Motocross Photography – A Personal Project.
Photographing motocross is something I’ve been planning to have a go at for a while and had the chance recently at Southport’s Leisure Lakes MX.
Motocross Photography Gallery.
I am not a motocross photographer but I’ve photographed lots of motorsports and really enjoy it. Maybe it’s just a bloke thing but anything going fast, making lots of noise and jumping over stuff is cool.
Motocross Photography Tips.
Most of the time you want to create a crisp sharp photograph but with fast-moving stuff like motocross photography and motorsports, in general, you want to create a sense of speed and motion.
You do this by what is known as “dragging the shutter” That’s just technical way of saying using slower shutter speeds.
Motocross Photography Settings.
Motocross Photography Gear.
Like many things photography, don’t get caught up with gear. I knew I would be taking photographs in muddy areas so I took an older camera and lens that I didn’t mind getting dirty.
- Camera – Canon 40D
- .Lens – Sigma 18-250 variable aperture.
This is a very inexpensive setup and a good camera to grab when you want something that’ll deal with most types of photography as long as you have reasonable light.
This will depend on the lighting conditions and exactly what sort of effect you want to achieve. As a rule stutter speed should be the primary setting. I’ll go into that more in a minute.
Use as much of your aperture as possible, In this case, I had f3.5 at 18mm. This will give you a starting point. You can fine-tune your exposure with your ISO. In very bright situations consider a neutral density filter too.
- Shutter 1/100th to 1/160th.
- Aperture 3.5 (or as low as your lens can give you).
- ISO 200
- Focal length 18mm
Motocross Photography Technique.
You want a shutter speed that matches the speed the vehicles as they are going past you. Slow enough to blur the background but fast enough to get a crisp image of the bike and rider.
The closer you are the easier it will be but first, make sure you are in a safe place. Second, give yourself a room within the frame to allow for the bike and some background.
Practice panning – As the bike passes keep it in the centre of the frame in your viewfinder and follow it as it passes. Do this for a little while until you get the feel and feel like you are able to keep the bike in the same position in the frame.
Pre-focus – Maybe your camera will catch focus but sometimes it will miss and that’s generally going to be the best shot of the day. I like to pick the spot I will take the photograph, set my focus, that way I know when I hit the shutter it will take the shot and not start hunting for focus.
The closer you are to the subject and the further away the background is the easier it will be to get a background that gives a feeling of speed. The added other benefit is that you can use slightly faster shutter speeds to give you a crisper shot of the rider.
Of course, the opposite is also true. If you were a good distance away and for example shooting at 200mm with a background relatively close to the subject it becomes more difficult to get this effect.
In this case, maybe try not panning and have a crisp background and have the blur in the vehicle to give a sense of speed and movement.
Of course, this isn’t restricted to just motocross photography. I was recently invited to photograph touring cars and the same principals applied. See that album here>>
In the future, I’d like to take time to set up some strobes and have a more controlled environment so I can get some really dramatic and stylised motocross photographs.
With a little practice, you never know you could be one of the many professional motocross photographers.
Thank you for reading.
This is just a selection of the Motorcross pictures I took on the day and when I get back to the UK I will arrange to go to another motocross event and take some more pictures with what I learned from photographing this event.
If you like these pictures then please help me out by hitting like and sharing them with one of the social media buttons below. It will help others to find them too. You never know one day I might become one of the famous motocross photographers and you can say you helped by sharing my work.
- Park Office: Mere Brow.
- Tarleton, Preston.
- PR4 6JX
- Tel: 01772 813 446
- Web: www.leisurelakes.co.uk
A little information about Leisure Lakes in Southport.
The Leisure lakes have much more than just Motocross racing. Check them out if you are interested in:
- Golf. – They have a lovely par-3 nine-hole course and the Golf Acadamy.
- Camping and caravaning. – Set in 300 achers they have great facilities for family camping.
- Jet Ski. – The lakes are the ideal training ground to hone your jet ski skills.
- Horse riding. – their equestrian centre and bridal walks through the woods have all you need.
- Outdoor activities. – There is always something going on. take a look at their website for upcoming events.
- Motocross MX. – Of course, there are regular events. check out the website for details.
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