'Taking images of objects moving at speeds of up to 320km/h goes beyond what textbooks teach about panning,' says pro photographer Chris Martin...
Like us, you probably enjoy watching. Glorious, beautifully shot, high-resolution photographs of the fast motorcycles we love so much, that is. But we’ll admit we don’t often think about the effort, perseverance and sheer talent that goes into getting those photographs.
For their October 2010 issue, Master Photography magazine caught up with British photographer Chris Martin, who’s been shooting motorcycles as a professional for more than a decade. He’s shot pictures at various MotoGP races around the world, as well as BSB and WSBK events. He was the official team photographer for the Rizla Suzuki British Superbikes team for three years and official photographer for other prominent motorcycle racing teams as well.
‘As with other forms of photography, moving position can make all the difference to the composition and lighting,’ says Chris. ‘Taking images of objects moving at speeds of up to 320km/h goes beyond what textbooks teach about panning. I have found myself in situations where wheels and backgrounds are still blurred even when using shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second,’ he adds.
‘Another challenge is hand holding long telephoto lenses. I use a monopod ocassionaly but it makes it difficult to duck quickly,’ says Chris. ‘Most of my images were shot in raw mode and slightly overexposed to preserve shadow detail. The exposure was pulled back in raw conversion and the resulting JPEG was given a boost in the shadows, with less chance of noise creeping in, which gives the images more dynamic range,’ he concludes.
Umm… we’ll admit that we do all our photography (whatever little there is, of it…) with a Sony Cybershot, in full-automatic ‘Program’ mode. So we don’t completely understand what Chris is talking about. But we suppose most of it means that shooting good pictures of bikes travelling at very high speeds is bloody hard work. We’ll remember that and the next time we look at a photograph of The Doctor pulling a wheelie at 200km/h, we’ll appreciate the skill and the hard work of the photographer who took that photograph.