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Thread: Advice on shooting fast objects (cars) at sunset/night situations

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    Advice on shooting fast objects (cars) at sunset/night situations

    Hi all,
    I have been practicing lots of day photos and getting used to all my settings. Although i am attending some drag racing on the weekend and im not too familiar with shooting in low light, especially fast moving objects.
    I have a Canon 7D with the following lenses:
    -50mm 1.8 II
    -18-35mm 3.5-5.6
    - 70-300mm 4-5.6

    What would be the best setting (TV, AV, M) and lens for these shots and what techniques can i use to get sharp well exposed photos? My understanding is that i will need a high ISO, a small f/stop and a fast shutter speed. But judging the light at the time and choosing the right numbers is my major issue.

    Any help will be appreciated.
    LAURITA
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Well, Laurita, I don't know how much light you'll have, but to free you up some to concentrate on the shots, I would be putting in Tv mode and letting the aperture vary as necessary. You can change the shutter speed as you consider necessary.

    But the 1st thing to do on arrival is to see just what light the camera is metering. That will help you decide on what ISO you might need. As the evening progresses and IF the light changes, do another reading to see if you might need to change your ISO.

    With the fast f=50mm lens you will only be limited by how large the subject will be. Across the track the cars may appear small.

    With the longer lens you will have to pan along with the subjects, and its smaller maximum aperture will soak up some light - an extra stop at full zoom.

    Try to get a bit of practice beforehand, even separately, like panning, checking out image sizes, and low-light evening shots.

    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 23-06-2011 at 11:08am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    I am a newbie myself - so I am just sharing my (limited) experience with you and don't take it as gospel.

    In terms of shoot motor sport, there are 2 types.

    1) Getting just a tad sharp image and don't care about adding the feel of movement in the picture. In that case that would be easy.

    Set ISO to Auto
    Use Tv setting, set to at least 1/1000
    Focus drive -> AI Servo
    I would also use the center focus point - if you are at the corner, focus on head/tail light. If you are at the side of the track, just the middle of the car.


    2) Getting a sharp image that has some movement involved - That require some panning skill, and it can be difficult in time. But it will create a much more satisfying, pleasing and dramatic image.
    In terms of camera setting, IMO:

    Set ISO to Auto
    Focus drive -> AI Servo
    Use Tv Setting - if it's car (larger/slower vehicle), start from 1/200 and once you get the hang of it, graduately slow it down to 1/100 or slower. If it's Bike (smaller/faster vehicle), start from 1/400 and slow it down once you get the hang of it.
    I would still use the center focus point unless there is special composition need.
    Make sure the drive mode is the highest possible (8fps for your 7D - which is pretty darn fast)
    Make sure you pick a spot on the car to focus, AND STICK to it when firing the burst mode.
    I would also "plan" my panning path/direction. It's not necessary your camera always move from left<->right, sometime it is a little diagonal - and most of the vehicle will follow the same path (unless it's drift outta track )




    For all of above, I would also:
    I would use the 70-300mm lens 95% of the time!
    I would make sure I move around a lot (not stick at the same spot for the rest of the day).
    I would try to make sure I am always facing the light source.
    I would shoot JPEG instead of RAW - allow your camera to clean up the buffer quicker.
    I would also use "Neutral" as my Picture Style - sport cars are pretty sharp in color (generally speaking) so you don't want extra saturate color stored in the pic. Can always post process if required.

    Hope this help.
    Last edited by andylo; 23-06-2011 at 11:14am.

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    Member markjaffa's Avatar
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    I think your success will depend largely in part where you place yourself. If you are shooting the launch, you will have a higher percentage of keepers, because of the lower speed at this point. Which means more chance of having the cars in focus. Trying to capture the cars in focus at half track will be problematic - large rate of change of distance will test your autofocus out. 7D is meant to be pretty good, so give it a whirl. At the start line you should be able to get away with a slower shutter speed too - which means either a smaller aperture or lower ISO. I think you will be shooting the action with your 50mm or 70-300mm - reserving your 18-35mm for wider atmosphere shots - unless you can get right up to the cars. Your 50mm will allow for quick shutter speeds and small apertures - I would bias towards shooting with this lens over the 70-300mm. Dont ignore your tele altogether though - if you can get yourself part way down the quarter mile you could get some images looking back towards the start line. Or for some tight framing on the cars/people.
    As for camera mode - I think I would go for Tv. If you want sharp captures of the cars then you need to ensure the shutter speed you are using is high enough to freeze the action. I havent shot this subject before, but I would select 1/1000 as a starting point, and check out the resulting images quality then making adjustments. If you are happy with some motion blur you might be able to go slower. So with 1/1000 set I would check exposure of my subject, and then juggle aperture and ISO to get what I want. By juggle I mean increase the ISO until I can shoot with my desired aperture or open the aperture up to allow for a selected ISO. You may also want to play with your metering mode and/or exposure compensation if you are noticing consistent under/over exposure.
    Hope this helps
    Canon 5D Mk II - gripped, Samyang 14mm f2.8, Canon 16-35mm f2.8L, 50mm f1.2L, 100mm Macro f2.8L, 70-200mm IS II f2.8L, Gitzo CF tripod and Gitzo CF monopod, Acratech GP Ballhead, Manfrotto Video Fluid Head, Intervalometer, and lots of other stuff!

