Motorsport Photography For Beginners – Part 2: Cameras & Lenses

Tracksider logo 600x200In part one we looked at the different types of camera and why a DSLR is the best choice for fast action/motorsport. I also spoke about how ended up with my kit.

This time around we’re going to have a closer look at the different options we have with lenses and cameras in the Canon range.  Even though we are only talking about one manufacturer the options can still be overwhelming. So the best place to start is to ask yourself; what do I hope to achieve?

Early on I grew frustrated with the limitations of my camera phone and bridge camera. I wanted to achieve the types of pictures you saw in magazines, I wanted to be able to take pictures that I thought were good enough to hang in my house. If your aim is simply to document an occasional visit to a racetrack, then a superzoom/bridge camera, or hiring of a consumer DSLR camera and decent lens, would be the answer.

However, if you want to embrace motorsport photography as a hobby then carefully investing in your own equipment is ideal.
When starting out it is difficult to know if you will stick with a hobby and continue to have passion for it. It’s similar for sports you play – do you invest what is sometimes a scary amount of money upfront for good equipment? Or do you start off with more basic kit and see how you get on? We’ve all done this, you either end up with expensive kit gathering dust, or buy cheap stuff that breaks, or doesn’t perform properly – which you then have to replace.

If you are starting from scratch with no experience of shooting trackside it is very difficult to decide on what equipment you will need. You have no frame of reference to base your decisions upon. But it helps to ask yourself a few questions and look at other peoples work (both amateur & pro) to help you decide what sort of images you like and hope to emulate. This will then help you to make better decisions.

For instance; if you like narrow depth-of-field highly detailed shots that can fill the frame you will more than likely need a long focal length large aperture lens. This will be expensive and heavy, which will limit you getting around the track. But if you like the idea of setting up at one or two corners for the day on a mono pod or tripod then this route maybe for you.

WEC Toyota TS040 Hybrid shot with Canon 550D and 200mm F2.8 L Lens at F2.8, 1/2000
WEC Toyota TS040 Hybrid shot with Canon 550D and 200mm F2.8 L Lens at F2.8, 1/2000
F1 Martini Brabham BT44 shot with Canon 550D and 200mm F2.8 L lens at F2.8, 1/4000
F1 Martini Brabham BT44 shot with Canon 550D and 200mm F2.8 L lens at F2.8, 1/4000

Continue reading Motorsport Photography For Beginners – Part 2: Cameras & Lenses

MotoGP: Rossi, Lorenzo & Marquez – Three Champions

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Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez. Multiple world champions one and all.

Have you ever noticed how those that hold a single world title carry themselves with a certain dignity? Nicky Hayden, Jenson Button, Damon Hill – all well respected, rounded individuals (well, apart from Kimi that is!).

But multiple world champions, no. They all tend to have a major character defect caused by one thing – ruthlessness. Lewis Hamilton, Mick Doohan, Ayrton Senna, Casey Stoner, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and the three MotoGP stars mentioned above. They will sacrifice everything to be the best. As demonstrated last season. The ego’s of the multiple champions were fully on display for all of us to behold. And it wasn’t pretty.

Before I go any further I will state the following to make quite clear my allegiances: Channel 5 in the UK began showing MotoGP on terrestrial TV in 2000. This happened to coincide with Valentino Rossi moving up to the top 500cc 2-stroke category. The conclusion of his ‘learn in the first year, win the championship the next approach’ in the junior categories extended on into the premier class. His demeanour and fun loving personality, post race stunts and boundless enthusiasm for motorcycle racing was fantastic to witness – fun and entertainment in motorsport, really?

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Continue reading MotoGP: Rossi, Lorenzo & Marquez – Three Champions

Live Albums: My Top Picks

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These are my favourite Live Albums, the ones that I listen to regularly, that I connect with. Certainly not a definitive collection of ‘Greatest Live Albums EVAH’. More a collection that brightens my day and hopefully contains one or two that are new to you, inspiring you to investigate ‘em further. Also, they’re not ranked, ‘cos I like ‘em all!

Pearl Jam – Live At Benaroya Hall (2004)

Ahhh, yeah…. full disclosure; I’ve been a mega fan of Pearl Jam ever since I first heard Ten in my teenage years. Their back catalogue overflows with live material, mainly because they decided to release every gig they play as an official bootleg. However, Live At Benaroya Hall was released by their record company as a full 2 CD release.

As it’s 2004 it doesn’t contain their latest material. But it does contain the classics, some rarities and some covers. All played pretty much acoustically. Beautifully recorded and rare for a live album – the audience actually adds to the ambience. But the greatest thing about it is it’s warts ’n all; the mistakes are left in and talked about, the in-between ramblings from Eddie, the interplay between band members.

If I feel like some Pearl Jam but can’t decided which album, this is a no-brainer for instant gratification. A corker. On headphones or a good hi-fi you feel like you are there.

Highlights for me are, erm, all of it! But especially “Man Of The Hour” written for Tim Burton’s Big Fish movie, the Ten epic “Black” and Victoria Williams cover and set staple “Crazy Mary”.

If you enjoy this but want the band fully electrified try the Live At The Gorge boxset (7 CD’s!). For more acoustic awesomeness look for their Unplugged session (it also came as a bonus DVD with the Ten Redux release). Continue reading Live Albums: My Top Picks