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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Motorsports Talk 
Thread started 25 Jul 2012 (Wednesday) 09:21
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Panning at drag races- Help

 
Ontario55
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Jul 25, 2012 09:21 |  #1

I've been practicing panning at drag races and I'm not impressed with the results
Despite everyones advice and suggestions, reading posts and links about this subject and practicing there is no improvement
The cars are out of focus
So I want to step back to the basics and start to hopefully eliminate what could be a contribuiting factor to poor pics
My question is about focus point
What is the best or preferred method of focus:
1.To pre focus on a spot on the track that is 90* to me
Take finger off prefocus button
Watch cars take off from the Christmas Tree, finger still off the shutter button
When cars are approx 20* off perpendiculiar to me, with the red dot on the car press the shutter button,firing in Continious mode and following the car past me and until they are a further 20*
2. Prefocus on car at the Christmas tree. hold shutter butter so auto focus is locked in
Fully depress shutter button when cars are at 20* off perpendiculiar to me and thru till they are approx 20* from perpendiculiar firing in continious mode
I know shutter speed and aperature is important but I want to get this correct before I make any further adjustments to those 2 settings
Please answer the focus point question and not cloud the answer with ISO , shutter and aperature settings
I'm getting tired of driving 100 miles, baking in 95* heat, $50.00 admissions, taking 150 panning shots and throwing them out
I'm using a T2i with either my 15-85 or 70-200
Thanks again for your help
Mach




  
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DC ­ Fan
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Jul 25, 2012 10:13 |  #2

Panning images from a Canon T2i and how they were achieved.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
Byte size: ZERO | Content warning: NOT AN IMAGE


Focal Length: 267.0mm
Aperture: f/10.0
Exposure Time: 0.0050 s (1/200)
ISO equiv: 100
Exposure Bias: none
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: shutter priority (semi-auto)
White Balance: Auto
Flash Fired: No (enforced)
Orientation: Normal
Color Space: sRGB


IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
Byte size: ZERO | Content warning: NOT AN IMAGE


Focal Length: 150.0mm
Aperture: f/10.0
Exposure Time: 0.0063 s (1/160)
ISO equiv: 100
Exposure Bias: none
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: shutter priority (semi-auto)
White Balance: Auto
Flash Fired: No (enforced)
Orientation: Normal
Color Space: sRGB


It appears you've already figured out the basics. For these images, the T2i was set in AI Servo continuous autofocus and continuous framing. The lens' focal length is set so that the camera will produce a correctly framed image of the car as it passes in front of you. Aim the camera at the car when it stages at the start line, and hold down the shutter button just before the launch. This makes the camera and lens focus on the car when it is still stationary and the autofocus has a better chance to lock on the subject. Keep holding the shutter button down and let the camera take several images in sequence and later pick best the best image from each sequence. Most important is that you need to follow the subject as it approaches and give AI Servo autofocus a chance to track the subject and make its adjustments By getting the subject in frame and using AI Servo focus before it launches, you've minimized the work that AI Servo must perform..

Also be aware that depending on shutter speed, that motion blur may make an image appear out of focus, when it's actually a shutter speed tjhat's too slow. In addition, smooth motion of the camera may take some time and practice to master, and could lead to images that appear out of focus.

And, there's a chance that using only the center focus point may help.



  
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JacobPhoto
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Jul 26, 2012 15:05 |  #3

Are you standing at the track wall, shooting the near lane? Or are you further back?

Mark Rebilas is a big drag racing photographer, he posts all the exif info on his blog. Here's the Drag Racing images:
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?cat=454 (external link)

you'll notice that many of his pan shots are shot with a 70-200, which means he's probably shooting from the 1st or 2nd row in the stands to A) get elevated and B) get more motion in the shot.

some examples:
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=15449 (external link) - 2nd shot down
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=15198 (external link) - 9/10/11/16th shots
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=15113 (external link) - 30th shot (search for the word panning)
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=14717 (external link) - 6th and 9th shots, done with 24-70

Mark is also really good at capturing 'motion' and 'speed' without panning. Shooting things like burnouts, parachutes, tires deforming during the launch, wheelie stands, etc...


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Ontario55
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Jul 27, 2012 10:52 |  #4

For panning I'm in the stands approx 8 rows up. However 8 rows up is irrevelant because not all tracks have the bleachers the same distance from the track
When I look at the info on Mark Rebilas pics (which are awesome) I notice on his panning hes further back than what I am
This weekend I'll try it again and I'll position myself further back and be more aware of my swing
Thanks JacobPhoto and DC Fan for your suggestions



JacobPhoto wrote in post #14773695 (external link)
Are you standing at the track wall, shooting the near lane? Or are you further back?

