Motorsport help needed for clueless photographer

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by solidute, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. solidute

    solidute New to Mu-43

    Jul 10, 2013
    Hi all,

    I'm very new to photography and my Olympus ep3. I am currently at the Melbourne formula 1 Grand Prix and am literally trying to get a decent photo or 2 to take home, obviously a few hundred would be great but beginners can't be choosers (or something like that)

    I tried to get some shots yesterday but my camera would only focus on the fence wire or wouldn't take quick enough bursts to capture the cars.

    I have absolutely no knowledge of photography apart from the odd thing picked up searching forums but no knowledge on how to use any of it so auto mode is used mainly on the scene selection and sports mode (please forgive poor terminology) I'm also using the 40-150mm lens that came in the kit to get a closer zoom as the 14-42mm lens just doesn't get close enough. I have no tripod or monopod either.

    So basically I'm hoping someone can give me a pointer or 2 to help me get a few good shots.

    Your help is much appreciated.

    I will say I would have done a photography course by now but the problem is there isn't anything in my part of the country and would mean a few hours in the car to get to one. I know time spent I the field is also a good learning tool but due to life commitments, eg children and work, I don't yet have that experience either.
  2. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Real Name:
  3. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    EP3 and Olympus 40-150. If it were me,
    -I would put the EP3 in manual focus mode and high speed burst mode.
    -Set ISO in AUTO with a high limit of 1600 (because you have an EP3)
    -In menu C, make sure RLS Priority S (first line) is turned off. This allows the camera to fire if exposure is off.
    -Use S priority, starting with 1/400 second, shoot some test shots, to see if there's enough light for exposure .Adjust ISO higher or set shutter slower if needed.

    Now find a spot where you want to place the shot. Manually focus the 40-150 on the spot with no cars. Now when cars go by, pan them with the EP3 and click away. Manual focus of the zoom can be a pain in the neck. Maybe a better plan for you is to leave it in S-AF mode, prefocus on the spot with a half shutter press and hold the button there til cars come around. Edit: If you pan, set IS to IS2 or turn it off.

    I normally do this on my cameras by programing a button for focus so the lens only focuses with that button. Then I can pre-focus and the lens will stay there.That's a longer discussion.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    Harry has given you all of the necessary settings for the EP3. Shooting in manual focus mode is a must because the catch fencing will throw your autofocus off whether you are panning (following and matching the car's speed from side to side) or have fixed on a location for your shot.

    Panning will allow you to some extent to blur out the fencing, but only if the shutter speed is kept low enough. I suggest starting with a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second, and gradually reducing to 1/125th and then 1/60th. The slower the shutter speed, the greater the background and the foreground fence will be blurred out (in the case of the fencing, eliminated). If you manage to match your panning speed to the movement of the car, only the car will be in clear focus. The panning technique takes time to master, so keep practicing until you have it timed perfectly.

    I believe the Melbourne track is basically flat with catch fencing for most of the way around. Don't stay stuck in the stands, but walk around the entire circuit to see openings between the fencing for a clear view of the track and cars. Walking the entire perimeter of the track is something I always do at a new track I am visiting to find ideal locations to shoot from.

    Don't forget to explore the garage area to take still photos of parked race cars, team trailers, team motorhomes, mechanics, and fans. Capturing the ambiance of the race weekend is just as enjoyable as capturing the race cars themselves.

    Below is some inspiration for you. Good luck.




    • Like Like x 1
  5. solidute

    solidute New to Mu-43

    Jul 10, 2013
    Cheers guys. No offence but it still seems above my head, I don't know how to change some of those settings as yet and still can't figure out how to manual focus either... I've tried some of the manual settings but don't know enough about what I'm doing to know how to use them so I tend to take real crappy pics with them. I got a few reasonable ones yesterday on auto from my seat as I had an uninterrupted view of about 10 metres of a corner, turn 1, so I should have enough pics for what I wanted to do.

    Thanks heaps for the help and I'll try and learn what I'm doing BEFORE I go somewhere next time. I'll take these tips into account and see if I can learn on the fly at the track today and get some better pics.

    Thanks again much appreciated
  6. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    Don't give up. My passion in photography was in part driven by a desire to capture motorsports images.I remember hanging off of the side of the grandstands at Long Beach GP back in the late 70s trying to get a clear shot over the fencing as the cars went by. I couldn't afford the cost of film or developing back then, so my skills didn't develop as quickly as I wanted. With digital cameras, the only constraint is the size of your memory cards, the number of batteries in your pocket, and your physical stamina, so you can practice like mad. With instant feedback, you can experiment with various shutter speeds, angles, and framing.

