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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> MotoCross Photography
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06/28/2008 06:26:44 PM · #1
I have been asked to take photos at the next Motocross (dirtbike)meet next weekend. I have never done this sort of photography and am wondering if those that are experienced in photographing action sports could give me heaps of tips and tricks. Any advice would be great, from camera settings to "dont forget to take....". It will be a full day starting at 9am and going till the afternoon. I have full and unrestricted access in order to take these photos. Thanks for any advice given.
06/28/2008 06:31:57 PM · #2
Look for the best spots around the field that give you good angles on more than one corner or jump, if you know what I mean. Do a few test shots of those angles to see what your lighting capabilites are....in high sun you are going to get extreme ranges of shutter speeds. They will move fast so prefocus a few seconds before you know where there tyre will hit and as they enter the viewfinder, fire. Allow for height in jumps or distance of flying dirt. You will get sunburnt...so look for a shady spot behind a log (trust me, this has saved me many a time from wayward riders).
06/28/2008 06:36:03 PM · #3
Originally posted by Judi:

Look for the best spots around the field that give you good angles on more than one corner or jump, if you know what I mean. Do a few test shots of those angles to see what your lighting capabilites are....in high sun you are going to get extreme ranges of shutter speeds. They will move fast so prefocus a few seconds before you know where there tyre will hit and as they enter the viewfinder, fire. Allow for height in jumps or distance of flying dirt. You will get sunburnt...so look for a shady spot behind a log (trust me, this has saved me many a time from wayward riders).


Thanks Judi, going to go out this afternoon to check it all out. I am busy next week, on Friday I am meeting up with a client in Mackay (6 hour round trip to those who dont know the distances here)to check out her wedding arrangements and places she want photos. Back home the same day so I can do the Motocross the next day. I am going to be really tired on Sunday!!
06/28/2008 06:41:05 PM · #4
Just remember that the sun moves throughout the day...therefore what will work in one spot...might not be so good later....so keep that in mind when looking for locations. Also look for suitable backdrops.....and where the public will be sitting. If you grab the right location and use a good zoom...you can grab some great candids in between races.
06/28/2008 06:47:33 PM · #5
I've seen lots of photos where the photographer basically has a nice sky but the motorcyclist is in deep shadow ... meaning, the photographer was shooting *against* the light. Don't do this. You want to see the people. So, if at all possible, you want to position yourself to take advantage of the light. Granted ... what Judi said is equally important. You want to get to where you have some good angles on the jumps and such. So now you'll have to try to weigh both priorities to see what works best.

I recommend having a long lens. I love my Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS lens. It has a lot of reach when it's needed (400mm) and it isn't "too long" when things get close (which makes it a great lens for Soccer and other sports where you can get down close). For Motocross, you'll mostly use the 400mm end of the lens. Rent the lens if you need to. You'll find that it is both faster focusing and sharper than your Tamron 70-300mm lens. Plus, it'll give you that extra 100mm reach. You can rent it for a whole week for just $54 here.

For what it's worth ... I've only had one tiny experience at shooting this kind of stuff myself. We were walking to lunch. I had my camera with me (yes, with the 100-400mm lens, I was prepared). We were outside the event (I was shooting from the sidewalk) and only had about 15 minutes to get these images. I would love to have stayed longer, or gone at a better time of day than noon.

Good luck! I'd love to see what you get.

Message edited by author 2008-06-28 18:48:13.
06/28/2008 06:48:06 PM · #6

Sports is sports. To get the action from baseball is similar to capturing the action in motocross.

The thing you really need to know, including what Judi has advised on is...KNOW THE SPORT.

Emotion is a huge factor in sports, weather it comes from body language, or facial expression.

Here are some areas of interest if you are serious about doing a good job.

How to shoot Sports Photography w/ Tony Ding

This thread give some basic guidelines that the pro's use for great sports action photography.

Sports Shooter is where a lot of pro sports shooters hang out.
06/28/2008 06:54:20 PM · #7
as above plus ear defenders!
06/28/2008 07:39:01 PM · #8
Not sure of how it works in Australia but in Blighty most people appear to have access to the entire track :)

Lots of talk about lenses and I'd suggest 2 bodies if you can do that? Decent telephoto on one and a shorter lens on the other. This is an uncropped shot with my 50/1.8 and not as easy to take opposed to panning with a long zoom, he was no more than 10 feet from me!

