The 52 Project, Week 22: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at the Motocross

Processing last week’s negative late one Friday afternoon, I found myself anxious to shoot even more of this large format stuff. Within minutes of this hankering, my LF sponsor/mentor/camera donor Spencer came up to the lab to extend an invitation my way. He was going to take his freshman digital photography class out to Delta, OH to cover an all-day motocross event. Not seeing how I could possibly do sports photography with an 8x10, I accepted the invite, seeing it as a personal challenge.

Long story short, this motocross and all the people there were very cool. Though many folks looked at me as though crabs were crawling out my eyes, I was allowed access to all of the course, getting me really close to the action. One question remains, however...

How does one capture high speed action with a view camera?

Just like they did it back in the early 20th century, of course. ^__^

Step 1: Pick a good vantage point capable of producing interesting subject matter.
Step 2: Pre-focus the image, utilizing rise, fall, swings, and tilts to maximize depth of field.
Step 3: Meter, meter, meter some more. Focus again, stop down your lens, and meter again.
Step 4: Close your lens, insert your film holder, remove darkslide, covering back of the camera to insure against light leaks.
Step 5: Wait for the action to come to you. Plunge down the shutter release a split-second before the intended composition falls into place.
Click image for more exact exposure information.
Voila! Now all you have to do is not screw up any of your processing. Though easier than it sounds, I took 5 shots that day, and here’s the best/least screwed up of them all:

Something Good: The shot definitely has adequate action, composition, and depth of field.

Something Bad: The subjects are a little dark, but this was a trade-off for overall tonality of the image (deep blacks, lots of middle greys, bright whites). This was likely a result of using a Red filter (-2.5 stops of light) and only compensating 1-1.5 stops due to shutter speed limitations (max of 1/150 sec.)

Something Learned: With a lot of patience and practice, we’re talking a 6 hour day of trial and error, you can shoot anything with a view camera. And just like any kind of woodworking, measure twice (at least), and cut once (take the shot).

Next Week: Finding comfort in repeatable subject matter, a good thing or getting lazy?