ADVICE NEEDED - Nighttime race

Discussion in 'Photojournalism & Sports Gallery' started by Ripskip, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. Ripskip

    Ripskip TPF Noob!

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    I have the opportunity to go shoot the first ever Motocross National to be held at night, under the lights in Lakewood, CO.

    I am relatively new to photography and have been studying hard to learn the relationship between aperture, ISO, shutter speed etc and how to manipulate them to the best possible outcome. I am currently shooting a Nikon D70 with a Nikkor 55-200 f/4.5-5.6 VR lens.

    Now, I can forsee this nighttime race presenting quite a photographic challenge. Fast motion, relatively low light, and the long end of the zoom range. I am trying to scrounge up the funds for a 70-200 f/2.8 before next week but i'm not sure it's going to happen. Any advice? I would think an external flash would certainly be of assistance, along with the 2.8 lens if I could come up with it in time. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
     
  2. saltface

    saltface TPF Noob!

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    For sure the faster the glass the better for this situation. If you're going to be shooting at telephoto ranges, are you sure your flash will reach?
     
  3. Ripskip

    Ripskip TPF Noob!

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    No, i'm really not sure. I haven't shot an external flash before, so I don't know what type of range to expect. I'll try to dig up some examples of shots from indoor night time races so you guys can get a rough idea of what it would be like.
     
  4. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    if you're shooting at 200mm, I really doubt a speedlight is going to do much good at the distances that you're probably going to be at.

    You can get 80-200 f2.8 AF-D's off craigslist for usually about $500-$600 and brand new for $800. Now their screwdriver lenses so the AF-C focusing isn't really the best, but if you keep it in AF-S and just tap the shutter when you're getting ready to take the shot, the focus will nail it everytime and it should be fast enough.

    Also bring a tripod so you can pan while you do this, your shutter speeds are going to be really slow, even at f/2.8, so if you pan them, the cars will still look ok, and they'll look like they're moving.
     
  5. Ripskip

    Ripskip TPF Noob!

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    i'm on the lookout for a 70-200 f/2.8, but haven't come up with much yet. Better check some surrounding cities on craigslist!

    From what I have been told (for moto) a speedlight should reach to 30-40 feet. I have a media credential, so I can get virtually anywhere on the track and can get pretty close. I don't want to blind the riders though!
     
  6. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Are you getting paid for this then?

    I just think that if you bring a flash, you might be ending up with xeroxing it like this:

    [​IMG]


    If you're going to use flash, do yourself a favor and do a rear-curtain sync, or turn off the speedlight and pan it with the available, that way, you also get the ambiance that everyone else see's when they're there in person.
     
  7. Ripskip

    Ripskip TPF Noob!

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    great info, thanks sw1tch. I work in the motocross industry, so I was able to pull some strings to get in. I'm not getting paid for the trip - however I am combining it with a work trip so it doesn't cost me anything out of pocket. On top of that - I may be able to sell some of these photos to the magazines if they turn out.

    any recommendations on the flash? I'm going to a night race this weekend to get some practice shooting at night. I don't want my photos to turn out like the one above.
     
  8. Ptyler22

    Ptyler22 TPF Noob!

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    stand under a light?
     
  9. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    You can also just rent a lens...
    Then you would be able to use some professional glass.
     
  10. motorshooter

    motorshooter TPF Noob!

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    Use a fast lens and learn to use your flash correctly, too much flash and you'll burn the image, too little and it'll be lit too dimly.

    Here are a couple of night shots I did
    [​IMG]
    Pit stop for Scott Dixon and team Target, Richmond June 2008
    [​IMG]
    Daytona night race for the Rolex series. I slowed the shutter and panned with the Porsche to get the graphics to light up and trail off.
    Light streaks in the back ground are track lights. It makes for a great effect.
    [​IMG]
    ALMS race Rd, Atl. This was shot on film and was hard image to get. The Vette is shot at dusk as it runs down to turn six and the drive stands on the brakes causing the red glow in the front rotor. This was a panning shot and a dedicated use of a soft flash.
    [​IMG]
    Early morning practice at Rd. Atl. Dark gloomy morning with rain and fog.
    head on shot with a 70-200 2.8 lens and the flash was set on ETTL.

    You have to practice, practice, practice to learn how to achive the balanced look with a low light or night image. You also have to use a fast lens 1.8-2.8 is great after that you start to degrade the quality of the image and it will take on a "tunnel" effect with light...and that is not good. It's not just the lens, you need to know your F-stops and shutter speeds...it all comes with practice.

    Even during the day a flash is effective for fill and balance. It will also help bring out colors you didn't see before.

    Hope this helps
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2008
  11. Ripskip

    Ripskip TPF Noob!

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    wow, thanks for all of the advice motorshooter. After shooting this night race, I just put my Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S on order. Practice makes perfect, but I think this was a pretty good start.

    Go to the bottom of this thread to check out some photos of the event.

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=125568
     
  12. motorshooter

    motorshooter TPF Noob!

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    You shot well, young grass hopper:lol: You have a great grasp on the action, now look for the backgrounds that will give you color, a crowd shot with the rider and bike overhead hanging in the air always gives a great "WOW" factor;)
     

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