    Before next year's race, you'll want to master camera controls and practice shooting cars along the highways. Practice makes perfect.
  7. solidute

    solidute New to Mu-43

    Jul 10, 2013
    unfortunately i wont be at next years race, it was a bit of a treat for me to go to this one. i really want to be able to learn how to use this camera for some action shots as a lot of my familys life is outdoors.

    i wont be giving up i just wish there was a "cheat sheet" for the functions of these cameras. trying to scroll through the user manual and learn how to use each button and then how to change settings isnt the easiest thing for a newcomer. and just to make it harder there arent any courses close enough for me to go. but anyway...

    here is 2 shots i got that are among the clearer ones taken. once again it was on auto - scene - sports using the 150 lens. forgive the size i resized them using Microsoft office picture manager, but otherwise untouched.



    once again thanks for the help and advice its given me a few pointers for the future. and if anyone has a set of how to cheat sheets for the use of these cameras id be very grateful for them


  8. Dewi

    Dewi Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 11, 2014
    Lancashire, England
    Real Name:
    You need to widen your aperture and slow down your shutter speed, then learn to pan whilst keeping the subject sharp. That will give you the basics to build on, it'll give the impression of speed and seperate your subject from the background. For serious motorsport I'd take a DSLR over a m43.

    There are some motorsport shots on my website which may give you some idea of what to aim for, the top link of the two in my sig below. If you want to carry on shooting motorsport and need any help send me a pm.
  9. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Real Name:
    Whilst Panning produces the best shots it takes quite a bit of practice to master (and even then has a fairly low success rate). I don't think it's appropriate for an absolute beginner. A wider aperture would certainly help loose the fence, it also helps if the fence is as close to the camera as possible if you can't avoid it being in the way. Fencing is the bane of all amateur motorsport photographers!

    Paddock access at F1 is very limited even with a VIP pass. Though there might be access to the paddock for the support races. Champ cars are so much better in this regard!

    Damo's 2 images could be cropped to close in on the cars. Whilst not capturing the movement they're not totally useless, and much better than many beginners end up with.

    If you don't get much access to motorsport the local freeway is a good place to head for to practice panning technique, and practice will certainly be needed.:tiphat:
  10. solidute

    solidute New to Mu-43

    Jul 10, 2013
    Cheers guys

    I'll probably never take up serious photography, we'll not serious enough to justify spending and owning a lot of stuff, but as I've said previously I don't have easy access to photography courses without significant travelling so as a result I don't know my way around the camera enough to fiddle with the settings. I did find a "cheat sheet" for the basic use of aperture , ISO etc, but without the knowledge of how to change them they. Aren't much chop for me at this stage. I also feel the user manual is written for someone who has done a beginners class or better and for the complete dummy like myself it's too vague for my understanding.

    I agree my techniques need a lot of work as well as my composition. But for my purpose the few pics I took from the position above are exactly what I want, a clear image of the car. I got a few others that are just as clear and a few others that are a little bit blurred, but as this was my only clear shot of the cars on the track I'm pretty happy with them. My first day all I got was blurry colours as the cars went past but the fence was clear as life... Not happy there... So when I saw I had a small area of track with no fence I snapped as many as I thought I could without filling up my, at the time, only memory card so it would last the day.

    As for the advice about walking around the whole track looking for good viewing points, I didn't have that opportunity as I went with my wife and we also didn't spend all day every day at the track so movement and time were somewhat limited. I got a few good pit lane shots when we did a walk on the first day but due to the thousand or so other people doing the same vantage points were hard to come by.

    When we were looking at cameras we were set on a Nikon 3200, 5200 or a canon 600d or something like that but when we went to the store to buy one (diamonds cameras in Adelaide) they pretty much listened to our needs and pointed us in the direction of the Olympus. Apparently they are photographers after hours and the Olympus was where most of their paid shots came from (as for how much truth is in that I'm not sure as I have a deep mistrust of salespersons from too many bad dealings) and it was the speed the pics were taken that impressed my wife enough to get it. Our old camera was a Fuji xp30 compact digital and it never took a quality image and missed a lot of kids photos as it took too long once the button was pressed.

    Hope that explains why we have a m43 not dslr :)

    I will also check out your website as I'm keen to improve.

    Thanks again guys, much appreciated. Just hope I've explained why I'm so crap at this caper and that I'm keen to get better (if I can work out how to use the camera...)

    P.s. Those images are uncropped but I intend to crop out most of the image around the cars for my project as I basically just want the car, and to say yes I did take that photo not pinched it from the internet, or bought it.
  11. solidute

    solidute New to Mu-43

    Jul 10, 2013

    Just looked back at the pics I posted and the resized quality is much worse than the original when zoomed right in...

    Just saying =)