Back Modifications (3)
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160mph and airborne

By SimonD3
One of numerous points on the famous Isle of Man TT circuit where riders and their machines get airborne whilst travelling at eye watering speeds. This shot was taken during the Junior Manx Grand Prix 2015 which is part of the annual Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling.

Tags: Motorsport Isle of man Road racing Motorcycle racing Sports and action motorcycle racing Isle of Man

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mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2564 United Kingdom
5 Jul 2017 5:35PM
Hi Simon, welcome to the Critique Gallery. You've been on the site for a while, but I see that this is just your second upload, and your first to the CG.

You are highly accomplished and experienced (great website!), you know how to do this. I wonder if you want advice here, or suggestions? It's a pity that sport photography generally is not fully appreciated on this site because it's something that I love. (My first 'serious' photography was off-road motor sport in the 1980s)

A couple of thoughts - I carefully resisted the urge to crop tighter, this is as much about context as bike. Extraordinary things happening on ordinary roads.

I did want to tweak light though, and I have uploaded a modification with a few minor changes. I lightened shadows, darkened highlights, reduced midtone contrast - all by just a few percent. And I used the burn tool, set to midtones, very low exposure, over the reflections on bike and helmet. That's all. For me it reveals a little more detail, and that in turn gives greater character. You may not see it that way.

Great timing for the jump. And good that there is a shadow on the road, showing the height. I would opt for a faster shutter speed, but this is sharp!
cuffit Plus
16 360 8 England
5 Jul 2017 6:41PM
Simon, what a great shot. Like Moira, having seen your photo on your webpage (with media bib and long lens) I am somewhat nervous of making a comment, particularly as this the first time I have uploaded an alternate photo (Modification 2) - grandmothers and eggs and all that!

To be in the position to take the shot in the first place and to get the wheels off the ground and sharp as well is no mean feat at the speed these riders travel at - I don't know how on earth they do it. I think there are two ways of looking at the photo. Firstly, it is the Isle of Man after all and getting good backgrounds is not always easy (at any event) so the background is what it is and marks out where the shot was taken. Secondly, the bike is the main subject and the background should be secondary. I thought there was a bit too much space on the right-hand side (accepting it shows how far the bike travelled off the ground) and a tad off the left-hand side removes the grey pole which doesn't add anything. I took down the highlights a bit which I think makes the bike stand out a bit more.

I agree that a shutter speed would have given a bit more sharpness to the photo - if the bike was on slicks then the higher shutter speed would not make the bike look static - but I guess you know all that having a bib to shoot races.

I hope my upload gives you some food for thought - getting votes on this site for motorsports (as Moira highlights) is very difficult. Chris
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 835 England
5 Jul 2017 8:37PM
I used to shoot some motorsport so I can appreciate how difficult this sort of shot is and it too disappoints me that it's a very underepresented genre on here - that's sports photography in general.

This is quite acceptably sharp but looking very closely I'd have preferred to be at 1/800 here - ISO and aperture would allow it. Nevertheless I'd be pleased to have taken this and more than likely voted on it in the main Gallery.

Take a look at this guy's portfolio if you haven't already come across him.
banehawi Plus
18 2.9k 4334 Canada
5 Jul 2017 9:02PM
Well done.

Mod has some space cropped on the right, sharpening.
SimonD3 10 United Kingdom
6 Jul 2017 12:54PM
Hi Guys,

Thank you very much indeed for your constructive feedback - I very much appreciate it.

Moira, thank you for the welcome and for your very kind comments; I am not sure that I deserve the latter - I have a pretty dim view of my abilities as a 'tog. I am pleased to hear that the web site worked - as you looked did you have any thoughts as to how it could be improved? If I am honest, I have really lost my way over the last couple of years but this activity is part of me channeling my energy back into improving and rediscovering my photography. You are quite correct...I joined ephotozine ages ago but have done nothing with it...DOH! So, as part of an improvement programme I felt it important to engage with other photographers and seek their views. Hence the critique request...which I understand may have seemed a bit unusual in the first instance. I totally get the modifications that you made, all of which were subtle, effective and totally undisputed. I went down the route of leaving the image darker to reflect the fact that the rider and machine are predominantly black; of course the counter to that is your mods have made the rider/bike stand out more. I agree with your comments about the crop. My instincts are often to crop tightly on shots like these and some of the other images from this 'shoot' are very tight. However, the event promoters want the context of the action to be very obvious hence the wider framing of the rider/bike.

