Shooting really fast moving targets

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by vandi, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. vandi macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #1
    I'm gonna be shooting at a drag race this weekend. I have shot cars in motion before with success. But Top Fuel dragsters go a bit faster. Anyone have any experience or suggestions? I will have a Canon 400D a Canon 70-300mm USM and a Canon 28-80mm kit lens. Hopefully it will be real sunny! Help me out if you can. Thanks.
     
  2. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #2
    I'll defer to anyone with actual experience on this - but I'd put it in manual and pre-focus at some point midway down the track, using a small aperture for more depth of field; and put my camera on multiple-exposure mode (this is one time I'd use JPEG since it'll get you more shots per second). Then hit and hold the shutter release as soon as those lights start running downward - whatever you call that series of lights they use to tell the cars to start.
     
  3. vandi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #3
    Wow, got a reply fast. I almost forgot i could manualy focus. Thanks for the ideas. They are helpful. Oh and the light thing is called a 'tree'. No idea why they call it that........
     
  4. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
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    Ireland
    #4
    I would agree with Westside Guy, manually pre-focus on a spot and release the shutter just before the car reaches the spot.

    Just be careful with setting a small aperture (high f number) to get more depth of field, as this will result in a slower shutter speed.

    Good luck with the shoot :)

    FJ
     
  5. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #5
    I don't know about the 400D, by my 5D has several focusing options- one being AI Servo. This is basically a continuous focus adjustment that allows you to focus before each shot (even if you're doing bursts). If you have that option, just use the continuous mode and fire away until your buffer fills. Make sure to keep your focus mode on a specific point (meaning don't use auto mode, or multiple point focus, as that will confuse the system). If you don't have that option, then do as Westside guy suggested. Good luck.
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #6
    The 400D has AI servo but it's not rated for massive speed.

    My two pence would be: it depends on the shot you want. If you want to get the impression of speed then you will need a slightly slower shutter speed and to pan keeping the target object in (as far is possible) the exact same point in the viewfinder. Combined with the AI servo mode this can result is a nicely focused target with a blurred background. If you want an easier shot then ramp up the ISO and shutter speed and freeze the action. This is easier to shoot, but you can get to the point where the car looks stationary...
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #7
    Focus distance won't change much if you're side-on- so AF should be able to handle it, but really you want some motion with the cars, so practice panning as you take the shot. You'll get a lower number of "keepers," but the ones you do get will be significantly better, as the background *and* wheels will be blurred with motion (if you freeze the wheels, your shutter speed is too fast!)

    I'd probably start out in shutter priority around 1/125th of a second and adjust the shutter speed from there. I'd use a larger aperture than has been suggested to blur out the background car unless you specifically want them both in focus, but then you're not going to get good results panning, and I'd shoot more head-on with a bit wider lens for those shots. Practice panning on your street, near a highway or anywhere else there's a target moving in about the same way.

    The biggest suggestion is to try to meet some of the racers or crew, so that next time you'll have hopes of a press pass and can get shots from closer in.
     
  8. Mantat macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Montréal (Canada)
    #8
    AI servo mode is wayyy fast enough for a moving car. God, these cars arent THAT fast! The servo of my XT can track flying birds without a problem.

    Apparent speed is relative to your distance to the subject, focal length and angle to the subject route. Unless you are very close to the track and only have a faction of a second to shoot the coming car before its out of sight, you will be fine. Try to shoot paralelle to the track as much as possible since it will reduce the apparent speed of the car.

    Shoot at F8-F11 to maximize DOF and get a shutter speed that will freeze most of the action (1/500?). You might have trouble with reflections, so a polarizing filter might be good but dont forget to put it off if the sun isnt strong enough since it will cost you about 2 stops. Of course, you will need a lot of sun if you want to keep the ISO under 400...

    Have fun!
     
  9. ahuyevshi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    #9
    You want to use AI-Servo with center point selected... Use the Slowest shutter speed you can get 1/250 at F/8-11 and pan with the car.. Click while still moving the lens... U might want to try with a monopod or tripod at first... You can freeze the action by using higher shutter speeds but what fun is that.. car looks stopped.

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  10. vandi thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #10
    Awesome

    Wow. thanks a lot guys. your ideas, suggestions and tips are really helpful. I'll be at the dragway for like 12 hours, so by the time i leave i will be an expert at shooting 300 mph dragsters(hopefully). Keep the tips comin', i really appreciate them.
     
  11. beavo451 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    #11
    I don't know how to do it on your Canon, but you could try a technique called a "focus trap". Basically, you set your camera to fire the shutter when the focus point is in focus. So you manually pre-focus on a spot, hold the shutter release down, and when the car moves into the focus area, the camera fires. Google "focus trap" or "trap focus".
     
  12. vandi thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #12
    oh cool

    oh that sounds cool. i'll definatly check that out
     
  13. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    Location:
    The Library.
    #13
    Does anyone here know how one might try that with a Pentax?
     
  14. Poeben macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    #14
    Lots of good suggestions so far. I came across this during my daily travels. It mentions some of what has been said already and some of those things you may not have thought of (like hearing protection, wearing long pants, kneepads.)

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/racing.shtml

    Have fun at the track and post back with some pics!
     

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