I had the chance to spend the day yesterday shooting vintage races at the Mosport International Speedway. It was my second time shooting auto-racing and I’m happy with how much better things went this time. I’ve barely scratched the surface of my shots and so far I’ve been more pleased than not with the results.
Some quick tips for those interested:
- Learn the track layout before you go if you can. That way you can try to be in an interesting spot. Corners and hills were more interesting to me than the straightaway.
- Practice at local tracks that will allow you better access. Daytona probably isn’t going to let you just waltz in and shoot at track level. You want to get as close as possible.
- Learn how to pan. Doing it smoothly is the key to getting good side view shots.
- Shoot in shutter priority mode and go as slow as you possibly can. I started at 1/320 if a second but got my best results (spinning wheels, blurry background) at 1/200 or 1/160th of a second. However it was harder to get “sharp” shots this slow. Experiment.
- Try to get as low as you can - shots from overhead looked like shots from the stands. Just OK looking.
- Careful how close you zoom in. I wasted dozens and dozens of shots being too tight on the cars. Missing the back bumper or the nose on an otherwise killer shot is like missing half of someones head on an otherwise killer portrait. Give yourself space in the frame. You can always crop.
- I shot in JPG vs Raw so that I could shoot without choking my bugger, and in continuous burst mode. I also had my camera set to shoot BEFORE focus was achieved instead of waiting for lock-on. I did have more blurry shots, but I missed fewer moments than waiting for my camera to lock and fire.
- Back button focus makes all the difference for me.