Exposure Tips for a Few Race Day Favorites

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Under racing conditions, obtaining proper exposure can sometimes be tricky with white then black then red cars blasting past you. And the glare off shiny windshields and car bodies only complicates matters more. For daytime practice and sunny race day conditions I typically start by setting my camera at ISO 200 and continuously make adjustments to both the ISO and exposure using the camera’s Exposure Compensation controls.

The dinged Ferrari (above) was captured with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel and a borrowed (read expensive) EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens with an exposure of 1/250 sec at f/16 and ISO 200. For exposure tips for car show photography, please check out my post “Better Exposures When Shooting Cars,” when you have time.

Tip: Most of the images I shot at  ALMS series races at Mazda Speedway at Laguna Seca were made at one-half to one full stop less exposure than indicated by reviewing images (“chimping”) as I shot them and making corrections on-the-fly. This was especially important during actual race day, on occasions when the lighting conditions were not ideal. If it doesn’t wreck, the car that just passed you will be back in a minute or so so you’ll get another chance to photograph it.

At Left: Take advantage of any downtime during race practice or yellow flag conditions to make images of the safety workers in action.

At Laguna Seca’s famous Corkscrew they’re cleaning sand that was tossed onto the track when a car went off course during practice, I liked the way they aesthetically arranged themselves around the curve and made a few shots, of which I liked this one best. Image made with Canon Digital Rebel, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens at f/16 with 1/500th of a second and ISO 200.


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