And the Winner is....

We want to thank all the readers who voted in our little contest last week.  It was back and forth and very close.  When the smoke cleared, it was Mark in the lead by a nose (or was that a telephoto lens).  His shots were 1, 2, and 4.  Although we weren’t ranking the images, the old chest (#2) was the favorite. Mark is "King of the Lines."  Thanks again, we’ll get several weeks of snide remarks to each other out of this.  To show Mark I’m not a sore loser, I promised to let him super-size his lunch.  ;-) No time to hang my head.  On Saturday, I was taking the son-in-law to the Richmond International Raceway for his birthday.  At night races, I like to photograph the pre-race and first couple of laps before putting the camera away.  I always test the patience of the screeners as I come in, dragging a camera, long lenses, and monopod, in addition to the scanner, headphones, and stadium seat.  They let me in again, and we were off to celebrate.  Here is a shot of his best side.

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Lots of the things we’ve been talking about here came into play.  The day was cloudy, and, as race time got closer, it began to rain.  Out came the Rainsleeve I talked about a couple of weeks ago.  No problems.  Except…  The rain delay meant there was going to be very little ambient light when the race began – only track lights.  That meant bumping up the ISO and opening the aperture wide.

During the pre-race, a couple of crazy people came out of the clouds, with a parachute and flags.  In the first shot, you can see the little bit of light that was left.  The second shot is only 10 seconds later as he came in for a landing.  The stadium lights gave Old Glory a nice pop.  Then UPS, one of the sponsors, drove their truck around the track.  I’ve always found this commercial funny, so I snapped the frame at the end.

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When the engines started and the field was making a pace lap, I had high hopes.  You can see the first image is sharp, but it was not to be.  In the second shot, after the green flag dropped and the cars got up to speed, you can see the background is sharp, but the cars are a mess.  They were too fast for the ISO (640) and wide open lens (f2.8).  I could have taken the ISO up further, but that leads to digital noise in the image.  Unless that is an effect I'm using, I hate noisy images.  The best solution to this problem is a camera with greater ISO sensitivity.  Nikon makes one, too....hmmmm....

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Another potential solution is panning.  In this technique, you move with the subject, at the same relative speed, creating a sharp subject and blurred background.  This takes a little practice but is fairly easy.  With the distance I was at and my camera on a monopod, this might have worked.  Alas, panning with a long telephoto in the middle of 100,000 screaming fans is not a smart option, so I put the camera back in the bag and had fun with family and friends.  Sometimes that is the best solution....

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