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Extreme Air

By clarebear26
I took this shot of a BMX stunt rider at Banbury Show this year. I knew I wanted a grungy, black and white action shot, and I planned to shoot into the sun. The sun didn't appear properly, but I got some compositions that I am happy with. I love the shape of this one.

I would appreciate any constructive criticism on whether I have achieved a good, solid action shot and any advice that might improve it. Thanks

Tags: Bmx Action sports Sports and action Banbury Show

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banehawi Plus
17 2.6k 4274 Canada
10 Jun 2019 3:21PM
Hi Clare, welcome to EPZ.

Youve marked this for critique, so you know what the critique gallery is all about.

Youve caught the moment well, and its reasonably sharp.
The title, Extreme Air, suggests he is high in the air, however, being zoomed in so far, and also using a wide, landscape format, tends to work against that sense of height. Less zoom, further back, or holding the camera in a portrait mode would all help get the "high in the air" feel.

Youve post processed this as desired, so theres not really a lot more feedback I can think of. You've used Aperture Priority mode, and generally with action shots, you should use Shutter priority the get that best chance of a sharp shot, however, the shutter speed the camera selected worked fine. Using +1 also a good idea for a backlit subject. The +1, in Aperture mode, slows the shutter speed by 1 stop, so without that, the shutter speed would have been 1/4000th. In shutter priority mode, if you set the shutter at 1/4000th, you would need ISO 1000 to get that extra exposure since youre at maximum aperture.


paulbroad 14 131 1293 United Kingdom
10 Jun 2019 4:29PM
A good effort and whatever the correct method, you have achieved a good result. Not keen on the tatty edge presentation, though.

I would prefer more bike in frame. I find myself looking at the part bike, not the figure, as I'm trying to sort out the orientation in my mind. you need enough bike in frame to clearly show the juxtaposition of bike and what - hopefully - was and will be - the rider.

10 Jun 2019 5:44PM
I can understand why you "like the shape" of this... considered as an abstract, a division of space with line and tone, it works well.
The problem, for me, is that it isn't an abstract... it's representational, but you've cut off the narrative. There's not enough context.

We need the bike
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1884 England
10 Jun 2019 9:29PM
And welcome from me, too.

All the technical settings are sensible, and I like the shape, too.

Is there enough of the bike? Maybe, and also maybe a wider shot would have had a messy background (the trees are already creeping into this...) Is it impressionistic, like a brief flash of action in a Hollywood movie, or would a fully-grounded, 'this is what really happened' image be better? I suspect it would be more descriptive, and lass exciting. This requires my imagination to fill in more.

You've really caught the right moment - and part of me really, REALLY hopes that you did it by timing perfectly, rather than blazing away at maximum frame rate.

11 Jun 2019 8:28AM
Thank you very much all for your time and constructive comments. I was interested to know how others perceived the cut off bike. I actually really like it like this, but maybe that's because I was there and I haven't quite told the story well enough with a single frame. I've got plenty of shots with the bikes in frame and with the true sense of 'air', but for some reason, this is my favourite. Very much appreciate the comments that it doesn't tell the story convincingly, as it will help me to pick a better representation of the story next time.

dudler, I did use burst mode to capture this, but only fired off about 3/ shots, so not full blazing away, but not a single shot either. And no cropping, post. Although I knew it didn't give the sense of height, I did deliberately zoom in on this one as I knew I had other shots with more context - it seems I should have posted those Smile

Thanks again for your time - that has really helped me.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2465 United Kingdom
11 Jun 2019 9:37AM
I'm a bit late here, but this is something that I photograph regularly and I'm impressed by the timing and technical quality here. Two points above that I agree with though:

Don't zoom right in, allow more space for a sense of height - you only convey that if there is open air below the rider.

And this is essentially photojournalism, so keep the presentation straight, avoid arty effects.

I hope we'll see more!
11 Jun 2019 9:44AM
Thank you very much, Moira. Brilliant to have advice from someone experienced in this area.

I'm not normally a fan of frames around photos, but for some reason I was compelled to do it with this shot! I'll take it off and see how it looks, along with the burnt edges.
dark_lord Plus
17 2.9k 786 England
11 Jun 2019 9:30PM
Welcome from me too.

Timing is spot on. Even with 'burst' mode you need to get that timing right otherwise you can end up with loads of images that not the best!

The viewer needs, generally, to see the whole (or at least more of) the bike for context. For exaple here, it could be that the bike is an apparatus fixed to the ground and the guy is jumping above it.I know it's not that, but there is ambiguity if you like on the one hand and nbot the full story on the other.

I know with action there is the temptation to go as close in as you can, and often that's what's reccommended so I understand what you were doing.

As for the frame, it doesn't add to the image or story, but tyhere's nothing wrong in trying borders out. Maybe it would work for an old bicycle and a rider in Edwardian costume for example.

12 Jun 2019 9:54AM
Thank you for your comments, Keith. You're all singing from the same hymn sheet, so I've obviously misjudged this a bit - really helpful to know how others see things, which is the point of wanting a critique.

I tried the frame to try to give the photo a more grungy look - if it's more suited to an Edwardian dressed bicyclist, I've not quite manged that GrinGrin

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