Tips for Shooting Vehicles in Motion

On this Canon video, Professional motorsports photographer Kevin Wing shares 5 tips and techniques for shooting vehicles in motion.

One of the most requestion topic for tips we get on a regular basis is how to shoot moving subjects such as cars, motorcycles etc. and do cool tracking and panning shots. This actually requires both precise technique but also some skill and quite a bit of trial and error with lots of penitence (luck might help a bit as well).

Wing start with focusing and DOF of moving targets – Wing usually shoot typically around f/8 to get the entire vehicle  in sharp focus. Try shoot in AI-Servo/AF-C AF mode so you will be able to track the target better and try and put the AF point on the main part of the vehicle with the most contrast. You can also pre-focus on a specific point in the road and when the vehicle goes over it – takes the picture.

A profile pan-shot is one of the most important – in this case when you have enough room – use a longer focal length lens (70-200mm or even 300mm). Start with a 1/250 second shutter speed – you can use lower speeds but it is harder (even for a pro), flow with the movement of the vehicle with your hips as you pan and remember to follow through with the camera even after you take the image.

A front action shot is also popular – again use a long lens here – in this case Wing use either 1/500 or 1/250 second and try to get side lighting and keep your subject centred and again follow through.

Location or atmospheric shot is more like a landscape image where the vehicle is just part of the scene – use wider lenses (although tele lenses can work sometimes) with a rule of 3’rds in mind and a subject which isn’t in the center.

Don’t forget to use magic hours in terms of lighting and you will be reworded with more dramatic shots.

What is nice about this video is the fact that you can see the specific camera setting in the bottom of the screen for each shot that you see – you can freeze the frame and make a note and use this as a starting point to try something similar of your own if you are a beginner and just want to get the hang of things.

You can watch many more photography tips on the LensVid technique section.