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I am new to using a DSLR and still have a lot to learn. I go to a lot of car races and want to know what I need to do to get the best pictures when my target is going 220 mph. I have a D40 with the 18-55 kit lens and I have a 55-200 VR...

Comments (20)

Try using a fast shutter speed and panning. When the car comes into the frame move the camera in a smooth fluid motion with the car while pressing the shutter release..

Stevehttp://vette74.smugmug.com..

Comment #1

As Steve explains, use the camera as an extension of your eye while watching the race. When you normally watch the cars race by you don't just stop looking as they pass but you continue to follow them by turning your head..

When you photograph them don't keep stilll but follow them with the viewfinder by keeping pace with the subject. Even once the shutter is pressed keep up with the follow thru. The back ground will be blurred but with practice the cars will be caught..

If you can get in a location where the cars are coming towards you it makes it easier to get good results as you can pick a spot on the track to pre focus on and when the cars arrive shoot away..

Kodak Ultra with real glass lens..

Comment #2

If you are taking photos when your subject is hitting 220mph, you are not picking the correct timing and place on the track..

Even for NASCAR and INDY/F1 types, when cornering are significantly slower than this..

As mentioned above, try panning - start at about 1/125 (at 300mm on the lens - 450 equiv) - pick Nikon equivalent - I use canon gear, take several shots while following the path (expected) of the car through the corner or along the straight.. if it is approaching dead on, it will challenge your camera's AF, so you might want to MF! In bright conditions you may need to stop down beyond best sharpness or use an ND filter to slow your shutter speed to what you need - depending on speed and distance and FL, you may need slower than 1/125.. or you may need faster... experiment!.

If you can get a photographer's pass, go for it.. I have only shot some SCCA endurance racing for some friends but it turned out very well, even with consumer gear. (and their speeds were much slower than 220mph - peak on the front straight in Portland was about 150!.

Cheers,S.**My XT IS Full Frame APS-C/FF of course!*****So is my 5D 35mm/FF**..

Comment #3

Thanks for the tips. At Indy, the cars are over 220 even in the corners. The speed is insane. You should try to make it sometime. I have lived by the track my whole life and have always wanted good pics but my old P&S wouldn't cut it...

Comment #4

You didn't make it clear in your original post that it would be at the Brickyard...

There, yes, that kind of speed even in the corners...

Unless on a pro body, your AF will not likely be able to keep up unless the cars are crossing - if they are approaching you, MF will be the only way to keep up..

You might need more than 300mm, as well - and that gets into a whole specialized breed of lens..

I will revise my SS suggestion upwards - 1/500s woul be a minimum to get reasonably sharp shots...

While I have visited Daytona (not during racing), I am unfortunately unlikely to get to Indy - I live on the west coast....

Cheers,S.**My XT IS Full Frame APS-C/FF of course!*****So is my 5D 35mm/FF**..

Comment #5

I usually use MF anyways. Panning shouldn't be to hard unless I am very close to the track. Thanks for the help...

Comment #6

Not the most photographer friendly track.... at least for the oval. The sight lines are such that the best unobstructed views tend to be high up and far from the track, requiring very long lenses - even 500mm can be short. I'm sure you're familiar enough with the track to know what you see from various parts of the track. The most important thing for good shots is location. Someplace where you're not shooting through fence, and you have room to follow the cars.

E-Penthouse will give you the best photo ops with no need for a long lens, and with a long lens you can get really close. Something like the Paddock Penthouse, while up high, is difficult to shoot from as you are almost too much right on top of the cars - unless you are in the front row, I don't recommend Paddock or A stand Penthouse... unless you want to focus on pit shots. Worst places to shoot would be Stand H, Stand C, Paddock (Lower level), Stand A and B (Lower level). For the 500 I sit in J, up near the top and can get some shots of the cars in turn 4 without fence obstruction..

First shot, from tower terrace, 200mm, second from E Penthouse 420mm, third from stand J 420mm.

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Peavyt15 wrote:.

I usually use MF anyways. Panning shouldn't be to hard unless I amvery close to the track. Thanks for the help..

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Even if you can't donate, please help spread the word...

Comment #7

Thanks. I was looking into tower terrace. I also worked there for a few years so I might be able to get lucky and get a press pass so I could get trackside. I don't own a lens longer than 200 but I think a good family friend uses a Nikon and will let me borrow a lens if I need it. Thanks for the advice...

Comment #8

Peavyt15 wrote:.

Thanks. I was looking into tower terrace. I also worked there for afew years so I might be able to get lucky and get a press pass so Icould get trackside. I don't own a lens longer than 200 but I think agood family friend uses a Nikon and will let me borrow a lens if ineed it. Thanks for the advice..

Good advice here in the previous posts. I'd like to add a few small, and probably obvious, tips..

When in doubt, "shoot big", ... by which I mean shoot expecting to crop a bit. That's better than attempting to get the perfect compostion while also trying to get everything into the frame at speed..

Position your body and feet so that you are in the most comfortable and solid position at the point where you will actually shoot the shot, and then turn your upper body to catch the car and follow it into the target spot. As others have said, make sure you follow through as you pull the trigger. Many shooters unconsciously stop the camera as they push the button. Not good..

Pick one area of the car for best focus and stick with it. Sometimes it might be the driver's helmet, the closest wheel area, whatever. Look for an area with a lot of vertical, rather than horizontal contrasting colors or tones, since most focus systems "like" verticals..

If you're using manual, you'll want to pre-pick a spot on the track, or something at equal distance, to set focus..

This shot is a cheater, since I positioned myself nearly head-on, at a slow corner..

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'If they're not screaming at you to get out of the way, you're not close enough' http://www.ChuckLantz.com..

Comment #9

Thanks for the tips. I really can't wait to get out there and shoot the cars. It is something I have always wanted to do but even a good P&S can't do it very well...

Comment #10

My D40 should do the trick though. (meant to put that in above)..

Comment #11

I purchased a d-40 to use when my D2H was in the shop for the meter failure issue. I do not have any photos from the Month of May with it, but I did use it at the Brickyard. This was with the 70-200 2.8.

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Now, I did have a bit of an adjustment to make going from 8 frames a sec shooting to 1.5 I think it is, but it worked just fine. Im pulling my hair out with all this racing going on around us here in Indy, but May is just one month away! (and my kart racing begins at the end of this month) I look forward to seeing some of your work at the 500.James..

Comment #12

All great advice. But also, just like your golf swing, remember the FOLLOW THROUGH!!Happy shooting!Steve..

Comment #13

I can't wait to get out there. I have great seats for the MotoGP too which should have some great stuff to shoot...

Comment #14

Here are some shots from my first day..

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/tommypops/sets/72157604900775664/..

Comment #15

For my taste, the shots seem a little overexposed/washed out, but nice work!keep practicing!S.**My XT IS Full Frame APS-C/FF of course!*****So is my 5D 35mm/FF**..

Comment #16

Yea. I agree but I am pretty pleased for a first day out...

Comment #17

Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #18

If you are panning with the car, this is of less importance, but if you want to stop the action by having a higher shutter speed, you might want to raise the ISO setting. I set my camera to shutter priority, and forgot all about the ISO, which was defaulted to 100, when I needed to have it set to more like 400, so I could up the shutter speed, stop the action better and maintain a deeper depth of field..

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Comment #19

Here are some from day 2. They are the last 6 in the list..

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/tommypops/sets/72157604900775664/..

Comment #20

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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