Monster Energy AMA Supercross Round 2 – JAN 15 Chase Field, Phoenix AZ

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.)

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Another one of the “pool of sunlight” shots.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Here is a nice ambient light panning shot of Trey Canard ripping through a turn.
2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

I want some more of those brightly colored flash shots from the corners.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

How about a nice shot of Ivan Tedesco grabbing a tear-off while he is 20 feet in the air.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Get some shots of Ryan Villopoto.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

I swear there is a good starting line shot here somewhere, I just gotta work harder to bring it to life.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Maybe work the flash in the corners shots some more and come back to the starting line stuff.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Maybe something before the gate drops . . .

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Or right as the gate drops . . .

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

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 . . .

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross from Phoenix Arizona

Maybe if I cheat and use a Photoshop filter to create that great double truck shot?

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5 thoughts on “Monster Energy AMA Supercross Round 2 – JAN 15 Chase Field, Phoenix AZ

  1. Hi, really good stuff! that’s awesome you got to shoot a supercross race. that shot of #994 using ambient light…what iso, ss, fstop were you using? it’s not noisy at all? which body/lens were you using?

    keep em coming,
    scott

    • Thanks Scott,

      I’m shooting with a Canon 7D, both shots at f2.8, the Trey Canard image is shot at 1/100 shutter speed using my 70mm – 200mm f2.8L IS set at 70mm with my ISO at 200 and the 995 KTM rider shot with a 300mm f2.8L IS using 1/800 shutter speed and my ISO set at 1600.

      It is easy to reduce the appearance of high-ISO noise by reducing the image size for web usage. The images look clean here but when printed as a two page spread a 1600 ISO image can show the noise.

  2. Hello,
    I am an up and coming amateur photographer studying commercial photography at my city college. I was wondering how you got into the business of shooting supercross events? Do you have any tips to get my foot in the door? Anything would be extremely helpful 🙂
    Thank You, Molly Fowler

    • Molly, you want the good news or the bad news?

      The good news is you are studying photography, the bad news is getting a photo pass for a Supercross event is difficult.

      The key is you need a reason to be there shooting, and by that I mean news coverage, shooting for a magazine or some client that will request a credential for you. Most of the time a photo editor or assignment editor will make the photo pass requests on your behalf.

      Some events are much easier to get into than others, Supercross is one of the difficult events to get a pass for.

      Sorry, I know that is not what you want to hear, but unfortunately the truth.

      Best of luck to you.

  3. Well I’m optimistic and willing to climb the highest mountain to reach my goal.
    I just recently got a Canon Rebel. I suppose that’s not too bad to start off with it.?
    As far as the difficulty getting into events, since I live in Las Vegas there is several magazines that cover
    events such as Supercross and I planned to intern there so maybe next time that comes back into town I can see
    the requirements to partake in the event.
    Thanks, Molly

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