This past weekend, my buddy Michael and I hit the track in Sonoma, North California to cover for a drifting event, Winter Jam 2011. We were there for the entire event from 8am to 5pm. It was a very long and fun day for the 2 of us. Since Mike has already written up a very nice post about it, I won’t go much into details, as you can read more HERE. I ran into a few issues that I thought they’re worth mentioning.
- Drink coffee. Lots of it. My coffee pot broke that morning, so I had to opt for AM/PM coffee. I didn’t feel complete.
- Don’t forget to pack some snack if you’re going to an all-day event. We didn’t pack a single thing. We were both hungry and thirsty. Luckily, there was a truck that sold cookies, muffins and soft drinks. $2.50 would get you a muffin and an Arizona tea. Good enough to keep you from starving; I’ve had better meal.
- Always bring a tripod or at least a monopod, even though it’s going to be a sunny day; you never if you might need one… as I did. There were a few panning shots that would’ve turned out a lot better had I brought my tripod.
- For panning shots, in general, you want to stay below 1/160th secs for shutter speed. If you’ve done panning shots before, you might be able to get away with very good shots at 1/125s, 1/80s, or maybe even 1/60s. I believe Mike shoots at 1/60s.
- When panning, you want to turn OFF your VR (or OS for Sigma, or IS for Canon). With my Nikon 70-200mm VRII, for panning, the manual recommends that you turn on VR using “Normal” mode, which means the lens will counter your shake on the vertical axis and not the horizontal axis (“Active” mode means the camera will counter your shake in both the x-axis and y-axis, obviously). I found this to be not so useful. My shots came out nice whenever I turned off the VR completely. This leads me to the next issue…
- Always [try to] check your camera and lens settings before shooting. When I was switching between modes to shoot moving cars versus other things, I jumped between “A” and “S” modes, turning on and off VR. If you’re panning to shoot a car at 1/2000s, you’ll end up freezing it; there will be no motion-blur effect. If your VR is on, the shot also goes down the drain. On the other hand, you want to shoot at fastest shutter speed possible and with VR on to make sure there’s no shake nor blur. I ended up throwing away a lot of images due to this error. Things were moving too fast!
- This one is obvious: hold your breath whenever a car drives by at ~60mph and is about to drift. When I was first standing in the pit, I was about less 3 feet away from the track (yes, that was close). A car drove by, I took the photos. Next thing you know, I’m covered in dirt from the ground and smoke from the burned tires. I felt great. Very great.
- Invest in an LCD loupe, or a hat. You’re going to be under the bright sun, your LCD won’t be reliable for reviewing the photos.
- Dress comfy. Jeans and t-shirt should do. A dress shirt is a bit much.
- Not an issue, but I noticed that about half the drivers there had a GoPro attached to their car. Man those things are popping up everywhere.
After we were done with the shoot, Mike and I hit up a great Japanese restaurant called Akebono for some dinner. One of the best restaurants I’ve been to; they have great customer service and excellent food. We each ordered a [big] sushi roll and an entree. We were stuffed.
Since this is a photography blog, I’ll post some photos below. Hope you peeps enjoy.