BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
 

Night Action Shots - HELP!


 
 
I am using a Fuji S5000. I took it to the races last night and tried like crazy to get a few good shots of the cars flying by.

I tried using auto mode, night mode, action mode, auto mode with flash, manual mode with flash, with the shutter speeds set to fast and the aperture set wide open (which got me a lot of almost black images with a wee bit of light streaking).

I am going to try to upload two of the better ones (which, if it works, you'll see aren't good at all). One was taken with the flash in action mode, and it came out more clear, but VERY dark. The other was taken in action mode (i believe) without flash, and while it IS brighter, there is more blur in the image.

How do I compensate for this? Even in manual with flash, they came out WAY too dark. I look on the speedway's website and see the race pictures their photographer takes and I just get more frustrated! (of course he has the high-dollar, professional equipment.)

Thanks, folks!


To love this question, log in above
5/8/2005 5:55:31 AM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
 
 
 
I have never been able to get an image to load within a question and am going to try again. sorry bout this.


To love this comment, log in above
5/8/2005 6:00:13 AM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
 
 
 
Ok, the above image was taken with the flash. Am going to try to upload the one without the flash.


To love this comment, log in above
5/8/2005 6:04:04 AM

 
Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/1/2004
  Hi Julie:
I am looking at the shot with flash on the Q&A page. First, I hope you were using a tripod. It is almost impossible to capture action shots at night without the use of one. Second, I notice the BRIGHT lighting bank at the top of the picture. If you focused in this area it may fool the autofocus. I usually aim at something darker, press the shutter release half way, then recompose. It is possible to get good to excellent night pictures with the fujiS500, however it takes practice and patience.
Regards
Gary.


To love this comment, log in above
5/8/2005 10:56:34 AM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
  Gary,

Hi, and thanks...i wasn't using a tri-pod this time. And I didn't even think about the lights messing with the autofocus, tho I was focusing in on the track, itself. But, too, the light reflecting off of the track may have been too bright, so next time I'll find something a little darker to start with.

I was worried that maybe the camera wouldn't DO something like that, and am relieved that it's ME and not the camera! Now I won't be so frustrated!

Thank you for your response!

Julie


To love this comment, log in above
5/8/2005 12:03:24 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Don't bother using the flash when you're more than about 20 feet from your subject.

You got ok exposure in the second pic (maybe a touch overexposed), and nice handholding technique - sharp speedway name on the wall. But the shutter speed is too slow to freeze the cars. Now you have to practice panning the camera with the cars as you press the shutter button. This will keep the cars sharp and blur/streak the background horizontally.


To love this comment, log in above
5/9/2005 7:25:08 AM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
  Jon...

Panning? I hope that is easier than walking and chewing gum at the same time! ha ha...

Ok, no flash, and pan. They race again in two weeks...you KNOW I'll be out there shooting my tail off...

Thank you for your help!

:)

Julie


To love this comment, log in above
5/9/2005 5:56:45 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Julie - Another thing to keep in mind is the angle between the car's path and your lens. If you look at your second photo, you'll see that the cars that are coming toward your lens are sharper than the cars that are passing perpendicular to your lens. Your position on the "corner" of the track is a good one, because you can take some shots of cars coming toward you, and other shots using the panning technique that Jon describes above on the cars passing in front of you. If you are sitting along the straights, you'll pretty much have to stick to the panning.

The panning technique can look really cool once you get the hang of it.

Have fun!


To love this comment, log in above
5/9/2005 7:48:34 PM

 
Jennifer Erst
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/18/2005
  I went recently to a race track to shoot pictures and from the spectator areas there really isnt a place close enough to get your flash to work for you. I noticed one guy in the midfield. Right in the action...close enough for flash to help freeze action and the lights on the course work with him. Of course You couldnt pay me to do that, but I saw his pics and they were GREAT!


To love this comment, log in above
5/10/2005 1:16:44 PM

 
Cynthia A. Gallo Callan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/29/2004
Contact Cynthia
Cynthia's Gallery
  Panning with a digital camera? I've had some experience with it with my K1000 -- it brings some really cool effects. I wonder if they have any techniques on it on this site? Any recommendations?


To love this comment, log in above
5/18/2005 7:30:46 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Cynthia - panning with a digital camera is no different than with your K1000, you just need to be able to set a slower shutter speed.


To love this comment, log in above
5/18/2005 7:54:42 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  The flash being used by the guy in the infield that Jennifer observed is undoubtedly MONDO.

