One of the most exciting aspects of photography for me has been capturing exciting Action & Motion.

To share an image of high impact and elements of motion will stop most people in their tracks...
There are obviously challenges to obtaining the perfect action image, and for me the biggest challenge is showing motion and separating the subject from the background. The next aspect that we are forced to work with is the lighting, and nature can be harsh at the best of times. Motocross for instance seems to take place not only during the harshest midday sun, but the courses always seems to have the sun at the worst angle for the obstacle...
As I found out this weekend, the sun and I were not working together and the action always seemed to be facing directly into the sun... so I decided to use the lighting to my advantage and break the rules by shooting not only in the harsh afternoon sun, but also directly into the sun...

To achieve this I had to set the camera on manual and expose for the shadow side of the rider (ISO 200, 250th Sec @ f8.0) and not the overall reading or I would have had a stunning silhouette of the rider if I trusted the light meter at 1000th sec @ f16...

If I had chosen a faster shutter speed I would have lost the sense of motion by having sharp frozen wheels etc, yet if I slowed the shutter down anymore (which I obviously tried) I would have shown great movement and blurring of wheels but I would have extended my depth of focus and lost the separation of the subject from the out of focus background.
I waited until there was a cloud of dust in the background and as the sun lit up the dust it highlighted the sun's rays to give a non distracting background and focus the attention on the main subject... oh that leads me to focus... I had to use manual pre-focus as your auto focus system did not enjoy cameras being pointed directly into the sun.

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Goed gedoen Glen...Tx!

Thanks very much for this Glen, I too have been trying to capture fast action in motor-sports and motor cross with many challenges. Your photos are great and thanks for sharing your settings it always helps to learn from others!
I thought I would add a larger version of the image showing harsh backlighting used to separate the subject...

Very cool images. Dust must be a problem. I guess you try not to change lenses very often.

Sport or action photo's are not always about freezing the action, but also showing speed and movement.

I found that when shooting the popular MX Jump, it looks very static when shot at a higher shutter speed while lowering the shutter speed has shown movement in the wheels and blurred the wheels slightly. Top_ 400th sec @ f11  Bottom Image_ 200th sec @ F3.2 (Note these images were taken especially to illustrate the different shutter speeds... and not to win any awards)

Another sample of slow vs fast shutter speeds. Top _ 640th sec @ f11, bottom 250th Sec @ f10.  Clearly panning assists with keeping the subject in the image long enough to obtain a sharp image, but as there is no background to blur with panning, the image becomes static. The only way to now show movement is to lower the shutter speed so that the wheels blur... caution, too slow and you will never get a sharp image...

Gr8 post Glen, very informative


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