Mark Rebilas is a big drag racing photographer, he posts all the exif info on his blog. Here's the Drag Racing images:
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?cat=454 (external link)

you'll notice that many of his pan shots are shot with a 70-200, which means he's probably shooting from the 1st or 2nd row in the stands to A) get elevated and B) get more motion in the shot.

some examples:
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=15449 (external link) - 2nd shot down
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=15198 (external link) - 9/10/11/16th shots
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=15113 (external link) - 30th shot (search for the word panning)
http://markjrebilas.co​m/blog/?p=14717 (external link) - 6th and 9th shots, done with 24-70

Mark is also really good at capturing 'motion' and 'speed' without panning. Shooting things like burnouts, parachutes, tires deforming during the launch, wheelie stands, etc...




  
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tomj
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Jul 28, 2012 14:41 |  #5

I don't shoot drag racing, but it seems to me your option 2 is the way to go using AI Servo with center focus point selected.

Are you sure they're out of focus, not blurry from a low shutter speed and poor panning technique? Can you post one?


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Jim ­ M
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Jul 29, 2012 00:36 |  #6

I don't pan that often and when I do, it's from trackside into the far lane simply because there was no other way to photograph the car. When I do, I essentially use method two without the continuous mode. I know I've missed some shots by not using continuous mode, but if I do, I end up with too much to sort through. I've gotten pretty good at seeing the decisive moment by using single shot mode. I think I would start by using a shutter speed that you know you will give you a sharp picture. Don't worry about blurring the background until you can produce the sharp image. Then start slowing the shutter speed until you get the effect you like. Motion blur is much more likely than focus to be your problem.




  
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whuband
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Jul 29, 2012 14:49 |  #7

I think it would be difficult to get a good panning motion in a crowded grandstand without bumping the people next to you. It's pretty hard for me to get a smooth pan without getting my body into it. Could it be that you don't have enough room to follow the car for long enough?


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Ontario55
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Jul 29, 2012 16:00 |  #8

whuband wrote in post #14786425 (external link)
I think it would be difficult to get a good panning motion in a crowded grandstand without bumping the people next to you. It's pretty hard for me to get a smooth pan without getting my body into it. Could it be that you don't have enough room to follow the car for long enough?

Yesterday there was nobody within 100' of me
I was on a hill 1/2 track
I can't use that for an excuse
Mach




  
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Ontario55
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Jul 30, 2012 12:28 as a reply to  @ Ontario55's post |  #9

To Tomj
Heres one from this past weeeknd
Constructive critique or criticism anybody
Need some help here
Thanks


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whuband
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Jul 30, 2012 15:28 as a reply to  @ Ontario55's post |  #10

I'd say you have motion blur in that photo due to technique, but you can expect a lot of blurred photos when panning (at least I do). I also think you need to slow your shutter quite a bit more than that in order to get the effect of speed.
Here's one I shot at a cruise-in on Saturday night at 1/8 second. Don't mind the noise, I was bumping both the limits of my camera and my own panning abilities. You don't get many keepers at 1/8 but the results are great.

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7118/7679156716_bb357d3f46_b.jpg

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tomj
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Jul 30, 2012 16:37 |  #11

That's motion blur. I'd suggest upping your shutter speed to a high enough point that you're getting a sharp image of the car, then start to decrease it as you get better with practice. Don't sacrifice the car being sharp in order to blur the background - you just end up with nothing usable.

I'm terrible at panning. I shoot occasional road races, and I start to run into trouble below 1/200. But it is something you get better at with practice.


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Jim ­ M
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Jul 30, 2012 19:59 |  #12

I consider 1/200 slow for drag racing depending on the lens. Any slower and my panning gets shaky, but I'm an old man. Also, don't forget the basic axiom of shutter speeds – you aren't likely to get a sharp picture at any shutter speed slower than 1/focal length of the lens.




  
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autoidiodyssey
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Jul 31, 2012 22:22 |  #13

I started with a T2i. Here is what I did:

AI Servo, as has been mentioned. Continuous mode. As far as when to focus, I don't know if it really matters that much to start. Especially if you are shooting in Continuous. The most important thing is learning the motion and getting the feel for a smooth pan. As long as your motion is smooth the camera will get the car in focus.

