Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My need for speed and how I captured it….photographically

Using your camera in sports/action mode.

Knowing we both love all things high speed, my 37 year old son invited me to a day at the El Mirage land speed races. I was visiting him while on vacation and we agreed it would be a fun mother-son outing. El Mirage, located in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, is a dry lake bed perfect for land racing.

The photographic challenge of the day would be to capture the people wandering around, and the racing motorcycles and cars, without having blurred photos. I set my camera to the automatic mode for sports/action. This mode provides a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and capture moving objects.  This is the mode to use to capture your kid’s soccer games, a race car or your dog romping at the beach.

Understand that in dim lighting the camera may not be able to select a fast shutter speed and deliver an exposure without blur.  You may also experience blur in very bright light.  

A blurred shot is not always bad.  It can add an element of excitement or interest to your photo. I always take lots of shots and chose the ones I like best.

I like the above photo but also like the blur in the photo below.  The above photo shows the detail of the rider and his bike.  The photo below shows speed and action with the sand blowing from the bike's tire and the blurred landscape and racer.  

Check your camera’s manual and read how to set the sports/action mode for your camera brand.  Most cameras have this mode.

Now back to the races.  For 50 years the lake bed has been used by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) for timed speed runs.  Many of the most respected names in both motorcycle and drag racing are represented.  Unsanctioned racing at El Mirage began in the early 1900s.

The speed runs are based on class of vehicle. Each car or motorcycle at El Mirage runs a straight 1.3 mile course race against the clock and record book.  About 70 different classes of cars and motorcycles, separated by their engine size, fuel type and modifications, are represented.

Cars traveling over 140 mph are required to use a parachute to assist them in stopping. Seeing cars with parachutes billowing out the back was quite a sight!  Speeds can run in excess of 300 mph.  Watching them race gave me my need for speed fix!

It was really exciting to wander around with the other spectators checking out the various competitors and their vehicles.

Those in the know got into some lively conversations on who would win the timed events.  I overheard one spectator say ”This is one of the last great sports where you can build something fast and furious in your garage and then go race it.”  

My lack of knowledge of who’s who in dry land racing didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the cars and bikes at the race.  It was truly a fun mother-son day!

If you happen to be in the area, the next races will be held May 14-15, 2011.


Smile Soup said...

this post reminds me of the movie 'the World's Fastest Indian' - one of my fave films!

Great pics!

Mari S. Wilbur said...

I love that film too. Anthony Hopkins is always great! And how can you not love an Indian Motorcycle?

JIM said...

some really good images..looks like a fun day, do you have a program where you select speed and camera selects aperture?


Kriti said...

Amazing descriptions here Mari - loved it!!! Look forward to more from you.

Mari S. Wilbur said...

Kriti, Thank you for the comment. It means a lot coming from you - you have such a wonderful blog!

Aaron said...

I enjoyed the post a lot. Plus some great images.
I did a post last year about using the P mode too. you might like it, I called it Cole Trickle is the Best Photography Teacher.

Hope you are having a great weekend.
Oh I am liking the look of the blog. :)

FherYmas said...

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Mari S. Wilbur said...

Fhers - I am very honored!!!