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    I'd be sitting a little way back and panning as they come past you, although the cars are fast, the further you are away the less the apparent radial speed, notice how slow an airplane is as it moves across the sky ? Easy to capture isn't it

    If you are close and firing at them coming at you yes, go for a high shutter speed.

    I'd definitely use manual exposure, cloudy white balance and with the 7d you can use iso2000 no real problem

    Have fun, and wear ear plugs
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    7d. I regularly shoot ice hockey (in dim light) at 3200. So don't be afraid to.

    If you're close, the 50: if you're far back and square on, a longer lens, slower shutter and pan.

    If you are more front on (eg, near the finish line, shooting at terminal speed may be a problem) shoot them as they are starting, the movement will be more towards you and slower shutter speed not such a disadvantage.

    Def Ai servo if you are panning / tracking

    Look forward to see the results

    Scotty
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    Thanks everyone for your responses and great information.
    It certainly clears up some questions i had and hopefuly guide me to take some nice photos.
    I think i will need to read up on this Ai Servo since i havent used it yet. Sounds like its a good setting for panning, ive always wanted to experiment with panning effects. Automotive photography is probably my biggest hobby just being a car nut, so this really helps.
    I'm not sure where i will be standing yet or what the lighting conditions are so i will have to be prepared to work with it.
    Thankfully these are not racing cars, just bmw's So hopefully i will be able to take some nice shots.

    I will update on my results next week and hopefully share some cool photos.

    Thanks again!

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    Wow... BMWs... where is this happening?? (I am a huge Beema fan)

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    At Willowbank raceway, it is just a Test'n'Tune day. And since i am part of the BMW forums also, we are having a meet and run there. (not me since my car is too slow, mine is in my sig)
    But there are some E46 3 Series, E46 M3's, E60 M5, 125i, 135i, and many other cars on the day. Should be a good day

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    Would you mind to let me know what date and time it would be? I am still at work and the work internet has blocked lots of thing.

    I have a E46 323i myself - small engine but a sweet ride for day to day travelling

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    Yea sure you should join us! Racing Starts at 4.30pm on Saturday this weekend at Willowbank.

    I have a E46 318i so the baby of the lot I will PM you with more info anyway.

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    Like other have said, you'll need to decide what kind of images you want - frozen or "action" shots. I am very much a newbie to photography but like you my main passion is motorsport.

    I'm a big fan of action shots, especially in low light as "freezing" the action is hard. I focus on the front of the car/bike using AI Servo. This is important because a sharp leading edge and a blurred tail emphasises the sense of speed. Use all those 8fps on your 7D and just keep practising in Tv mode, bring the shutter speed down and down as you get better. Depending on the speed you should be able to get consistent shots at 1/60 or less in a few hours shooting.

    In terms of composition (assuming the car is moving from right to left), keep the nose around the centre, and adjust your zoom to make sure the rest of the car is still in the shot. This will give some space in the left for the car to "drive into" and you can crop out any other bits later. Also consider tilting the camera as you pan so that the car is running diagonally across the frame rather than across it; this will make the images more interesting and pop a little more. (See below)

    Standard panning - pretty average with little interest
    http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o...8Sept-1039.jpg
    Now one tilted - Has more of an impact (In my opinion )
    http://morenogottula04.altervista.or...r_ac_cobra.jpg

    Apologies to mods if I've broken any rules using examples from the web, was not my intention
    Last edited by I @ M; 23-06-2011 at 7:52pm.
    Ryan

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98kellrs View Post
    Apologies to mods if I've broken any rules using examples from the web, was not my intention
    You did actually so I fixed it.
    Andrew
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    That second photo is exactly what i would love to achieve. I know i will have lower light and that is what worries me the most. I will review my camera and find this Ai Servo and practice before i get out there.
    Thanks again for your help

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    Quote Originally Posted by I @ M View Post
    You did actually so I fixed it.
    Oopsy, sorry about that! Thanks for fixing, lesson learnt.

    Quote Originally Posted by laurita31 View Post
    That second photo is exactly what i would love to achieve. I know i will have lower light and that is what worries me the most. I will review my camera and find this Ai Servo and practice before i get out there.
    Thanks again for your help
    Yeah AI Servo is definitely the way to go. If you find it struggles to focus quickly enough you can always pick a spot on the track, manually focus on it and then just aim to take your shots at that point. Make sure you post up your shots in the members photo's section, as I'm keen to see them!

    Oh and once you get it down, start to take fewer shots per burst and switch to RAW format so you can PP them easier if the lighting isn't great.

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    I ketp in mind all of your help, but still found it hard to get the right exposure and focus on a lot of the photos, so i will look at this as a learning experience
    Had a really good day tho! So many nice cars and impressive times!
    I have processed a few on the weekend, still have to edit a few more...
    I have posted them on the CC under Automotive.

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