NASCAR Nationwide Series – Trying something completely different

This post is from the March 2, 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series practice session at Phoenix International Raceway, and when I say “trying something completely different” I mean slow, sloooooooow shutter speeds. For me it was about trying to get something that looked a bit different from what you see from these sessions and I’m not talking slow shutter speed panning shots where the car is in focus but the background is blurred, but super slow speed shutter speed panning shots where almost the entire image is a mass of blur and color.

02 March 2012: Denny Hamlin (18) takes hot laps during a practice session for the running of the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 Nationwide Series Race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Most of these shots are taken at shutter speeds between 1/8th of a second and 1/12 of a second, some are blurred more than others and some work better than others. I found that shooting at f22 or f32 on a bright sunny day showed every dust speck you could possibility imagine on my sensor so there was a fair bit of Photoshop dust clean up that had to be done.

To see more blurry images remember to click the more link below:

I was using my Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 3X to “super chimp” my images and see if enough was in focus and if I liked the image enough to keep it. There were hundreds of images that I deleted on the spot and a very small percentage of images that I liked enough to keep.

The numbers and graphics on some of the cars would allow my camera to lock on focus better than others and some cars or drivers are just more interesting than others so I ended up with a few shots I liked of a couple of cars and zero shot of many other cars.

I was trying to make sure I got shots of the drivers I liked and thought might have a chance to do well in the race because it doesn’t matter how cool the shot is if the guy or girl in the photo places dead-last in the race, more than likely the image will never see the light of day (or be published).

Some guys didn’t take many practice laps like Kyle “Rowdy” Busch so I had to work harder to make sure I got at least one shot I liked.

After a while my brain had a hard time determining if the shot was a nice abstract motion-blur shot or just a blurry out of focus shot and I was starting to just delete everything so I figured I better quite while I was ahead.

I was using my Canon 70mm – 200mm f2.8L IS lens with the IS on set to mode 2 for almost all the shots. I’m not sure if using mode 2 IS was helping me or not and I tried a few shots with it turned off and didn’t see much of a difference so I turned it back on and to be honest the IS function doesn’t report, that is if the IS is on or off and what mode is used doesn’t show up in the EXIF data so at this point I have no idea which images are with IS and which images are without.

The neon red numbers on Danica’s car was giving me fits and I tried all kinds of processing like adding a strong vignette or turning the saturation down, but nothing seemed to work.

It is at this point that Danica gives you that “look” and yells “You thing this is easy, you should try it.”


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