting for the focus to engage.

F-stop - The lower the number the shorter the focus are is. SO... I shoot at 2.8 as often as possible so that the target is crisp, and everything else is blurred. harder to shoot, but makes for nice shots.

ISO - the lower the number the less grainy the image, especially when you zoom in or blow it up. Keep the number as low as you can and still accomplish your other goals. I would guess D200 starts to shred images at 1200-1600, I wold look at http://www.dpreview.com for the exact numbers. Keep it at 400 or lower if you can. if you have GREAT lighting, shoot at 20 or even 100.

Finally, these are all really basic questions. Send your wife to Wolf Camera for a camera class on speed, aperture and ISO.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 03:43 PM
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this is kind of what you don't want....



iso 250
1/349
f/5.7
partly cloudy day

this is what I prefer from a better looking track shot.



iso250
1/100
f/4.9
same day.

first pic was ~50mph, second was ~90mph to give you an idea. both were hand held, thus the clarity isn't spot on in the second. i was hanging over the fence. sorry, they're not bikes, but you get the idea.

actually this one is a little better...



iso100
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f/4.8
cloudy and handheld

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 03:50 PM
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Easy shot.. no tracking just timing:




Hard shot... all tracking and timing:



Note the spokes shot at 200, and the blur at 2.8.

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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Wink I like that top shot. I think it might have looked nicer at something like f/16 to get both riders more in focus maybe?
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 04:12 PM
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I had shot with both in focus and just one in focus. When it was a twosome, I switched it up as you suggested. Bad news was that even the front guy should have been crisper, but I forgot to take my classes with me when I was shooting.

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Alot of good info here. Is it possibly if the bike is coming at you thru a corner that the riders head will be crisp but the tail of the bike blurred a bit because you are shooting at 2.8? In that case you should change the f-stop maybe to 4 to try and get the whole subject crisp??

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-2008, 08:51 PM
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Wink, it looks like you're still shooting with the 7D?

I thought you were looking at the D3 or D300. Wen does you gonna upgrade?

Spooner, there is some math you can do (or charts to look up) that will tell you how many inches/feet your plane of focus will be at a specific F/stop, at a specific distance, with a specific focal length. You can either consult a chart and see if f/4 will cover a whole bike at whatever distance your shooting, or just shoot it and see (assuming there is enough light).

Again, with practice you'll instinctivly know what F/stop will give you the look you're looking for.

FYI, wider lenses have larger plane of focus at a given distance than a telephoto at the same distance. Just something to keep in mind in case you have the option to shoot at 70 or 200 and are looking for depth of field.

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2008, 09:59 AM

 
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Here are some of my first track photos. This is using Wink's gear. I was using 1/2000th of a second. I wasn't located in the right place for where the sun was. But you can see how crisp these images are. The shutter speed didn't allow any blurring of the background. You can actually see through the rotors!



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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2008, 10:03 AM
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That second one would be awesome if you could see yourself in his visor!

Good shots Greg!

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2008, 10:21 AM
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Go where the light is. You want the sun to light up the side of the bike you're shooting. Inside of T6, T8, T13 (if you can get close enough), coming out of the Snap-On bridge, outside of T1 (good luck getting there, but there's a hole in the fence) can be good in the morning. Outside of T6, Inside T5, inside of the carousel and bend later in the day. There are thousands of great places to shoot at RA. But it can be hard to get to good spots without access.

If you shoot shutter priority watch that you're not over/under exposing. Aperature priority can be safer. Panning side shots, try shutter speed around 500/s and go slower from there. Head on shots, try 1000-1500.

Set focus to continuous or manual.

If it's dark, add exposure compensation.

Last edited by Jack; 07-02-2008 at 10:25 AM.
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2008, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the good tips and shootin places jack. hopefully I will have some good shots when I get back to post up.

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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2008, 05:49 PM
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Jack's shots are among the best I have ever seen. He always shot from great positions as well, esp at RA.

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-03-2008, 06:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spooner427 View Post
Thanks for all the good tips and shootin places jack. hopefully I will have some good shots when I get back to post up.
No problem. Have fun!!!

I saw bikes heading to RA on the way to work yesterday and bikes coming back on the way home. I sure miss the track!




And thanks Wink!!!
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-03-2008, 12:45 PM
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One of my favorite track shots I have ever seen:



You can get the story for this shot by Sando and others at the http://stunningnikon.com/challenge site. Click on Sando to get to this one.

And yes, I shot a ton with a D300 and a D3 this year. The D3 is phenomenal!!

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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2008, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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I want to thank everyone for the tips that were given for shooting at the track. It was a great weekend with some great weather. I have some 600 pics to sort thru which will take some time but here is a great pic my wife took at the track of me. She was nerding it up with one of the pro camera guys who was also trying to help her take shots. Here is a link to the uncompressed shot http://www.flickr.com/photos/1482587...92331/sizes/l/

P.S. I know in this pic the sun is on the wrong side but I love the shadow
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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2008, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
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You can get the story for this shot by Sando and others at the http://stunningnikon.com/challenge site. Click on Sando to get to this one.

And yes, I shot a ton with a D300 and a D3 this year. The D3 is phenomenal!!
Regarding that photo challenge site, I met James Balog up in Alaska a few weeks back. I was kayaking at Columbia Glacier and he and some other National Geographic photo/videographers where in the area; we shared the same boat back into Valdez and I got an opportunity to shoot some wildlife (Otter rafts) with them. Was pretty friggen cool.

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