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Why can't I get a "WOW!" in MX (3 pics)

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by cajun angel, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. Either I'm too chicken, or just don't have any business in doing what I"m doing. We went to a new place today - totally different from most MX places that we've been too - this place was literally a pit! The track was really challenging for the bikers and because I didn't know the layout, I was a bit scared to venture too far. And, there really wasn't that many "good" bikers out there either. On a good note, if the owner likes what he sees in my photos, my pics will be on his website. Anyway, here's a sample of what I got, I still have a lot to go through,

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  2. Dianne,

    Given the fact that you know the sport better than most of us, and I don't thank you're chicken...the lack of 'wow' may just be a bad day, or not thinking things through.

    You know in your mind what makes a 'wowser', so showing up at the track is a matter of finding that spot. And maybe the track doesn't have it, or it's not easy to find. Maybe you have to find the second best spot, or decide that today, you're going to focus on a specific shot and make it perfect.

    It looks like you've got the stuff there to make the riders look good (and maybe better than the track?).

    So what was challenging for the riders, and why not shoot that part?

    And if it was just an off day, heh, they happen.

  3. Oldtime


    Jul 5, 2006
    Durham, NC
    Learn to Pan
    These shots are way to static no sense of motion
  4. biggstr6


    Apr 26, 2005
    I would for sure try to get in closer either physically or with a longer lens, And try some different angles instead of all broadside shots. As was said try varying the shutter speed & panning some.

    If you can stay longer or start earlier you may get more dramatic light as well.
  5. John-O


    Jul 26, 2008
    Carson, CA, USA
    Ask around the track where the good places are and usually they'll tell you its near a turn or major jump. You can get some wow shots with riders leaned over and kickin up dirt out the back. Mid day shooting is always difficult, if at all possible wait for the magic hour and use fill flash.
  6. Sorry if I seem a bit blunt . . . But the only thing stopping you getting the "WOW" is you . . .

    The camera only records what you see . .

    I agree to a very small degree that its not easy shooting in the mid day sun, but they are'nt gonna wait so that you can get some good pics . . So you will have to find a way around that problem . .

    With regards to asking where the good spots are, all you are going to do is stand next to every other tog and get exactly the same shot . . . Whats the point in that . . . Who's gonna go "WOW" at 100 shots all the same . . !

    Here's what I would suggest . . .

    Get to the track/circut early and walk all the way round the inside and outside looking for the places where you can see/imagine a different or unusual angle or perspective . . Dont forget that it is possible to kneel down lay on your side . .(even if its wet and muddy . . Trust me I have done it . several times), you dont have to stand bolt upright all the time . . You have got to be prepared to go that extra mile . . because thats where the "WOW" is . .
  7. torags


    Aug 24, 2008
    My read is it's too clean for MX. You got to get the dirt kickin'. Get on the inside of apexes (not the outside!). They like to dig out.

    MX air (flying ) is not as exciting as super MX (higher)

    Slower shutter, none of your spokes are blurred to give the illusion of motion. I recognize in flight they slow, but it's a must for sports photogs.

    Jewson is right, walk the track, notice the sun and figure where it will be when they race and pick your background first. I don't know about laying on your side, he has very high standards.

    Good luck next time round

  8. Dianne,

    You've got pretty good suggestions above. Your vantage point is very important and will definitely help you getting a WOW picture. In the picture below, I was slightly above the rider and he had the sun at his back. By using a shallow DOF, it was easy to get good separation from the background making the rider "pop" out of the picture.

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    This time, I was below the rider and again the sun and a shallow DOF help me get good separation. All I had to do was wait for peak action and snap the picture.

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    Same event but a different category. I had the sun at my back and there was no way for me to get to the other side of the track. I used as slow a shutter speed as I could manage and panned the action. The slow shutter speed really adds to the picture because tires and dirt really show movement.

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    I'll admit that it's harder to obtain a nice crisp picture of the subject but when you nail one, it is spectacular.

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    Getting tighter shot will also help you show a more intimate side of the riders. A good place to get those is usually in tight corners where they'll slow down quite a bit, giving you more time to compose your shot. For that one, I was on the outside of the corner. Usually standing inside the corner gives you more opportunities and is also safer.

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    "Group" shots during the first few laps can also make interesting shots.

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    Finally, don't hesitate to go behind the scene. The crew members and officials do a fantastic job and should be photographed too.

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    And if Dad doesn't want you to photograph his little prince, pull the trigger anyway. They make fun pictures too !

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    You will also get beautiful sportraits there and the riders will thank you for them.

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    And in case you're wondering, there are hundred of pictures that were discarded in order to get those shots. In the age of digital photography, pixels are dirt cheap so go ahead and practice and then practice some more and when you think you got it, go back to the track and practice again. When you get home, take a shower, go grab a cup of your favorite drink and start sorting through your images. When all is said and done, should should have a few WOW shots. And the next time you'll go to the track, you should get better since you studied the pictures you threw away and you now have a better feeling of what works and what doesn't.

    And if it doesn't come to you after all this hard work, that's OK. As long as you're having fun while you're at the track with you're family, who cares if you got award winning photographs. Life is short, better have some fun !!!
  9. torags


    Aug 24, 2008
    Nice shots fireman.

