December 5th – Fast Forward

Turn 2 - Tander

Not sure if you noticed, but I’ve had a bit of a spell from the blog. I still own a camera and have an internet connection, but utilising each has been more of a challenge recently. More on that at a later date….

To the photo at-hand ….. I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of motor racing, but I’ve never been to an event in the flesh. Today it was destination Sydney Olympic Park for the V8 SuperCars.

If I were to find a calling in my photographic life, it would be around sport. I couldn’t help but to snatch the opportunity to bring a camera to this event.

A special note for any amateur wannabe-photographers like myself – V8 Supercars have no restrictions on what gear you can bring through the gates. Pack well though, because you’ll likely walk a fair few kilometres.

Firstly the hardware. I’m very fortunate to have a generous and trusting friend who provided me with a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS lens. It’s simply one of the best lenses on the market, certainly in its class.

Add to that, this is the first time I’ve used a Canon 1.4x EF Extender. This unit is exactly what it suggests – it magnifies the camera/lens capabilities by 1.4x.

So I have optics attached to my 550D like I’ve never had before. The maths works out like this;

  • I am using a lens with a maximum focal length of 200mm.
  • My camera has an APS-C, or ‘crop’ sensor. Essentially this means you magnify my lens capability by 1.6x. This means the initial 200mm x 1.6 for an actual focal length of 320mm.
  • Then you add the EF Extender – another 1.4x.
  • 320mm x 1.4 gives me my ‘new’ focal length with this combination – 448mm.

With all that said and done, there was one more very different challenge – the track is encased in thick safety-wire all the way around. This manifests itself in two ways – there’s no point using automatic focus, it will be distracted by the wire. Secondly, any photo I take will contain vertical and horizontal lines throughout.

It basically culminates in a fair bit of guesswork with distances and focussing, so there’s a bit of hit’n’miss when you dump your SD card onto your computer in the evening.

The trick was to focus through the wire fence, effectively on the advertising on the far wall. This reduces the immediate impact of any lines to a vertical or horizontal blur.

With a little tweaking in Lightroom – specifically I found by increasing contrasts and reducing highlights, you could all-but remove those lines from the final image.

As you can see the outcomes can be pretty spectacular. I managed to get a handful of great shots, but in truth I was in awe of both the cars and the stuff hanging off the front of my Canon 550D.



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