STE P BY STE P / Capture smokin’ action
1 Position the camera
We took our Nikon D800 off-track to one side. Aiming back towards the track, the plan was to capture Tom as he zoomed down, leaving enough space behind him to frame the smoke to the back of the image. We kept our bags well clear of the track, to avoid any accidents.
2 Adjust as needed
We used a 50mm f/1.4 lens to get us a little closer to the action than a wide-angle lens, but not too close. On an initial test run – without smoke – it was clear that we’d have to take another few steps back to ensure we didn’t cut off any part of Tom or his bike.
3 Set burst mode
In order to capture as many images as possible in one pass, put your Nikon into Continuous High Speed burst mode. This will keep on taking exposures for as long as the shutter button is depressed, while you track the movement of the bike as it hurtles through the frame.
4 Pre-focus the lens
We got Tom to stand on the spot along the path where we would be taking the shot so that we could prefocus on him. With the lens in autofocus (AF) mode we focused on Tom, then switched to manual focus (MF), taking care not to nudge the focus ring.
5 Position the lights
With Tom still in position we set up our Speedlights either side of the focus point on the track with wireless triggers attached, we then set the power to 1/4 to test how the light fell. We wanted the light to fall either side of the bike for dramatic highlights.
6 Set the exposure
In Manual mode we set an aperture of f/3.2 to blur the background; that meant only a small area in front of or behind the focus point would be sharp. We then set our shutter speed to 1/160 sec to sync with the lights, and adjusted the ISO (to 800) to get a correct exposure.