    Dianne you can get subject separation in two ways, by shallow depth of field or panning both as fireman did. If you have a variable aperture lens, panning is probably the best way, since you have little control over aperture.

    I'm inclined to be low on the subjects. If you look at some of Jewsons shots, he can make a superbikes 2" of air seem like the biker is going to jump 7 cars...

    I favor background picking, this is super moto; faster than MX and they catch some air. I picked this shooting spot because of the hill. Infineon Raceway, CA
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    Here I wanted the score pole for the context of the venue: Supercross Daytona Speedway, FL (these guys get high)

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  10. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Shooting motorcycle racing with your camera set to Spot Metering is not an optimal mode. You are shooting too far away from the subject matter to be successful using Spot Metering.
  11. Thanks Mark, you made me feel a tad better. I really DON"T know much - like what a "burn" is (until Sat). There's so much to learn in the lingo and then when chatting with some of the riders, some of them weren't the friendliest - that was unusual for me! As for challenge, well since it was the first time out at the Pit, I really didn't know where I could safely go and get pics without putting me or a rider in possible danger. This place was not for racing, it was more for serious practice and conditioning before races. And yep, I'm gonna call it an off day - I know I'm capable of doing by far better! We're going back, hopefully before too many bikers show up and I'll be able to ride the area - that's another issue, this place is definitely not the best for atv's and that's what I use to carry all my gear on.
  12. Thanks Mark, I do know how to pan - in fact, I have to pan with the riders to get tack sharp and learn their riding habits. I need to get my shutter speed back down to blur the wheels and the background. In this case though, I'm shooting to show the

    Unfortunately, this place doesn't open early - only at 9am and by the time everyone is geared up, bikes unloaded, canapies set up and whatnot, it's HOT and the sun is well up. We found out the reason for the late opening is the residence that's close by. This place also shares with some kind of construction type stuff that really has to be watched out for. As for getting in closer, I usually do when I'm at a place I'm familiar with.

    That's exactly what I tried to do! My hubby's friend told me some places, but he disappeared and I didn't see him for more than an hour and a half. He had taken to the trails and those aren't quite wide enough for my Polaris. I ended up going out alone - the long way around the Pit and managed to find a really awesome spot, but then the really good riders weren't taking it very often. The only shot I did get was 1 rider and he wiped out on the first go round. I may post more, but I'll think hard about it. I think Saturday just wasn't the perfect day for MX at this location.
  13. Jewson, you should know by now I respect your expertise and you are 100% right. I almost have no valid excuses for not getting what I set out to get! I was overwhelmed though at the Pit, it was just so different, I couldn't see where I could go for the terrain was just too unusual. Walking the Pit would be hard - even in my red wings, but next time, I may get permission to get out early and see if I can ride it for finding those prime spots. Some of the good spots are actually hidden until you get right up on them.

    Yeah, it's not MX in the sense of where you go pay to watch bikers race - like Torn Racing. I think the place I went to is more for conditioning, training, fun, or practice. I still need to figure out how to shade my moniter to where I can see it when the sun is behind me. I do have eye issues, thought my new hat would help but nope. I do know to stay on the inside of the burns, hairpins, and horseshoes. At this place though, they're still working on it and so finding safe spots to "set up" isn't exactly easy.
  14. Knew I screwed up somewhere! I usually shoot in matrix. And Frank, I'm sorry, that's one of the lessons you tried to drill into my dense head.
  15. FIreman and Rags ---

    Thanks for posting some really awesome photos! It's really up to me to get out there and shoot - and more often. I just don't go these places alone for there's very seldom any women, I usually go with my hubby, and then I really don't know where a lot of these places are. I'm trying to talk mxmark into taking me to a race but they're usually held when he has to work. And then, his thing is to just get together with buddies and ride.

    Oh, my main lens I use for MX is my 80-200mm 2.8. It does allow me to get in closer to the bikers but Saturday was just off for me and not knowing the Pit, I didn't venture too much.
  16. torags


    Aug 24, 2008
    "He had taken to the trails and those aren't quite wide enough for my Polaris"

    and hiking in is out of the question?

  17. I'm posting a shot to illustrate something - if I had underexposed the background and used my flash, it would have or could have been a "wow."

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    When going back through my photos, there were actually about 4 riders that tried to give me what I wanted, I was too stupid to know the "signs" and should have known better and should have tried to move in or something. I'm chaulking Saturday up to a off day and as a MX photographer/rider said "every shot should be counted as if it were the ONLY chance" and get it right the first time.
  18. tjk60


    Dec 4, 2007
    troy, mi

    Dianne, Happy Birthday!!!!!
  19. IMO I think if you shot wide open (2.8) and was zoomed in a little bit you would have the wow, the background seems a good bit in focus meaning you were a good ways away from the biker. Using a flash and underexposing the background probably wouldn't do it.

    You have to get close and shoot tight!

    Oh and as Tim has mentioned Happy Birthday! :biggrin:
  20. hiking 5 miles with 30 lbs of camera gear isn't easy - especially in Texas heat!
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