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oh, and if you get lucky you can get an average scoring humorous shot ;)

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07/01/2008 05:50:11 PM · #9
Thanks for your replies everyone. Renting is not an option for me as I dont have access to any rental equipment. I will just need to use what I have, which isn't too bad. I will have to watch the light and shooting against it, thanks for that reminder.

As photographer I will have full access to the course. I need to sign an indemnity for this. I will also have a second body with a different lense which my son will be using from a different angle. I am hoping he will catch the odd action photo as well as candid shots.

Thanks Man Called Horse, I will look at the sites you linked to get to know the sports a little better.

All replies were very appreciated. Will post some results when its over.

Monique
07/01/2008 11:14:44 PM · #10
I recently read an article in a print magazine written by a pro motor-sports photog. I think his motivations are a little different than yours, but one thing he looks for when scouting sites to shoot from is an area that will show the character of the racetrack. As an example, when providing a photo for a client's press release of their recent win at the Nurburgring, he has photos that say Germany in the background. Perhaps something to think about (as if you don't have enough already, right? :)
07/02/2008 12:04:49 AM · #11
Had my first try at Moto-X the other week down here in NSW... couldn't get near the track due to an eight foot high fence all around the track (hopefully this isn't the case where you are)
used my 70-200 most of the time and sometimes it was too short but I still took a lot at around 100mm when I could get high enough to shoot over the fence
I found it best to shoot the bikes when they were in the air as they are a lot smoother then
here are a few samples on my flickr account

Moto-X

oh and watch out for the dust!!!!
07/02/2008 01:12:18 AM · #12
when taking shots of someone jumping, get as low to the ground or get your camera as low to the ground as you can get it, there jumps will appear higher and faster. if you take any shots of curves in the track, watch where the riders ride, get down and close into that area on the exit of the turn so you can get a low seep shot making them appear to rbe riding a higher wall/bank.

Jay
Travis

Message edited by author 2008-07-02 01:15:47.
07/07/2008 05:41:11 AM · #13
Well I did the shoot. Insane!!! I took photos from 9-4 without a break. The races run back to back. I wore a high viz vest and was able to stand whereever I wanted on the track. Sometimes within 1 meter of the racing bikes either side of me! I got pelted with mud and dust not to mention the exhaust fumes. I felt rather brave!! My 16 year old son ran back and forward to the car where I had the laptop to download the photos from the cards. He had to run between races just to get to me. I wasn't able to have a lunch break or toilet break as I didn't really have another photographer. Luckily someone brought me water several times through the day. It was a hectic day and I ended up shooting about 5000 photos. I went home tired, hungry, very dirty and with a headache. I have only had a chance to look at them today and am very happy with the results.

Yes I know.....you want to see some. Well I will download a few as soon as I get a chance. Thanks again for all you advice. You will see the results shortly.

Monique
07/07/2008 05:44:05 AM · #14
That's great to hear Monique. I am looking forward to seeing the results.
08/17/2008 03:51:14 AM · #15
Originally posted by Monique64:

Well I did the shoot. Insane!!! I took photos from 9-4 without a break. The races run back to back. I wore a high viz vest and was able to stand whereever I wanted on the track. Sometimes within 1 meter of the racing bikes either side of me! I got pelted with mud and dust not to mention the exhaust fumes. I felt rather brave!! My 16 year old son ran back and forward to the car where I had the laptop to download the photos from the cards. He had to run between races just to get to me. I wasn't able to have a lunch break or toilet break as I didn't really have another photographer. Luckily someone brought me water several times through the day. It was a hectic day and I ended up shooting about 5000 photos. I went home tired, hungry, very dirty and with a headache. I have only had a chance to look at them today and am very happy with the results.

Yes I know.....you want to see some. Well I will download a few as soon as I get a chance. Thanks again for all you advice. You will see the results shortly.

Monique


When you post your pics, please also post some of the tricks and techniques that worked out for you.

Knick
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