All things Photography, Automotive Industry, Motorsport, Cars and Technology.

Motorsport Photography Tips

1/1600 sec shutter speed

1/1600 sec shutter speed

Its that time of year when Motorsports season kicks off around Australia

There are events such as the Clipsal 500, The Australian Grand Prix and state Motorsport series all start to begin for the year.

For many Motorsport fans, photography is also a passion. So they want to look at capturing the best photos they can of the action.

Read more after the jump

As the action is generally fast moving it can be hard to capture but with these few tips you can certainly help improve your skills.

Ideally in order to do this you need a SLR or CSC camera, the reason for this is that the autofocus speed, frame rate and shutter delay is a lot better in these models than in compact cameras.

This is not to say that you cannot still capture action shots on your phone or compact camera.

These next two shots were taken on my Samsung Galaxay phone at the 2012 & 2013  Bathurst 12hr, it will never replace my SLR but it does ok for shots to post up on social media

The gap between first and second in the #bathurst 12hr #b12hr #b12hrjsp

A post shared by Joel Strickland Media (@joelstrickphoto) on

When using these types of cameras there a couple of things you can do to improve your photos.

Look for the continuous shooting mode in your camera/phone. Most will have this option it will generally be in the set up for the camera under shooting mode. This will allow you to hold your finger down on the shutter and shoot a continuous rate of images, which will help you to improve your accuracy.

Pre focusing on subject is also a handy way to be guaranteed to capture a fast moving object. What you need to do in order to be able to do this is find a point where you know the vehicle will travel, a spot on the track or road where they are sure to pass over, then focus your camera there and hold your button on the focus and then as soon as the vehicle comes into frame press the button down the rest of the way to capture the image, this would work well with the continuous shooting mode we discussed above.

Another usefully tip to improve your images is to pan with your subject which results in a blurred background and helps to make your subject stand out from the background.

1/250 sec shutter speed pan

1/250 sec shutter speed pan

The panning technique can also be applied d to working with phones and cameras, but some of them will not allow you to change or control shutter speed, so it does make it very hard to make the most of this technique.

1/125 sec shutter speed pan

1/125 sec shutter speed pan

The process behind panning is an easy one, effectively when taking the photo of a moving object you pan the camera with the movement of the subject. Say you are tracking a vehicle which is one track and is coming from your right and is exiting on your left. You then track the vehicle from when it enters the area and keep following it until it is midway through, this when you then release the shutter, but after releasing the shutter you keep panning the camera so as to keep movement happening whilst the shutter is open.

1/60 second shutter speed pan

1/60 second shutter speed pan

If you are pre focusing then you set your focus point in the middle of between where the vehicle enters from and where it exits from.

If you are using a camera that had focusing tracking then it is a simple process of locking onto your subject as they appear and then keeping the focus on the subject as they move past you.

One aspect behind getting a good pan shot is getting your shutter speed right. The speed needs to be slow enough to blur the back ground but still be high enough to keep the vehicle sharp. The speed of the vehicle will help to give you an idea on what it should be. Slow moving vehicle’s come into or through a corner will need to be shot at slower speed than say a high speed vehicle or one traveling down a straight piece of road or track.

You are best to start high somewhere like 1/500 or second and try a couple of passes like that, then slowly take the shutter down a couple of stops at a time, till you get the balance between sharpness and blur right.  Try a couple of passes at 1/500 then drop to say 1/250/ then continue down to as far as you choose to dare. There are many photographers that like to challenge each other to see how low they can go and still get a sharp shot.

So there you have it a couple of points to help improve your Motorsport photography.


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