Photo Editor: Pedrosa Obscura

Posted on 19 Aug, 2014 by Scott Jones

Please click on the above image to view it larger.

As I wrote on my gear description page, I carry two filters in my standard kit, one of them being a Vari-ND™ Variable Neutral Density Filter by Singh-Ray.

Because most motorcycle racing sessions take place between late morning and early afternoon, harsh sunlight is an unfortunate fact of life for motor sports photographers. I love this ND filter because it lets me use slow shutter speeds in bright sunlight.

I use the 77mm slim version of this filter, which works great on my 70-200mm lens. I can use long shutter speeds at trackside by dialing up the density and allowing less light through the lens.

In pit lane I put the filter on my 24-70mm to get images like the one above. (Note: even the thin version of this filter gives me some unwanted vignetting when zoomed out to 24mm, but hey, that’s what cropping is for. If I’m going to use this filter, I’m going to be shooting at slow shutter speeds, which means I can use a low ISO, which means the Nikon D3X is perfect for this situation. Given its resolution of 6048 x 4032 pixels, I have plenty of wiggle room to crop out the vignetting.)

Here is the raw file:

Here is the Exif screen for this image:

The ND filter allowed me to shoot at 1/8th of a second as I panned with Pedrosa leaving the box. When panning with slow shutter speeds you need some luck to get a useful part of the subject in focus. For me that’s the helmet or the front of the bike. Focus anywhere else looks like a fail.

Once again, because I’m shooting a subject that is moving from dark (inside the pit box) to light (direct sunshine in pit lane) I chose not to use Manual exposure mode. I am on Shutter Priority in order to keep steady at 1/8th second and let the camera adjust the aperture for me.

I got particularly lucky with this one because Dani’s eyes are nice and sharp among the wash of blurred color created by the graphics in the Repsol Honda pit box. The images on either side of this single winner were very colorful but did not show good focus on any appropriate part of the rider or bike:

I could easily have missed them all, which is why time for this type of image is usually claimed once other, higher-percentage shots have been finished.

But I did get lucky and came away with a very satisfactory image. Dani liked it too, and asked for as large a print of it as I could make. At CotA I gave him a 45×30″ print on metallic paper. I’m still waiting for a photo of the framed print.

At Valencia in 2013, Dani signed two copies of this print, which are for sale in the Shop. One is 14×11″ and the other is 24×16″.

Photograph: ©2013 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved

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