A friend of mine shoots local sprint car races from the infield . . . much as Jennifer describes. His "flash" is actually a small portable battery powered studio strobe with small bowl reflector . . . mounted on a flash bracket. He wears the large battery slab using a shoulder strap. IIRC, it's a Norman or Lumedyne. The "power" of these types of lights are measured in watt-seconds (or joules) . . . likely 200 watt-second (nothing less than 150). The Guide Number . . . with which you are likely familiar for camera mounted flash . . . is somewhere around 160-200 . . . enormous compared to what you have on your camera. One of Quantum's Q-flashes with Turbo battery would be in the same class. Even with all that, he's still panning with the car(s) as they go around the track.

You might be able to do it from the stands with flash if you want to pay some big $$$ for something like that (and haul around the bracket and battery). Much more practical from the stands is working at developing panning skills that Jon and Chris describe . . . and it is a skill that takes a little work to learn . . . but once you have it, your photos will look great too.

-- John Lind


To love this comment, log in above
5/18/2005 8:35:00 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  I was just reading through and noticed you said that you hoped panning wasn't as hard as walking and chewing gum at the same time. I wasn't sure if that meant that you knew what it was or not. You've probably by now gathered some info on it but it's just when you follow the movement of the subject with your camera using a shutter speed that you would normally not hand hold the camera at. When you watch the cars go around without the camera, and your head moves from side to side, that is panning. Continuously moving side to side, you just happen to snap the shutter too.


To love this comment, log in above
5/20/2005 10:00:44 PM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
  Hi, Everyone...

I've been coming back to read responses over the last week or so and have gotten some great information. :) Thank you!

Andrew, panning I've done with a video camera, but never a digital camera...I imagine there's a bit of practice that goes into this technique, so if you see someone at the side of the highway taking pictures, that'd be me practicing, ha ha. :) I'm just not the most coordinated individual in the world. I think it's going to be the shutter speed that gets me. Am going to try practicing this evening with different settings, probably using the shutter priority and letting the camera pick the f-stops for me.

Should I have success, I'll post something in the morning, provided I can get up on the stand where I went last time. (We sit trackside on the ground ane I took advantage of a vacant deer-stand type structure when I shot the last photos.) Normally I get GREAT pictures of the chain link fence that separates the track from me. :)

If anyone knows of a technique I can use to shoot THROUGH chain link, let me know! ;)

Julie


To love this comment, log in above
5/21/2005 6:40:46 AM

 
Alisha L. Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/30/2005
  Hi Julie. I don't know a whole lot just some, but I do KNOW for SURE that at night you have to listen to Gary & USE YOUR TRIPOD!!!! That is a MUST!!!! Otherwise you're going to get camera shake & really no matter what setting you use they probably won't turn out!! I've learned this the hard way!!! USE A TRIPOD!!!! Good luck!!!


To love this comment, log in above
5/21/2005 6:52:19 AM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
  Hi, Alisha,

Thanks...so can you pan at an angle with the tripod, or would the tripod better serve as a tool to kill the camera shake? (I've got so many new things to try tonite, I can't wait to get there!)

Again, thanks to all of you guys! (I LOVE this site!)


To love this comment, log in above
5/21/2005 7:00:43 AM

 
Raymond Chippa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/16/2005
  I owned the S5000 before I bought my 20D. I never used it for action shots because of the lag time with the shutter.. way too many blurry pics. But, I have to agree with what is common in this post. The tripod does help.. A LOT. I'd say to get a remote also, but I'm pretty sure they don't have one for the s5000.

Good luck.


To love this comment, log in above
5/21/2005 4:51:38 PM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
  Hi, Raymond,

Nope, no remote...which is one of the few things I don't like about the camera...Time exposures are not happening. The other thing I dislike is the shutter lag...I don't notice it much, but when I do, I REALLY do.

Because I walked out of the house without spare batteries or my charger, I ran out of power prior to sundown, but did manage to try that panning thing out from the stand I snuck onto. ;) From what I could see on the playback before the batteries croaked, the panned shots came out fairly decent. I bet they'd be good with some practice. I'll try and upload one tomorrow.

Thanks, all, again for all the input!

Julie


To love this comment, log in above
5/21/2005 8:09:20 PM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
 
 
 
Well, after getting things uploaded last night here is a slice of what I came up with Of course, it was different in the daylight, but I did get the hang of panning (in good light)


To love this comment, log in above
5/22/2005 6:50:36 AM

 
Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
 
 
 
Sometimes I cannot navigate around the "add images" area, as you can plainly see from the above post.


To love this comment, log in above
5/22/2005 6:54:29 AM

 
Daniel Diaz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/20/2005
  Much nicer picture, Another thing to consider in low light is your ISO, I'm surprised no one mentioned it yet, I belive the S5000 can go up to 800, try different ISO settings in low light, they can do wonders but they also add noise!


To love this comment, log in above
5/22/2005 5:59:11 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.