25 Mar 2015
Regular readers of TRR will know that I went to Mount Panorama a few weeks ago with some heavy camera gear to take action shots of the 12 hour GT race.I got my shots but I wasn't really satisfied with them.They were in the main a little too ordinary.Years ago I decided that shooting motor sport action without really long lenses is never satisfactory and even if you have the right gear you may well end up with just another set of vanilla action shots.You have to do something different to make your shots stand out from the zillions of competent/very competent action shots on the internet.Peter de Roussett-Hall's photos (see post below) are differentiated by their closeness to the action and their razor sharpness.
I went to the Barry Sheene FOS last weekend with just my Leica X Vario which only has a 28-70mm equivalent zoom lens so I had no intention of taking any action shots.But one of the joys of classic motorcycling race meetings is that there are not hordes of officials ordering you around.
I found myself leaning on the rail trackside on the pit straight and I decided to try and get some shots which conveyed speed so I shot the bikes hurtling into the first corner using a 1/60th second shutter speed and panning.
Panning is not easy -it needs plenty of practice and luck is also an ingredient in my experience.You have to set the focus to manual and focus on the spot where you intend to press the shutter release.Autofocus will not work.You have to pan at exactly the right speed starting the swing of the pan well in advance of the spot you want to shoot and holding the subject in exactly the right position in the viewfinder until you press the shutter release and then you have carry the swing through like a golf swing after the shutter has fired.
To give the right impression of speed you have to use a slow shutter speed but just the right shutter speed -too fast and you end up with a rather woolly shot-too slow and you end up with a very woolly shot.
Anyway out of about 30 attempts this is the only one which worked to my satisfaction.In all the others the bikes were too blurred because I had either panned too quickly or too slowly. I am pleased with it,I can almost hear him blipping the throttle as he changes down for the corner ahead, and fortunately it is a red Ducati.