Motorcycle Photography | Shooting the Fast Ones

By Uncle Frank, Photography by Unknown

On the other hand, a view-point from above the object being photographed results in a dwarfed appearance, thus producing a feeble picture, so to speak. Such a view-point, being the opposite from the “worm’s eye view” from the ground, results in the opposite effect. In the vast majority of cases, however, the normal eye-level will give the most consistently satisfactory pictures, hence should be used most.

In all these matters, it goes without saying that no hard and fast rules can be given. The whole thing is a matter of experience and practice. As you go along, you will soon come to know the limits of your particular camera and will be able to work accordingly. Not only do cameras differ as to make and type, but you will find that lighting conditions vary not only from day to day, but even hour to hour. From this it can be seen how impossible it is to do more than outline mere approximations. Photography is at best, an individual problem, and as such cannot very well be governed by definite rules or laws.

There are details in this business of photographing speeding motorcycles. Take for example the matter of lens diaphragm as applied to the shutter speed, which must of necessity be left unaltered because of the speed of the object. It stands to reason that if the shutter speed is increased, the lens diaphragm (or stop, as some call it) must be opened proportionately to compensate for the shutter. On the other hand, it is desirable to get as much depth of field in the picture as possible, and this is controlled by closing the lens diaphragm. In the case of speeding motorcycles, where a fast shutter speed is absolutely necessary, we cannot close the lens diaphragm down for the sake of depth unless, of course, the sunlight is of sufficient intensity. The whole matter depends greatly upon light conditions. Of considerable help in this matter is an extra fast film which will permit a partial closing of the lens diaphragm for the sake of depth, in spite of the fast shutter speed.

The small miniature cameras are ideally suited to speed work, because, owing to their comparatively short focal length, they have an inherent depth of field, even when the diaphragm is wide open. This, plus the fact that most of these baby cameras are equipped with fast lenses, makes them especially useful for, because of the fast lens, high shutter speeds can be used even on dark, cloudy days, without a sacrifice of exposure. Most cameras used in this work have lenses with a speed of at least f :3.5, and more often they run as fast as f:2, and f:l.9. Unfortunately less expensive cameras are equipped with slow lenses whose speed is around f:6.3, f:7.7, and in the case of the box type camera, such as the “Brownie,” f:11-which is indeed very slow and requires slow shutter speeds in bright sunlight.

A useful accessory when afield with the camera is a lens-shade or sun-shade. This device protects the lens from unwanted, non-image-forming light rays which tend to rob the picture of its snap and contrast. Those hazy pictures you sometimes get are often the result of stray light passing through the lens and onto the film thus veiling it. A good sun-shade is very inexpensive, and is many times worth its cost. By all means get one for your lens and know that all of your pictures will be safeguarded from this insidious defect which is often puzzling and always detrimental.

In short, when photographing motorcycle races and hillclimbs, be sure of your ground, photographically speaking, and you will return home with a batch of fine pictures. You will have no need to make excuses when the gang asks to see some of your results.

By Uncle Frank
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