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Hi speed action shots using a Nikon D90. Any advice?

Christopher Disney , Feb 21, 2009; 02:51 a.m.

I have been shooting photos for years although I have no formal training. I pretty much got out there and tried tinkering if you will and I found things that worked for me. I have some basic knowledge of settings. I started with a Sony F828 8mp SLR that had a fixed Carl Ziess lens. I believe it was a 28-200mm. I then went to the Nikon D80 with a slightly older Nikon lens. Also a 28-200mm. I just upgraded equipment as I want to get myself on a pro level as time progresses. I have the Nikon D90 with the 18-105 VR kit lens. I also purchased the 70-200mm 2.8 VR and I am happy to say I just won a 300mm 2.8 lens on Ebay. I found a killer deal a few months ago on patriot 16gb SDHC class 6 memory cards at Fry's for $29.99 and purchased 3 of them. I also have a Nikon 50mm 1.4. I have had issues in the passed with shooting action shots. Some of the samples below look great because they were shot at lower speeds. Where the subject is only going 5mph to 20mph. I belong to a motorcycle club and I have been shooting photos of stunt shows. Needless to say these bikes come flying by at speeds ranging from 30mph to 120mph. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting some solid clean images at those speeds? Here are a few samples of shots I have done with my D80 and 28-200mm lens. I have not had the chance to shoot anything with my new equipment yet. It's been raining off and on where I live. I'm more so looking for advice for settings and lenses to use for this type of photography. Thanks


(Mod. note: seven or eight consecutive photos deleted. Provide links to photos, no one-man shows, please.)


Andy L , Feb 21, 2009; 12:48 p.m.

Tell us about what ISO, F-Stop and shutter speeds you're using. You want to make the shutter faster, which you can do by increasing the ISO and decreasing the F-stop (widening the aperture). The D90's high ISO performance should give you good shots at 1600 or even 3200. Try shutter priority mode at 1/1000 and faster. See if you can get focus tracking in continuous mode.

J.C. Lopez-Johnston , Feb 21, 2009; 12:48 p.m.

Does anyone have any suggestions for getting some solid clean images at those speeds?
Does anyone have any suggestions for getting some solid clean images at those speeds?
I want to begin saying CONGRATULATIONS for your shoots! As a member of the club, you have a lot to exploit with your photography.
I would suggest to use low apertures / higher speeds and long focal distances... then you will freeze the movement but blurring the background at the same time!. Your photographs will be totally different if you simply leave the main subject in focus eliminating the distracting objects! All your photographs have this issue to be considered, but this is not a mayor problem to be solved. BLURR all that are not your subjects.
I hope I have helped... Try my personal advice and compare your "old ones" with the new ones...

Christopher Disney , Feb 22, 2009; 09:08 a.m.

I believe the iso was set to 400 and 800 using my D80. I have not had the chance to shoot anything with my new equipment yet as it has been rainging where I live. I will definitely try your suggestions as soon as I get a break in the rain. I will say this I don't think I'm doing half bad for having no formal training. I've always fely I have had a pretty good eye for angles and attention to detail such as shadows and lighting. I will post a few samples of other shoots I have done and maybe you can comment on those for me too. Let me know if there is something I'm missing. Thanks


These photos were shot with a 50mm 1.4 on my D80

(Mod. note: 15 consecutive photos deleted. Provide links to photos, no one-man shows, please.)

Lex Jenkins , Feb 22, 2009; 06:48 p.m.

Moderator note: No one-man shows in the discussion forums, folks. Post one or two sample photos to illustrate a problem, technique or question. Provide a link to your photo.net portfolio or external website if you have other sample photos.

Christopher Disney , Feb 22, 2009; 08:22 p.m.

Ok my samples were deleted. Sorry I'm new to this I didn't know there was a limit on photos to post in a thread. I guess people can see samples at www.savioso.com Thanks

John Williamson , Feb 23, 2009; 01:36 a.m.


What technique you use will be based on the look you want. Do you want to freeze the action or show the movement ? Do you want the background to show up well, or be all out of focus ? The VR feature of the new lenses will NOT make a shaky shot come out great. You still need to be smooth.

If your goal is just to freeze the fast action, then shoot shutter priority and crank the shutter speed up. If you want just the moving item sharp and the rest of the background streaked with motion, then the shutter needs to be in the 1/30 - 1/125 of a second range and you pan with the moving object. Any faster shutter and you may freeze the wheels that are moving and the back ground. You need to play with the speeds and practice to get this right. I like to get the wheels kind of blurred to show it was moving, not just parked. For fast moving things, I try to use a middle aperture, so I have a wider area of in focus, so as the car or bike moves, it doesn't go out of focus.

Now, here is something else to consider. Are you hoping the AF of your camera gets all these fast moving things in dead focus ? That might be optimistic. At race tracks, I set my aperture to a middle range, as the distance to the cars is large, and the middle apertures will give me quite a depth of focus, but not ALL the background will be in focus. Then, I pre-focus on a spot on the track where I want to take the picture. When I pan to that spot, I snap the shutter. The closer you are to the action and the faster they go, the harder this is, but you learn over time.

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