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Old Oct 19, 2006, 5:32 PM   #1
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Hello experts
I'm a newbie here and I learned a lot so far from your expertise. However, I need your expert advice on my situation. I'm having a drag racing event in the next couple of days and need your help in the prefered settings based on my equipment.

Camera: Nikon D70
Lens: Nikkor 18-70 mm (The one came with the camera)
Lens: Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
Flash: SB-800 with diffuser and gel films
Tripod
Wireless remote control

Most probably I will be using the 18-200mm lens but what do you recommend for ISO, shutter speed and so forth?
Personally, I'm thinking of setting the ISO at 400 and putting the camera in the shutter preferred "S" mode
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Old Oct 19, 2006, 8:53 PM   #2
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A dark lens shooting action at night? Hope the track lighting is good!

I dont know what type of shot your going for, so I'm not sure what shutter speed you'll need. If you are close to the track and use a fairly wide angle you'll have a brigter aperture availible. I found that even at 1/350-1/500 at 28mm shooting an ATV rather close and panning, my motion blurred the background (or left a blurry atv if I didnt pan). That expirience would sugest you might need at VERY high shutter speed to freeze motion. Not such a problem if your shooting stationary cars. You could probably go much slower (1/60??) if your panning, but I have only seen other peoples examples at that speed. Keep rate would probably be fairly low at that extreme.

If you need to crank up the iso, go for it and dont look back. You cant un-blur a picture in photoshop but you can reduce noise pretty well.

Iso3200 looks spectacular in B&W.

I have taken to using manual exposure, I can get it more accurate with a test shot or two and then its consistent. Unless the light changes, of course. With my 7D I can hold the AEL (exposure lock) button and vary the aperture/shutter without changing the exposure so its pretty convienent.

If your shooting something stationary, use the tripod. Then you can set any aperture you want and not worry about shutter speed.
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Old Oct 20, 2006, 2:51 PM   #3
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Hello tmoreau,
Thank you for your reply but I have few questions if you don't mind.
I will definately have some "static" pictures of the cars and the racers in which I can make
use of the tripod, as you mentioned, and that is no issue. But taking the action shots whil
e the cars are burning their tires and going on full throttle to finish the 1/4mile is not a
n easy job, at least to me. Do you think my 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens would do the job? In other words, is f/3.5-5.6 wide enough?

Track lighting is not bad in certain places but it is in other
I'm sorry but I didn't get what do you mean by ATV and panning (Sorry but English is not my mother tongue)?
Don't you think ISO 3200 is too much for non Black and White pictures? If so, should I go for something like 1600 or is it not enough to "freeze" the motion? Should I have the camera in the shutter prefered "S" mode?

As you mentioned the manual exposure, how do you usually take it? Are there any preferred techniques? How do you normally do it? Do you hold the AEL button and hit the shooting button?

You can view some sample pictures I had with my older lens 18-70mm of the same track at:
tmoreau wrote: [/b]
Quote:
A dark lens shooting action at night? Hope the track lighting is good!

I dont know what type of shot your going for, so I'm not sure what shutter speed you'll need. If you are close to the track and use a fairly wide angle you'll have a brigter aperture availible. I found that even at 1/350-1/500 at 28mm shooting an ATV rather close and panning, my motion blurred the background (or left a blurry atv if I didnt pan). That expirience would sugest you might need at VERY high shutter speed to freeze motion. Not such a problem if your shooting stationary cars. You could probably go much slower (1/60??) if your panning, but I have only seen other peoples examples at that speed. Keep rate would probably be fairly low at that extreme.

If you need to crank up the iso, go for it and dont look back. You cant un-blur a picture in photoshop but you can reduce noise pretty well.

Iso3200 looks spectacular in B&W.

I have taken to using manual exposure, I can get it more accurate with a test shot or two and then its consistent. Unless the light changes, of course. With my 7D I can hold the AEL (exposure lock) button and vary the aperture/shutter without changing the exposure so its pretty convienent.

