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Photography Question 
Jason C. Tyler

How To Shoot Nascar Racing

I'm using a Canon EOS Rebel with a zoom lens up to 300mm. I'll be fairly close to the track. What's the best way and speed to shoot the cars going by?

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8/3/2005 12:03:34 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Well Jason it all depends. Let's say its a perfectly clear day and the sun is crazy bright, i'm sure you could pull off some good speeds on your camera up to around f/11 with film @ ISO 200. I personally would stay around the f/6.7 or f/8.0 range. You might be able to do some f/5.6 or faster if your lens can accomodate. Anyways the last time I went out to the zoo it was perfectly clear and I had some Velvia ISO 50 that I rated to 100 and got the mini cooper shot in my gallery at around 1/250 or 1/350 or so, I can't remember exactly. Anyways, if its overcast I'd recommend getting some ISO 800-1600 film. I really don't know what to recommend. But for a clear day, use ISO 200, this will give you pretty good grain depending on the film, but if its cloudy find a much faster film.

Also, put your camera on manual focus and aim at a certain part of the track and wait for the cars to get in your field of view in the viewfinder then shoot away. You'll have plenty of chances! I'm saying this because it might be hard (I've never done it but am assuming) to focus on the moving cars coming towards you at 180 mph! Good luck, have fun!


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8/3/2005 12:37:02 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Pre-focus and shoot when cars are in frame can work well. With a fast shutter speed (1/250-1/1000) you'll be able to freeze the cars (and any camera shake). A bit harder with a slower shutter speed or if your camera has significant shutter lag (time between pressing the button and the shutter actually opening). Cars caught in frame will have some motion blur imparting the feeling of speed, but your timing has to be perfect or the cars may be gone by the time the shutter opens. The background (and fence between you and the track) will be fairly sharp.

Panning is a good technique to use at the track. You have a better chance of catching the car(s) full in frame. The car you are panning will be sharp, and the background will tend to a horizontal blur - imparting the sensation of speed and it makes the car stand out even at small apertures with deep depth of field. That horizontal blurring also makes the fence much less noticable or distracting in the picture. Depending on the cars speed, your distance from them, and the focal length used, (and practiced technique) one can pan with shutter speeds from 1/250 down to 1/30. Using manual focus and pre-focusing on the spot you anticipate tripping the shutter works for panning as well since you don't want the AF to pick up the fence or a nearby fan instead of the car. When panning - be sure you have room and aren't smacking your lens into the head of the person seated in front of you.

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8/4/2005 6:27:00 AM

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