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MotoUSA Photo of the Week - May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011
Skyhawk04kilos excellent use of panning conveys the speed of a trackday rider blasting down the front straight.
Skyhawk04kilo's steady hand made this panning shot a winner this week.
Congratulations to Motorcycle USA Forums user Skyhawk04kilo for being chosen for Photo of the Week. Taken at a local trackday, his photo exhibits a steady hand while panning at just 1/50 of a second. It’s even more impressive as Skyhawk04kilo was using a focal length of 165mm; things can get real shaky when zoomed in that far. The motion blur from his spot on panning skills conveys the speed on the rider as he blasts down the front straight. As a pro that fails often at panning at speeds slower than 1/100 of a second, my hat is off to you Skyhawk. I’m truly impressed. This rock-steady shot is now in the running for the EVS Sports Photo of the Year and the $500 of protective gear grand prize.
This week we are going to talk about timing for your moto-photos. In almost any photograph, but especially in action photography, there is a split-second of time known as the Decisive Moment. This is when the action, lighting and other outside influences come together to make a photograph special. The real challenge comes in knowing when all the factors will come together to create this elusive timeframe. Then the next challenge is pressing the shutter button to be able to time the shot correctly. It’s fairly simple when photographing objects are people that are at rest. Rather than posing a photo, let that photo come to you. Wait for that
Christophe Pourcel salvaged as many points as he could after his DNF in moto one by chasing down Trey Canard for the win in Moto 2.
Imagining what your subject may do will help you be ready for that Decisive Moment when it happens. Here Christophe Pourcel eyeballs Trey Canard at the 2010 Unadilla National MX.
cloud to move to just the right spot, or watch for that instant when your subject smiles with their whole being not just their mouth. Know your camera so when it happens you know you can catch it. For action photos this becomes more difficult. A fraction of a second too late or too early makes all the difference when looking for that decisive moment. So how do you know when the time is right? Put yourself behind the bars. Imagine you are riding the bike and when you would whip the bike, twist your body or pull a wheelie. Even if you don’t have the same riding skills as those who you are photographing, just imagining yourself riding at that level will give you an edge to get that timing just right. I guarantee just this one little tip will help you get more keepers than other more complicated theories on the Decisive Moment.
So get out there and keep shooting! Put these tips to use, and post your results up in the MotoUSA Photo of the Week thread on the forums. I personally look at every photo, and if you have a question just PM me. I will be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.
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irksome   May 13, 2011 12:00 PM
When I shot the AMA road races back in the mid-90s, that moment was the difference between showing that someone was doing a buck-twenty in a corner or just someone riding a motorcycle. And no, your motor-drive won't help. A good thing to explain about panning is that too fast a shutter speed will freeze the bikes wheels and the background; it'll just look like someone about to tip over. I used a 600 or a 300mm, shooting at 1/250th or slower. It takes practice. The coolest spot was hiding behind the concrete wall on the inside of the last corner before they come back out onto the oval at Daytona; they were coming right at me. I could hear their knee-sliders.