If your shooting something stationary, use the tripod. Then you can set any aperture you want and not worry about shutter speed.
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Old Oct 20, 2006, 3:38 PM   #4
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ATV is all-terrain-vehicle, I was refering to this picture taken at 1/350 of a second where I panned the camera following the movement of the rider. A result of that is that the atv stayed sharp but you can see the background is blurred. The SECOND picture was taken without moving the camera, using the same exposure settings. You can see that the background is sharp but the moving atv is blurred a little.





You will have to use this technique when the cars are moving on the track, since you can see the motion effects even at 1/350. I suspect you will have a hard time even making your shutter speed that fast with the availible light at your track, and your cars will be moving MUCH faster than my atv's.

I use Manual exposure mode (see your camera instructions), not shutter or aperture priority. I take a test frame or two and adjust so that my exposure both looks good and does not have blinking highlights/shadows (on the camera LCD). This can be done before the cars are there, and then your exposure should not need to change until you move to a different location. I would not use aperture priority with your lens, because it will change when you zoom and cause frustration and mistakes. I cannot suggest shutter priority because I dont know what shutter speed you will need. Maybe 1/1000 would freeze everything every time, but I am sure you do not have enough light for that. If you use shutter priority watch out, if you keep making it faster the camera has to keep making the aperture bigger, but it will hit a limit. When you reach the limit the shots will be underexposed.

You will need to expiriment, and I think manual mode makes it easier.

Iso 1600 and 3200 can look great sometimes, and no so great other times. Make sure your exposure is bright because if you lighten the picture in photoshop it will make noise much worse. Otherwise, there is not much you can do, you will need to use the high settings because of the demanding conditions. When using the tripod for static shots remember to turn it back down to iso 100.

You will have the best luck by the starting line during burnouts because the cars are moving much slower.
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Old Oct 20, 2006, 8:24 PM   #5
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tmoreau wrote:
Quote:
ATV is all-terrain-vehicle, I was refering to this picture taken at 1/350 of a second where I panned the camera following the movement of the rider. A result of that is that the atv stayed sharp but you can see the background is blurred. The SECOND picture was taken without moving the camera, using the same exposure settings. You can see that the background is sharp but the moving atv is blurred a little.

I personally think the first picture is better because the object I'm focusing on is in focus while everything else is quite blurred, which is fine with me as I saw some really professional photos here in the forums for some events in LeMans and Melbourne, they were amazing and they had the main object in focus while everything else blurred.

Did you have your photos with the camera on a tripod or holding it in hand? You said in the first shot, you have the camera following the rider while in the second, it was still, was that with a tripod or no?

Quote:
You will have to use this technique when the cars are moving on the track, since you can see the motion effects even at 1/350. I suspect you will have a hard time even making your shutter speed that fast with the availible light at your track, and your cars will be moving MUCH faster than my atv's.
I'm sorry but I didn't get the difference between the two techniques, is it only moving the camera? It would be reaaaaaaaaaaaaaly hard to spot the car while running at 180 or 200mph! I think I have to "follow" the car and try several shots so that I might end up with one or two good ones, don't you think so?

Quote:
I use Manual exposure mode (see your camera instructions), not shutter or aperture priority. I take a test frame or two and adjust so that my exposure both looks good and does not have blinking highlights/shadows (on the camera LCD). This can be done before the cars are there, and then your exposure should not need to change until you move to a different location.
That's a good thing to try, I will make sure I try it first.

Quote:
I cannot suggest shutter priority because I dont know what shutter speed you will need. Maybe 1/1000 would freeze everything every time, but I am sure you do not have enough light for that.
Wouldn't the SB-800 be good for that? Maybe I can use it without the diffuser and point the flash directly to the cars, if I'm not mistaken, the SB-800 can be good for objects within the range of 20m?

Quote:
If you use shutter priority watch out, if you keep making it faster the camera has to keep making the aperture bigger, but it will hit a limit. When you reach the limit the shots will be underexposed.
You mean if I keep on rotating that "thing" and increasing the number on screen to have a faster shutter speed? Do you have any idea what would it "show" me on screen when I reach the limit?

