Phoenix International Raceway – Excerpts from a Photo-Shoot

This photo shoot is one of those “let’s play with our camera and see what we get” shoots. The location is the Phoenix International Raceway the first week of November. NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) rotates through this raceway about twice a year. My wife and I and my oldest daughter and her husband thought it would be fun to go as none of us have been to any NASCAR races. This particular day was National Military Service Appreciation Day. I tell you this only because this always means some great military aircraft flyovers before the race starts.

The only reason I brought my camera was that my oldest is getting back into photography (it left her somewhere during those college years a decade ago) and has been picking my brain on different aspects of taking interesting shots. That particular week, we had been talking about shutter speed and how that can open up the door to dramatic shots of things you normally don’t get to capture. With the flyover scheduled before the race and the cars during the race going past us at 110 mph, I thought this would be a great opportunity for her to experiment.

The flyover came and I was laughing so hard at her I almost didn’t get any shots myself. Watching her head twist and bob as the jets and planes flew over as she was still trying to find them in her viewfinder was worth the day. So lesson one – fast activity does not wait for you to line it up in your viewfinder. Anticipate the direction of the subject and shoot numerous shots to capture one great one.

(I should note that I used 1/1600 shutter speed on all the attached shots)

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Notice on these shots of the flyover that the propellers are caught frozen because of the shutter speed. If you were doing a technical photo shoot for the purpose of capturing propeller driven airplanes flying, you would slow the shutter speed done to catch the blur of the propellers spinning to create more realism in the final shot.

Since we weren’t into this except for examples of shutter speed, we didn’t get too creative with our angles and just shot what was going on around us. Our seats were at the end of the straightaway, so the cars were flying past us at about 110 mph on the other side of a massive chain link fence. You literally held your camera steady, aimed it and shot a series of captures when the group of cars came down the straightaway. In person you had to eye the car as it came into your field of vision and follow it with your head very fast as it went by (ignoring everything else) just to see any detail of the car. Notice in the next two shots the people walking in front of the fence. See the guy in the red shirt and the girl coming up the steps with the black cap straight across from him and facing his direction in both shots. The time frame between the shots is negligible, but note none of the cars are the same in either shot…that’s how fast they were going.

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The final shot gives you a perspective of the cars that just pasted us and are going around the curve. Except for the fence issue, the clarity and detail is great.

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PIR 1

This wasn’t a glitzy sexy photo-shoot, but I shared it because there are elements you can capture of fast moving subjects and make them creative. Thoughts?

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20 thoughts on “Phoenix International Raceway – Excerpts from a Photo-Shoot

  1. jorobinson176

    Those are gorgeous! I love military flyovers – especially the new powerful jets – exciting stuff. I never realised how difficult taking shots of things moving around the sky would be (newbie with first camera ever), so I’m always blown away when you pro guys come out with things like this – I mostly get blurs. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      Thank you….the shutter speed is only half the battle with fly overs….they happen so fast you really have to anticipate their direction. To get the shots i shared i took about twice as many. Thanks for the kind remarks….I appreciate it!!

      Reply
    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      I didnt have my telephoto lens on, but shot in RAW format and pulled the final output to a high degree of clarity. This allowed the detail as i cropped the shot to what you saw.

      Reply

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