Chris, no worries at all my friend...I asked for feedback for the right reasons and am grateful to have received it. I am delighted that you were happy to take the plunge and use me as your first modification upload! I welcome your views openly and thank you for your response. Hopefully I cover some of your observations in this post. I do understand/accept your view on cropping and would normally crop closer behind the bike and allow space ahead so that it is 'moving into the frame' but the requirement is for the context to be evident.

"dark-lord"...thank you for your comments. I agree...normally the minimum I would have set would have been 1/800s.

"banehawi"...thank you. Yup...I get it.

There were quite rightly a couple of comments from all of you about shutter speed and sharpness. I agree entirely. Normally I would approach something like this looking to get about 1/800s and ideally F5 or more. However, there was heavy cloud overhead and that part of the course is lined with trees which overhang the circuit - in photographic terms it was dark and the bikes are on you in no time!!! I did consider boosting the ISO beyond 400 in a bid to mitigate the challenge lighting conditions. The D3 is quite good in terms of 'noise' up to about 1600ISO, (but for reasons best known to myself at the time) I worried that I would end up with a final image that was too grainy! In general terms, my default is to shoot Aperture Priority and to set the ISO to be equal to/greater than the focal length of the lens. I did consider using Manual and auto-ISO which works well for rugby. In the end, I went with the set up detailed in the EXIF above and tried my best!

As a 'newby' to ephotozine, I was interested to note that three of you offered the view that sport is underrepresented on this site. is what it is. For me as a 'tog, I would argue that sports photography has helped with everything else that I do...timing; dealing with challenging weather and lighting conditions; improvising in changing circumstances, etc. In fact, I would go so far as to say that sport is the foundation of everything else that I seek to achieve with a camera. For example, I see many similarities between sports photography and street photography and weddings and environmental portraiture etc. Perhaps I'm in the minority?!

I am currently LRPS and my next goal is to submit for ARPS. I do not underestimate the challenge and accept that I have much to learn...but that's part of the fun isn't it? First decision...Sport Panel or Travel Panel...time for a cup of tea methinks!

Thanks again for your responses. This has been a positive experience and reflects well on the ephotozine community.

All the best,

Simon Grin

dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
6 Jul 2017 2:25PM
Coming late (I'm on holiday abroad) and to a picture from a genre I don't practice, there's little to say. Cropping appeals, but the more you crop, the more you lose the sense of flying right over the rise, and being airbourne for seconds, not milliseconds...

I look forward to seeing more of you work, both here and in the main gallery.

I am fascinated by your approach to aperture/ISO/shutter settings - that makes a lot of sense to me, but have never seen it written do before!
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2564 United Kingdom
6 Jul 2017 4:09PM
Thanks for your feedback, Simon, the Critique Gallery (and I guess the site as a whole) works best when there is a real conversation.

I'll pick up on a couple of points. Like John I am fascinated by your ISO methodology - it makes sense, like the reciprocal of focal length rule-of-thumb for slowest shutter speed. A lot of us have our own routines, and partly it's about what you are used to, comfortable with, what you can adjust intuitively in a fraction of a second... I will always use shutter speed priority when there are human subjects but I cannot direct them, because I know that if I get involved in a subject I may not notice immediately when the light drops. The difference that a drop to 1/200 second would have made here is much greater than a one stop change in aperture would make.

Secondly I agree wholeheartedly about similarities between sport, street, weddings, environmental portraiture etc. It's about situations where one has to work by one's wits, respond. It often amuses me that a number of specialist wildlifers don't 'get' street photography, when I see it as basically a branch of wildlife, but concentrating on our own species.

I hope you'll come along to the site a bit more often now, it's a good place to bounce ideas around.
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 835 England
6 Jul 2017 8:32PM
Yes thank you for your feedback.
It helps us to know if we've pitched our critique at the right level, and it's nice to know that there is a person out there Smile

I agree, when you boil it down there are a lot of similarities between those photographic topics, and others besides for example documentary and news.
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
11 Jul 2017 11:37AM
That should have been 'written down' - Bluetooth keyboard. (Or, maybe, too much free wine?)

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