Try starting with the shutter at 1/160. That should give you a good mix of background blur and keepers. If that is not working for you go to 1/200. As you get more comfortable drop the shutter speed.

Here is one at 1/160. T2i with a nifty 250.

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5205/5344344229_fc3ab58fb6_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …utoidiodyssey/5​344344229/  (external link)
1955 Ferrari 750 Monza (external link) by autoidiodyssey (external link), on Flickr

This one is 1/80. T2i with the nifty 250 again.
IMAGE: http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4154/4961625376_86c5ca7dc7_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …utoidiodyssey/4​961625376/  (external link)
1955 Aston Martin DB3S (external link) by autoidiodyssey (external link), on Flickr

This one is 1/20. 7D with 70-200 f4L.
IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7080/7233092812_6d9398cff5_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …utoidiodyssey/7​233092812/  (external link)
1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 (external link) by autoidiodyssey (external link), on Flickr


There is no magic trick to get it right you just have to do it a lot. By a lot I mean thousands of shots, not hundreds. When I shoot a full day at a road race I end up with 1500-2000 shots. 5000-6000 over a weekend. I've only tried drag racing once and it seemed like it would be harder to take that many shots, just not as many cars on the track. Shoot every car you can, not just the ones you like. If you are out there all day you should end up with more than 150 if you are shooting in 3-4 shot bursts. Sure your only good shots might be some crappy old pickup or a riced out Civic, but when you are trying to get the hang of it that doesn't matter.

The first two shots I posted are from 2010, the first two races I went to. Believe me, there was a lot of spraying and praying involved in getting those shots. Eventually I got comfortable with the movement. Midway through last year I was able to take the camera off of Continuous and take just the shot I wanted. That was probably after 5 events and 25,000 shots. (not all pans) Now this year I am starting to drop the shutter speed. The last pic I posted is from earlier this year, 8 events and 40,000 shots maybe?

I think it is also a little easier to pan cars moving faster. It makes sense when you think about it. Try drawing a straight line slowly and it will wobble around some, draw one with a fast motion and it is smooth and straighter. So set up towards the end of the track if you can.

Hope that helps some, good luck.

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dinanm3atl
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Aug 01, 2012 22:33 |  #14

I will echo the others. Just like with anything it is muscle memory and getting a nice smooth pan motion. Also you want to grab focus before you start shooting. Choose you point/area/whatever and get that focus on early. Grab a few shots and then follow through. Push and releasing the shutter is extra movement/motion in the camera. NOT needed or wanted.

And then just work your way down. Using your background, colors and the track can make this very fun. Work on technique first in the 1/160 ballpark. Then start having fun and experimenting a bit. Some of my favorite low speed pans.


1/5

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7108/7677351890_b7cfced2f3_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/dinanm3atl/7677​351890/  (external link)
Multimatic Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage V8 Indianapolis Motor Speedway IMS NASCAR Grand Am Friday 01 (external link) by Halston Pitman | MotorSportMedia (external link), on Flickr


1/30

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5192/7432285140_8a657b6073_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/dinanm3atl/7432​285140/  (external link)
Ford Mustang Brake Lock Up Road America Wednesday 01 (external link) by Halston Pitman | MotorSportMedia (external link), on Flickr


1/25

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7241/7031046175_de80aa9ea7_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/dinanm3atl/7031​046175/  (external link)
Barber 2012 Multimatic Aston Martin Vantage Thursday 02 (external link) by Halston Pitman | MotorSportMedia (external link), on Flickr


1/6

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5036/7432039188_7e960bf3a2_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/dinanm3atl/7432​039188/  (external link)
NASCAR Nationwide 2012 Road America 04 (external link) by Halston Pitman | MotorSportMedia (external link), on Flickr

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chopperdave
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Sep 11, 2012 18:00 |  #15

I did some panning at the dragstrip over the weekend. I didn't read EVERYTHING above, but one of the hard things about being on the line/at the wall and panning is you are moving your plane of focus/sensor angle a ton compared to the subject. So stepping back and shootin gfrom the stands like people mentioned is definitely the way to go.

I will show off the one wider angle pan that worked though, i have to.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO


Maybe I'll post some of my weird failures tonight. I have one where everything but the blower is a blur. It sounds cool, but I didn't like it at all. haha.

David
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I feel like I've gone back in time.

  
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Panning at drag races- Help
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