Quote:
Iso 1600 and 3200 can look great sometimes, and no so great other times. Make sure your exposure is bright because if you lighten the picture in photoshop it will make noise much worse. Otherwise, there is not much you can do, you will need to use the high settings because of the demanding conditions. When using the tripod for static shots remember to turn it back down to iso 100.
I hope I don't forget setting it back to 200, which is my camera's lowest iso.

Quote:
You will have the best luck by the starting line during burnouts because the cars are moving much slower
I guess I will have to take a lot of photos during that time

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Old Oct 20, 2006, 8:48 PM   #6
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1) Both my pictures were handheld, the first I was moving the camera to keep the atv in the same place in the viewfinder, I was moving the camera at the same rate as the atv. The second picture I did not move the camera, I waited until the atv was in the right place and took the picture. As you see, this technique was not effective with my [slow] shutter speed.

2) Yes, this is just moving the camera. Its called 'panning', and its not easy to get right. I havent used it much. You might have to take dozens or hundreds of pictures to get some good ones.

3) I have never tried to light such a large object with a flash, I dont know how it would work. You would need the ambient exposure to be dark and expose only by the light of the flash so that it dosent blur. Try it and see!

4) In shutter priority if you turn the speed up beyond the ability of your camera to make a good exposure, the aperture display should blink (thats how my camera works anyway). Not easy to notice when the action is happening!

Good luck, try different things and when you get home and look at your pictures see what worked and remember that for next time.
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Old Oct 20, 2006, 9:20 PM   #7
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Cool, thanks a lot, I will try my best and probably get back with the results
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Old Oct 25, 2006, 2:23 PM   #8
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I am interested to see how you get on but I think that AF could be an issue as you don't have a 'very' bright lens but well worth trying. Also if you have a good panning technique then you can go for even lower shutter speeds. This shot was taken at 1/80th and approx 140mm. From talking to the drivers they were doing approx 80mph at this point so less than drag racing however...... it is not how fast something is moving it is how rapidly you are changing angle/the subject is moving through the frame so if you can pan well then you are going to get some stunning shots even at lower shutter speeds.

I would shoot in AI Servo and Tv (shutter priority) playing around with different options. One thing when panning pick a point on each car (go for the driver if visible) as this will be your sharpest point and then practise practise practise.

Do post some when you have had a go.

Mark




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Old Oct 25, 2006, 2:35 PM   #9
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This is an amazing shot Mark1616, I really liked your pictures.
I might not be able to make it for this drag event due to the fact that I'm stuch with some family stuff, however, I will try and make use of your great information while practicing and practicing and practicing

Just give me some time and I will come back with pictures
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Old Oct 25, 2006, 6:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for your kind words.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"The only way I have manged to get to the level I am at is by trial/error, posting here and listening to those who know more/are better photographers than me (there are lots of them) and looking at magazines and websites of the sports I will be covering. I get an idea of what I would like to capture then try different ways to get it. The best thing nowadays is that we can shoot and make mistakes and unless being paid to get a particular shot it costs us nothing. Also I would keep reviewing your shots in the camera when you take them and see where you are doing well and where it is weaker. If you want to capture movement (one of my favorite things) then try differing shutter speeds from say 1/60th - 1/250th depending on how fast you are panning and see what works. At lower shutter speeds you will lose more shots by not panning smoothly and moving up and down, but the results you can get are worth it. When it comes to metering if there is a lot of black in the background (which I guess there will be) then I would suggest you go for centre weighted metering otherwise you might get an overexposed subject, but again play around and see what you get.

I just realised that the ISO question was not answered. I would always say keep it as low as possible while maintaining a good exposure and getting the shutter speed/aperture you want. Do you use noise reduction software? If not get some.... at the moment I use Neat Image (the free version) and am just looking at the pro versions of the competition to do batch processing and to link into Paint Shop Pro (can't afford Photoshop).
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