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The Racer Trio

By heyitshenry
Hello there,
I am just wondering if the composition is correct or good? anything else that may help?
Henry Grin

Tags: Transport Racing Motorsport Motorcycle Action shot Taupo

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mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.1k 2475 United Kingdom
11 Jun 2019 9:08AM
Hi Henry, welcome to the Critique Gallery, I'm glad you have found your way here. I was going to comment (belatedly) on your previous upload, but noticed that you had added this to your page.

I hope you are enjoying the site and finding it useful. By ticking for critique you waive the chance for votes and awards but you do invite more in-depth commenting.

You also enable members to download the image and modify it, and I have added a very quick effort. To view modifications, click on the blue Modifications button below your upload, then on the numbers as they appear.

A few thoughts, including your question about composition.

First of all, motor sport was where I started serious photography around forty years ago, though not bikes. But it's an environment that I know well. It's fast and furious, but also there's a strong element of predictability in that you know the line that the competitors will take, you know where the action is likely to happen. Understanding and observation are the key to sports photography . Finding a dynamic curve in the track is a great boon, and you found one with a good clear view!

Second point, the time of day was against you. Taken around midday - sun beating down on shiny paintwork, dark visors looking downward, everything cast into dark shadow. The plus exposure compensation was a good thought but in practice you were on your widest aperture so it may not have had any effect.

I wonder how you focused? My inclination here would be to lock the focus on a point just beyond that arc of grass and then concentrate on timing.

Now your question about composition. This is cropped down, it would be interesting to see the original. I like the line-up, and in principle I like the way you have allowed space for them to move into, but I think a fair amount of the space on the left is surplus to requirements because the riders are actually moving downward in the frame, towards us rather than leftward.

I also like the inclusion of the tyres at the bottom, although the softness right in front of our eyes is a bit distracting and something that I would normally avoid. Here the tyres give a sense of place, they tell us where we the spectators are.

The modification that I have uploaded is a tighter crop, for me it focuses more on the action while allowing space. I lightened a bit overall, then isolated the riders and lightened them further (I lifted shadows a bit, then used the dodge tool gently on highlights, which lifts some detail). With the black paintwork and visors, under that sun, there's a limit to what can be retrieved).

I used the burn tool gently on the tyres to try to give them a bit more solidity, then a bit of local sharpening on the riders.

These are just suggestions. The Critique Gallery is really about ideas, suggestions, seeing your work through other people's eyes. It's all subjective!

dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1892 England
11 Jun 2019 4:05PM
Moira has more experience of action photography than I, but the two key ideas she puts forward - prefocus and shoot when the subject gets to the plane of focus (rather than relying on AF), and crop close are excellent advice.

On the technical side, I note that you're using a D70, a 6mp camera from 14 years ago. Though it remains a sound camera, you need to be aware that you can't crop as much as with a more modern caemra, and that high-ISO performance is far less good than current models. You should therefore treat some advice about settings with care, in case it takes you outside the envelope of good performance. These days, most cameras will operate at 6400 ISO as though it's 100: I have the Minolta equivalent model, a Dynax 7D, and I know how much things have changed!

So 400 may well be the upper limit for good quality, and there may be a limit to the resolution you can get. Certainly, the age of the camera means that the suggestion of switching to manual and prefocussing is little short of necessary.

Having said all of that - you chose the right moment to shoot, and the angle's good. It shows the bikes leaning and stacked up. Shooting a moment later, when they are even more head-on to the caemra, and stacked closer would be even better: you need to train yourself to react to the subject, and pick the right moment. Again, a really modern camera could offer you 20 frames a second - you have 3. Therefore, 'pray and spray' is unlikely to work, and you should aim to get one frame per pass, timing it better and better as you practice.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.1k 2475 United Kingdom
11 Jun 2019 5:47PM
I forgot to mention the camera, I used a D70 occasionally years ago and yes, it's dodgy above 400 ISO. Improved low light performance is the big development for me over the last decade or so.
11 Jun 2019 8:21PM
Thank you two for the good critiquing, This is going to really help when i go to track days soon, thank you againGrin
dark_lord Plus
17 2.9k 793 England
11 Jun 2019 9:03PM
There's a lot of good suggestions above.
I did a lot of motorsport photography years agousing film so anticipation and timing were definitely skills to master and still today are relevant for getting 'the shot'. A fraction later and the bikes would be closer here.

You weren't at the longest focal lenght of your lens which has resulted in heavier cropping. While it's handy to be abl to crop, as it's easier to follow the subject in the frame if there's room around it, generally you want as much focal length that you can get.

There is some softness and I think that's focus error ere albeit small. Whatever camera you use, that will always show up less than accurate focusing. I wouldn't worry about using a 6 MP camera here in terms of image size for posting. In many ways even a 20 MP camera can be seen as overkill for webimages.

Technique, as described above, and getting good at it, is worth much more in the long term.

There isn't any 'correct' composition, as people see things in different ways, there are degrees of 'less effective' and 'too small' to 'bolder', more engaging to the viewer' and so on, some work and some don't. Generally with sport and action you want to be in the latter camp.
Your panoramic treatment for example does focus attention on the in line action.

paulbroad Plus
14 131 1293 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2019 4:19PM
Right, back to basics. don't use spot metering with auto settings as it is very likely to get the result wrong, although I see you added correction here so you may be aware of the limitations.

This needs to be sharper on the bikes and they need to fill the frame for impact. You are using old technology which is going to restrict you. I would be using continuous auto tracking focus and a zone setting and panning with about 1/1000 sec if possible although that tends to freeze the wheels - you could practice panning down to 1/250 and see what happens.

The composition would be Ok for three bikes if you were in much tighter. the tyres have got to go.


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