A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Photographing Karting Nationals

March 29 2008

by Philip Northeast

Part of the allure of photography is the world is never the same on any given day. Familiar surroundings present opportunities for expanding your photographic horizons.

Callum Zizek

Callum Zizek in trouble before the green

Karting is recognized as an ideal first rung on the ladder for aspiring professional motor racing drivers In a similar vein, karting offers learning opportunities for aspiring sports photographers as the comparatively low speeds allow photographer to get close to the action without needing to mortgage the house to buy a super telephoto lens.

so the biggest event on the Australian karting calendar is good place to capture the early steps of the next Mark Webber or Marcos Ambrose before they join the exodus from karting.

Even though the Launceston Kart Club (LKC) track is a familiar venue, this occasion produced a very different event and consequently requiring unusual photographic approaches for this venue.

Pack Your Bags

The first clue to the nature of this race meeting is the parking. Normally there is ample parking inside the venue, even at the biggest of local meetings. With competitors from all over the country making the trek to Australia’s island state their large vans and trailers took up much of the parking spaces.

Leading the pack

Leading the pack

Many spectators resorted to parking on the side of the country road outside the track. Instead of working out the car, a camera bag with all the bit and pieces for the day’s shooting got the nod. As well as lenses, these include a supply of memory cards, spare batteries. One of the spots in the bag for vertical storage of a lens makes an ideal spot for a drink bottle, so long as it has a secure top.

Take Your Position

A quick look at the program for the main race day on the Sunday reveals far less races than usual with only one race per class, limiting opportunities for photography and spectating, and making choice of shooting spot more critical.

The national title for each class hangs on the one race, with yesterday’s preliminaries setting the starting positions for the all or nothing final.

Chaos developing

Chaos developing

The importance of the titles attracted large fields for the reduced number of classes so the on track spectacle is something different from normal. Too often in local karting the small fields quickly become spread out with large gaps between the individual runners. With the country’s best drivers in action, and many classes with capacity fields, the sight of groups of karts battling for positions for the whole race was common.

Normal meetings the panning shot is the stock shot, looking to create sense of excitement and action with blurred and streaked background suggesting speed and excitement to make up for the lack of battles for position. However, at the nationals, battles for position throughout the field are common, offering more than enough action to keep the camera clicking.

Overtaking move gone wrong

Overtaking move gone wrong

Instead of choosing spot with good potential for panning, the choice for this meeting is to concentrate on covering key overtaking spots. This track has an inner loop just after the prime overtaking spot at the end of the long back straight offering a second shot opportunity as the loop turns back.

The need to change quickly between shots is a clear case for the versatility of a zoom lens rather than any image quality advantage offered by a prime lens. With the larger groups of karts, the zoom allows an easy change for a shorter focal length to include more karts than the usual single machine.

Focus Please?

The change in shooting patterns also requires a change of focus pattern from pre focus as part of a carefully considered set up for panning, to continuous autofocus to suit the variety of expected shots. Then come the not so unexpected clashes between karts resulting from the close racing.

flying karts

flying karts

originally published by suite101.com


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