Motor cycle racing photography.
My fave subject and one which has taken a while to absorb. There are many things to consider before shooting, 1st, where to position yourself. I've found that it pays to get as close as you can to the track so that the bikes FILL YOUR VIEWFINDER. No good being too far and then having to crop later, lost pixels don't make a sharp pic. 2nd, what do you want to show in your pic?, if you want bikes leaning almost to the floor then find a sharp bend where you can get close. Shoot as the rider is close enough to see his eyes for impact. 3rd, if you feel bold enough for side-on shots as the bikes fly past at well over 100mph, then find a straight part of the circuit. Here is where you will need to hone your skills at panning with the bike and shooting at the same time. Try many dummy runs without taking any pics, it will pay off. 4th, choose a shutter speed of at least 750sec or higher if you're panning and use predictive autofocus. You might have to choose a higher ISO like 500, or 800, it depends to some extent on the available light, if it's a sunny day then you're ok. Remember my golden rule which I've found works well for me; always make sure that your subject FILLS YOUR VIEWFINDER.
To be at the trackside as the bikes roar past is truly exhillerating, and the smell of Castrol R is sheer perfume to me as it drifts from the exhaust smoke. Many of my pics show even the heat waves from the exhaust pipes as the bikes fly past. Go on, enjoy it!!!.
Motorcycle Race Photography
Interesting reading but you digital guys have it very easy..In the late 80's early 90's I produced cracking race pictures, unpaid, for the Crawley Observer..My payment being that valued press pass and the opportunity to work and learn the craft with professionals. My subject was the late great Irish racer Mark Farmer who died at the IOM TT in 1994. I didn't have any fancy gear, Nikon F301 with Sigma 400 5.6 or 75/300 zoom, on very wet days I resorted to a Practica LTL with an old battered 300 glass and metal lens that weighed a ton. Film of choice was Ilford FP5 or XP2 on very bright days Fuji 50asa Slide film, which I still use for best results today.
Race photography is all about positioning, know your circuit, walk it, talk to the riders and for best info the track marshalls, let them know what you would like to do and obey all their advice, it is dangerous out there. Don't forget to note the weather forecast and where the sun, if you are lucky, will be for each race..this is very important..Learn to pan smoothly and practice, you should be able to pan a bike moving at speed at 125 or even 80 speed camera setting. Inside bends at right angle to forward position with sun behind you is best..Ensure your camera Flash is not firing or you will get fired from the circuit. Do not use very high shutter speeds or you will freeze everything including the wheels and background rush. Going away shots are the most difficult to master you will generally need higher speed and smaller aperture for max depth of field. I could prattle on forever, it is still in my blood, great days..Please look at my Kerb Crawling pictures in action gallery..Happy, safe racing.....David
Hi David. What great experiences you relate and this tells us that you have done it all with a thorough knowledge of subject, which as you say, is vital. Like you I was brought up on film and still have my cameras which are now mothballed in a cupboard. I try and implement all the tactics you mentioned and it does work. In my youth I was priveleged to watch riders like Bob Mcintyre, who sadly was killed at Oulton Park while I was there, and there were other legends like Mike Hailwood, Barry Sheene, and I could go on but space does not permit. I think you and I could swap some great tales David. Nice to hear from you. All the best.
'The smell of Castrol R', how that stirs the memory! Back to the days of Black and White 35mm film infield photographs at a number of midland speedway tracks during the 70's and 80's!
Sadly, like the 35mm camera the addictive aroma has all but vanished from the technically advanced speedway machines of the present day, but thanks for the memories. I suspect that in the not too distant future the days of the stadium infield photographer may also soon be gone, ever increasing H & S involvement has almost killed the art at FIM/FIA short track events, I guess it will only be a matter of time before it filters down to local stadiums as well.