A day at Drifting in Springs...

I thought I would share a day of fun and serious challenges..

This was an eye opener, as not only the crowds, the vehicles, the event, but also the almost impossible chance of taking images.

I started out upset that I was not able to see the course clearly due to the very high security fences, but after a few events and 4 crashes I realized how they protect us from flying debris.

Due to the fact that you are not able to pan more than 3 inches with your camera, as the gaps in the fences do not allow any freedom, the vehicles do not always take the line you would expect.

The event is close and very very fast...

Nikon D3 (D3X was seemingly too slow), 70-200mm f2.8 and a lot of luck.

Iso 250, f14, 250th sec, at 200mm focal length.

As the vehicles came closer into the shade I had to set the camera on a higher ISO so that I could maintain the shutter speed of 250th sec, as any slower caused poor strike rate and faster would freeze the action and we would loose the effect of the speed.

Unfortunately the higher Iso when used in the sun gave a very small aperture and a lot of depth of field, which I could not use so I used a panning action to ensure the background would not be sharp and distracting.

This shot is of the vehicle entering the arena at about 140km/h while drifting...

Image edited in Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

While leaving I decided to climb up the stands until I could see over the security fence..

There was 1 spot where the sun caught the vehicles before moving into dark shade.

As I do not own a fast f2.8 long lens I used the D3X body do that I could crop the image later and still have a large image to work with.

Here I focused on seeing the driver as he was a critical part of the process.

The larger file size processed slowly and therefore I chose the moment I wanted and released the shutter just before the vehicle reached the sunny spot, which meant with human delay I caught one image in the sun...

Nikon D3X

200th Sec at f5.6.

Nikon 70-200 f2.8 at 200mm.

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Well done Glen. Lovely photo's

I have spend 1 day at the Swartkop racetrack last year and had the same challenges. My biggest challenge (after the security fence, lack of space to pann etc.) was taking too much photo's.  I spend about 6 hours at the racetrack and came home with just over 5 000 images.

I used a Nikon D7000 with the 70-200mm f2.8 lens and found that RAW was just too much for the camera to process. The buffer filled up too fast. I had to revert to jpg's because by the time that the buffer has cleared all the cars (and bikes) would have passed and I had to wait for them to come back. Later in the day after the trigger happy stage faded I tried to go to the 1 shot mode. To try and anticipate what will happen and where. Get the focus right, finger on the trigger and wait for the car to come to the spot that I chose. I took a lot less photo's but the hit rate was better. Now I could try for different effects with different shutter speeds.

The other challenge that I had was the background. If you found a vantage point where you can take the photo's there is bound to be something in the background that can be distracting.

What I decided to do the next time that I get a chance to go is to take a little steppie (step ladder) along so that you can get higher and get over the barricades.

The other thing that I found interesting was that the photographers that had track access did not have camera's and lenses better than the average person. I did find a group of people with some big mother's of 600mm lenses but they looked and sounded like hobby photographers with too much money. They did not sound like journalists.

All in all I had a great day and want to go back. I think that this is  something that you should try atleast once in your photography career for practice. To anticipate what will happen, practice the panning and to enjoy the colorful cars.

Oh and I found that the monopod that I took to be too cumbersome. Maybe if I had a better head on it to allow better panning it would have been better but I found that I shot easier without the monopod.

Hi Tiaan,

I also struggled with the monopod until i fitted the Wimberley head, It allows vert and horizontal movement easily, but still causes problems if not positioned perfectly... but at the price it is better to try other options...

Wow what awesome photos, I grew up on the race track, back in the days of Formula One at Kyalami .Where in springs is

this track?

google "rock raceway"  brakpan, and you will get the directions..  entrance fee comes as a shock at R100 per person... 


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