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Outdoor racing photos at night

Discussion in 'Canon' started by Canon T1i Newby, Jun 19, 2012.

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  1. Canon T1i Newby

    Canon T1i Newby New Member

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    So I've had my T1i for about a year and love learning the nuances of it, although I have little to no idea what a lot of the terms/jargon truly translates to - it's still entertaining. I have recently purchased the 55-250mm lens to help with some of the racing photos as I'm not always permitted inside the track fence. Utilized during the day, GREAT shots and no issues -- then we moved to the night races and the difficulties. I typically utilize the T1i's sports setting and didn't have issues. At night, when I used that setting the shots were dark, grainy, and just plain horrible. I changed to the A-Dep setting and tinkering with several of the included setting options. Some shots, I didn't see to have issues and other's well it looks like a snow storm with the "orbs". True, these races are on dirt so a lot of the issue is the flying dust/dirt. Additionally, the lighting used is a combination of a halogen type utility light and overhead lights - I believe are considered tungsten lights (yellowish/orangish glow). I changed the lighting settings to utilize that feature and included a UV filter which helped with some of the issues as well. I know that I'm probably tossing to many variables in the mix at one time but I wanted to try to get a few good shots before the night ended. I'm thinking of renting a Speedlite 430 or 580 from my local store and didn't know if there were any opinions as to whether or not it would help. I did notice that the camera held as "busy" for longer periods of time so taking multiple action shots at once was nearly impossible. Thanks for any info/advise!
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  2. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    A-dep will automatically set the aperture to maximize depth of field. But that effect will cut down on the amount of light available for your picture. Also A-dep leaves shutter speed entirely to the camera, which is probably not a good idea when shooting action at night.

    Try shooting with your camera in shutter priority (Tv) mode. Set your shutter speed high enough to eliminate any blur - about 1/300 should do it. If you're still getting blur, gradually increase the shutter speed until the blur is eliminated. Increasing the shutter speed will cut down on brightness so, to compensate, your camera should be shooting at a higher ISO - at least 400. Try setting the ISO manually. If the picture isn't bright enough at 400 ISO, try increasing it to 800 and then 1600 ISO. Going higher than 1600 ISO may begin to affect picture quality so don't go there unless it's absolutely necessary to get a well-balanced picture.
     
  3. KCook

    KCook Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Andy on using the Tv mode, though I would try 1/100 sec and pan to follow the target (not easy to do with the viewfinder blacking out when the mirror flips up).

    Orbs are often due to the flash firing, in TV mode you can set the flash to NOT fire. Even those speed lights will not be very effective beyond 50' or so.

    A "busy" camera after firing a burst sequence is typical for this price level. One of the reasons the pro level cameras cost so much more.

    Kelly Cook
     
  4. Canon T1i Newby

    Canon T1i Newby New Member

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    Thank you both, so much! I will try the suggestions this weekend and see what happens :) I'm curious as neither suggested using a different flash, I'm assuming that is due to it not really being a flash type of issue -- especially with the suggestion of turning the flash off? Again, just learning so thanks again! Kelly - I actually had thought about something on the higher level of price and equipment but figured for my first go-round, I would stay with something in the medium range. As my understanding and learning continues, I may venture into the pro level world :) Thanks again!
     
  5. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Flash is only workable if you're fairly close to the subject. Also flash is very distracting and it could be dangerous during a race - and it may not be permitted by the racing venue.
     
  6. KCook

    KCook Well-Known Member

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    As Andy said, flash can be a tricky issue in public venues. It's generally better to try and work with the available light in those situations.

    Action photography, especially with telephoto, and night photography are each a challenge by itself. Doing both at the same time is really biting off a big piece of the apple. Links for more ideas -

    10 Tips for Stunning Action Photography

    Basic Digital Photography: Taking Action Shots – PictureCorrect

    8 Tips for Taking Sports Photos Like a Pro

    Canon DLC: Article Print: Understanding and Comparing Canon Burst Rates

    Kelly
     
  7. Canon T1i Newby

    Canon T1i Newby New Member

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    Thanks again...since my original post, I have tried several of the suggestions and just playing with settings. Some nights, excellent shots - other nights not so great but again I tell everyone it's a work in progress. I have taken the camera to different venues as well and am starting to learn which settings and positioning works better at which track. I am still amazed at the outcome each time I try something new. Thanks again for all the tips!
     
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