Looking for some moto photography tips

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5/28/2021 12:18 PM

I'm looking for a few tips. I literally just started shooting pictures Tuesday and went to the track Wednesday and shot for 3 hours straight. My biggest problem is keeping the subject in focus. There where far too many pictures i took where I felt I had my setting dialed and I just completely screwed up with the focus. I went back and forth between changing the focus as I followed the subject and setting the focus where i wanted the picture and following the rider to that point and taking the picture.

As far as equipment goes I'm using a canon rebel t7 with a EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens. I'm shooting in manual, maybe I should try auto focus? I don't really know, maybe i just need more practice. Also any other tips regarding settings are welcome.

Here are a few photos, some I felt where decent and others where I felt like I kind of screwed up.
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5/28/2021 12:38 PM

If you are just starting I’d try autofocus first. Make sure the ‘film speed’ is fast enough for your subject. The more you shoot the better you’ll get an discover what settings and style work for you.

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5/28/2021 12:43 PM

Manual focus on a moving subject is difficult to master, I’d definitely try keeping it on auto focus, manual settings. Master that, then try fiddling with the auto focus off. There’s so much to photography in general, adding a moving target into the equation ups the difficulty level especially on manual focus.

Couple tips from me, try to get the rider into frame more and look up the rule of thirds. I always tried to find a focal point of where I want the viewer of my pictures to look when I’m actually snapping them and used that for a baseline of how I wanted to frame the picture. for instance, if I was trying to capture the riders head I would put it closer to the center of the frame, not dead center but closer than the rest of his body/bike. For me it was usually the front number plate that gets the most attention so that was a focal point most times.

If you’re snapping a corner, try and snap the picture right at the point of the rider going from braking to acceleration or even a split second after and you will get the rear shock more squatting down and the forks decompressed and it usually comes out nicer than the dive into the corner. That’s also usually when the bike is most leaned over and it makes dudes look fast haha.

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5/28/2021 3:33 PM

PM me and I can tell you how to setup your camera so all you need to worry about at this stage is composition.

Here's some more information on this topic:

https://www.vitalmx.com/forums/Motodrive/Moto-Related,20

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5/28/2021 4:32 PM

Using manual settings is fun but with a moving target go with autofocus. You can still play with your other settings but let the lens do the focusing.

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5/28/2021 4:48 PM

Try a faster shutter speed- that should help with the out of focus.
Also- get a lens cover (clear thing that covers end of lens)- otherwise you stand a good chance of a rock hitting it and chipping it, which will ruin your camera.

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“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” ― Ernest Hemingway

5/28/2021 6:40 PM

I looked into the rule of thirds deal it makes sense definitely going to work on tha when shooting tomorrow. As well as trying auto focus. I was just worried about it being too slow for fast moving targets but we will see. Thanks guys!

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5/28/2021 6:44 PM

Moto Nomad wrote:

Try a faster shutter speed- that should help with the out of focus.
Also- get a lens cover (clear thing that covers end of ...more

I’m using a uv protecter on the end. I guess it’s kind of the same thing? I think most of the day I was on a 1/1600 shutter speed or exposure time.

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5/28/2021 6:50 PM

Black Diesel Bomber wrote:

PM me and I can tell you how to setup your camera so all you need to worry about at this stage is composition.

Here's some ...more

I sent you a pm

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5/28/2021 7:04 PM

I suggest a monopole to hold your camera steady. I also use manual focus when taking close-up corner shots. The secret there is to focus on a point, wait till the rider hits the turn, then start snapping. I've even used the same technique 20 yards away from a corner at an Indycar street race.

Take a look at my photo album from the 2016 Washougal race: https://goo.gl/photos/wsTDyEva3rMDQokM7

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5/28/2021 7:30 PM

bh wrote:

I'm looking for a few tips. I literally just started shooting pictures Tuesday and went to the track Wednesday and shot for 3 ...more

I shot in autofocus but with the manual focus point. I found that the camera was just too slow at acquiring the subject and focusing to get any decent results. It was worse on my Nikon D3200 but even my D500 couldn't pull it off. I'd set my focus point based on one rider coming through the section or just framing what I anticipated. More often than not the focus point was perfect slightly off center and higher up in the frame.

Two other things... Settings were almost always 1/1600 shutter speed, largest aperture opening possible, and ISO as low as possible. I upgraded to a 70-200 f2.8 from the f4.5-5.6 and that made a massive difference, but the variable aperture lens got the job done. And, shoot in raw and edit your photos in Lightroom if you can.

I didn't stray too much from any of that during my two years at TWMX and I couldn't believe the shots I was able to get once I started getting the hang of it. The more you do it the more you'll get the hang of the nuances of your camera and what certain conditions require you to adjust.

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5/29/2021 12:24 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/29/2021 12:24 AM

If your camera has it you need to use continuous autofocus. This will allow the camera to find and track a subject as it moves (i.e. the rider).
The second thing, as mentioned above, you need a pretty fast shutter speed. I've used 1/2000, 1/4000 to get a really clear image before.

Once you start using a faster shutter speed you'll notice the image looks a lot darker, because the camera can't capture as much light. Compensate this with a wide aperture setting, in your case as low as f/4.

The most important thing you need to do is just get out there and shoot as much as possible. Trial and error is always the best way to learn.

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5/30/2021 7:48 AM

bh wrote:

I'm looking for a few tips. I literally just started shooting pictures Tuesday and went to the track Wednesday and shot for 3 ...more

It looks like you’re off to a good start. Digital cameras are great because you don’t have to worry about wasting film while learning lol.

Regarding manual vs. autofocus, I have always used manual focus when shooting moto. I find autofocus annoying because it usually doesn’t do what I want it to do.

Instead of trying to manually focus while bikes are flying by, I choose a point on the track and focus there ahead of time. Then as riders get to that point, take the shot. You can get lots of good shots as the pack flies by because you can concentrate on framing your shots and not focusing the camera for every shot.

This technique works well when the bikes are coming toward (or going away) from you because the distance from the camera to the rider is essentially the same regardless of what line (right, left, center) they choose. Corners are a bit different and you have to anticipate if they will take an inside or outside line. Depending on the corner, sometimes you can focus on the middle line and still get good shots regardless of what line the rider takes. I hope this helps. Have fun!

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5/30/2021 10:53 PM

If your lens has image stabilization I suggest you keep it turned off as it can mess up the cameras continuous auto focus’s ability to stay focused while tracking, and with shutter speeds of 1/640th or faster blur isn’t likely

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5/31/2021 12:44 AM

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