Drag racing advice please

Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
249
Location
Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Hi everyone

I have the chance to go to the drag races in Sydney in a couple of weeks time and would love to take some photos. I've never been to the drags before, so any hints on what lenses to take, where to stand, what to shoot, etc would be greatly appreciated. I wont have a press pass - I'll just be one of the spectators and only have access to the sort of places they normally can get to. I expect that wont be real close to the cars, except maybe in the pits.

Ist item on the list to take is EARPLUGS !!

Other gear at my disposal
D2h
D70s
Tokina 12 - 24 f2.8
17 - 55 f2.8
80 - 200 f2.8
300 f 4
Kenko 1.4 TC
monopod
tripod
spare batteries, memory cards and PSD

Thanks for you help
 
Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
315
Location
SW Ohio, USA
Real Name
Dave
I'm not the best by far, but I enjoy the heck out of attempting racing photography.

I try to stand about 20-30 feet past the "tree" to be able to catch the action from the line as well as back in the burnout box. Timing is everything - sometimes you have to watch the tree countdown with one eye as you frame through the camera with the other - practice, practice, practice - you'll get more precise with your trigger each session. Focusing can be a bit tricky. I either manually focus or hold the auto focus (button half-way) so that the camera isn't making adjustments at the critical point of launch.

Lighting and background are always in a flux. I have given up on worrying about too much of the background, tracks are just what you see.

Ear plugs/muffs and other safety gear is a good idea. The high powered cars can be ear numbing.

Check with the track folk to make sure they are OK with where you stand, some events will not allow free lance folks right next to the track. Try not to be distracting to the racers...the more friendly and accomodating you are, the more freedom you will be given over time.

Here is a photo I took at an event just this evening:
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Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
482
Location
Rexburg, ID
+1 for the ear plugs. It's unreal how loud the cars are. You actually feel it in your gut. Dusk is a great time to shoot as you can catch the flames from the headers and still have decent shutter speeds. Good luck and enjoy!
 
Joined
May 11, 2005
Messages
17,633
Location
Chicago, IL
Wow, what a great opportunity to shoot and you have received such great advice from our members. I can't add a thing except to wish you good luck and have a great time. We'll be waiting to see your shots when you get back.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
249
Location
Bathurst, NSW, Australia
+1 for the ear plugs. It's unreal how loud the cars are. You actually feel it in your gut. Dusk is a great time to shoot as you can catch the flames from the headers and still have decent shutter speeds. Good luck and enjoy!
I know what you mean Ruffles. I saw a "funny car" give a burn out exhibition at the local race track a couple of years ago and I had to stop shooting and put my fingers in my ears. It hurt !!
 
Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
315
Location
SW Ohio, USA
Real Name
Dave
I had the opportunity to do a shoot of Funny Car, the noise was so deafening I had to wear ear plugs with and ear muff type protection over the top just to keep my sanity. It was more like being hit by a shock wave when they were right by you. Here is one hint to keep your ears from popping - ALWAYS face the car (pan the camera) even after you made your shot. You distribute the sound to both ears equally and it doesn't hit just the one ear.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
605
Location
a little ol' town near the big T.O.
Most racers love to have good quality pics of their cars, I know that we get approached all the time by guys that have pics for sale. If you record who they are and go see them in the pits afterwards, you might be able to sell a few of them!
The best drag pics are usually of the car launching, nothing more impressive than seeing the car digging in and the front wheels motionless in the air:eek: :cool:

Good luck and remember those ear plugs!:wink:
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2006
Messages
4,830
Location
Newcastle, Wa
The best drag pics are usually of the car launching, nothing more impressive than seeing the car digging in and the front wheels motionless in the air:eek: :cool:
Yeah, best time for a shot

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Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
315
Location
SW Ohio, USA
Real Name
Dave
Great shot Doug - good "reaction" off the tree ;)

Steve: Don't be afraid to try off angle shots. Some of the racers tire of seeing the same old angle. Keep it fresh and exciting, just like the sport!

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And don't forget what goes on behind the scenes and around you. There are always plenty of opportunities for interesting crowd shots, pit shots, or even cool cars that are in the pits but not on the track.

Have fun and show us what you got!!
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
605
Location
a little ol' town near the big T.O.
Great point Dave, you could do some great micro work in the pits. A tough capture but cool shot is to get 2 cars that are crossing the finish line at nearly the same time! You will need a lense with some reach for that one, uaually the won't let anyone near the guard rails at the top end.
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2006
Messages
87
Location
Surprise, AZ
Here's one from Firebird Int'l in Phoenix during NHRA "pre-season" testing. Taken from the stands since it seems they only allow team photogs on the starting lines. More in the gallery and some from '05 testing there also.

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Joined
Jan 29, 2006
Messages
1,143
Location
Reno, Nevada
Here are a few I took with my D200, 17-55 and 70-200vr.
The above 2 lenses are my most used lenses at the track, Drags or NASCAR.

24-120vr
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70-200 vr
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17-55
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70-200 vr
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Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
249
Location
Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Well, only 2 days to go before I get to the drag meet on Saturday and the weather forecast looks good !

I've decided to take the following gear
D2h
D70s
17 - 55
80 - 200
300 f4
1.4 tc
SB 800
monopod
extra batteries, cards and psd

If I can't get some nice photos with that lot, then its not the gear's fault :smile:

Oh year, and I have the earplugs in my camera bag already !
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
663
Location
New Jersey
Wow,
There are some great photos here! The D2h is perfect for this type of shooting. I generally prefocus on an area I know the action will be in and try to follow by keeping one eye one the car and the other in the viewfinder. This is where the 8fps of the D2h will shine. Don't be afraid to take a lot of shots as you can easily weed them down to just the best! I do a different type of Drag Racing which I hear is now becoming very popular "Down Under". :smile:

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Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
267
Location
Iowa
I am a little late seeing this thread but wanted to say good luck. I used to drag racing and my boyfriend still does. I'd rather be driving but I don't mind standing on the sidelines taking photos. here is one of my boyfriend.

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Joined
Mar 4, 2006
Messages
4,830
Location
Newcastle, Wa
Love all your shots :biggrin:

Here are a few more I just got last weekend. The two lens I used were the 28-70 and the 80-200.

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