Shooting AMA Supercross has been on my “bucket list” of things I wanted to shoot for a few years now and I finally managed to break the door down and get them to let me cover the supercross here in Phoenix.
Shooting supercross is tough, fast-moving motorcycles and riders, dirt flying everywhere, and because it is held in a stadium I’m guessing challenging lighting conditions. The Phoenix Supercross is held in Chase Field, normally a baseball stadium, but the event organizers put plywood over the entire field and dirt on top of that and create a fantastic supercross racetrack. Chase Field is a tough place to shoot when the roof is closed, which is most of the baseball season because it gets hot here in the desert, but today the weather is nice and temps will be in the mid-70’s so I mistakenly think they will have the stadium roof open for the practice and qualifying sessions starting around noon. On my drive down to the stadium there is a point on the freeway where I can see downtown and the stadium so I can tell if the roof is open or closed before I even get to the stadium. I notice that the roof is closed and realize that I will have a very challenging day ahead of me shooting AMA Supercross for the first time.
Let the fun begin.
For a few minutes there was a splash of sunlight that came in through the side of the building so I spent as much time as I could “playing” with it. I think this shot is the best result from that session as Supercross Lites rider Brad Nauditt powers out of a berm.
See more Monster Energy AMA Supercross action by clicking on the more link below (hint, it’s worth a look because there is some hot stuff in there.)
I was mixing it up, shooting ambient light (very high ISO) and shooting with my 580EX II attached to my camera. For the flash stuff I would lower my ISO to around 400 or so and “drag the shutter” or use second curtain sync on the flash. I tried using shutter speeds of 1/250 and lower using the flash to stop the motion and the shutter speed to control the amount of background ambient light that comes in as well as using high-speed sync with shutter speeds above 1/250 to get a variety of shots. Here is a nice panning shot of KTM rider Tye Simmonds ripping through the sand section of the course.
I didn’t want to use too fast of a shutter speed and freeze the wheels and spokes of the riders making the shots look “static” so I was all over the map as far as what my settings were when shooting this event. Here is a panning shot with flash of James Stewart sending it over one of the jumps.
It seemed like shooting ambient light was giving me these pale-looking flat images and I was looking for more of a “splash” of color so I spent a good deal of time shooting with my flash. Here is a shot of Supercross Lites rider Joshua Hansen in one of the berms.
I wanted to get some photo-journalism type of shots from the pits, but didn’t really find, or make the time to go out there and wander around. Here is a shot of the Lucas Oil Honda team bikes in the pits.
Shooting with a flash is kind of a pain in the ass because you get red-eye that needs to be fixed in post, but at least you get bright colors and lower ISO captures. In this shot James Stewart rips through a turn.
Another one of the “pool of sunlight” shots.
I like to get right in there and see the eyes and faces, so I used a long lens and ambient light to capture this shot of Ryan Villopoto in deep concentration.
Here is a nice ambient light panning shot of Trey Canard ripping through a turn.
Dude, you just gotta get a shot of James Stewart kicking the bike all sideways in the air and stuff . . .
Yea, I got that shot.
I want some more of those brightly colored flash shots from the corners.
How about a nice shot of Ivan Tedesco grabbing a tear-off while he is 20 feet in the air.
Get some shots of Ryan Villopoto.
I was trying to get some start-of-the-race shots but the best place to get those shots might have been from the stands with a 600 or 800 mm lens.
I’m still liking the bright color flash shots from the corners, in some cases you can get faces and eyes which can really make a shot “pop” like this one of Tyla Rattray.
I swear there is a good starting line shot here somewhere, I just gotta work harder to bring it to life.
Maybe work the flash in the corners shots some more and come back to the starting line stuff.
Maybe something before the gate drops . . .
Or right as the gate drops . . .
See how dark the face and eyes are when shooting ambient light? Still a nice shot, but better with the face and eyes.
Back to the starting line . . .
Maybe if I cheat and use a Photoshop filter to create that great double truck shot?