Yesterday Clair and Mary picked me up (no mean feat) and we went the few miles to the Sebring International Raceway for a look around.
This track is where the "Annual 12 Hrs of Sebring" race is held and I'll be here for it this year as it takes place from 12th -15th of March. Yes I know that's more than 12 hrs but don't be silly.
On Mon,Tues, Wed there will be testing for the American LeMans Series and there will be an admission charge to get into the race track so, knowing how tight I am, Clair and Mary took me when admission was free and we might still see some cars going around.
And we did.
Not many, but enough for me to get more experience with some of the manual settings on my camera.
Once again using the premise that you might only get one shot so make sure you get it, I initially set the camera to it's 'speed' setting and when the first car came along, I snapped this photo of it.
Of course there is no impression of speed here as the automatic shutter speed was 1/2000th of a second but like I said, I wanted to come away with at least one decent photo of a car.
A car. This was the only car on the track and thankfully it went around a couple of times before pulling into a McDonalds' drive thru and the driver had some lunch.
Well I donno where it went actually but I know there was so little action on this part of the track that I was glad I'd got any photos at all.
I took one more with the same settings when it came around again and then decided to go to manual and lower the speed setting to get a pan shot which would blur the background and yet, hopefully give a sharp image of the car.
And so I waited, and waited, and waited. But the car never came around again.
Damn that McDonalds' drive thru.
We drove to another part of the track and suddenly heard revving engine noises again and saw another car approaching our viewing spot. This time I was ready for my pan shots.
I didn't know what speed to use and so hoped I'd get several chances to go through the range.
My first attempt was to use 1/80th sec but that was just too slow for me to get a well focused shot of the car. Also my panning technique with the zoom wasn't very good as I was finding the image of the car was either too close or too far away when it was coming past me and I really needed to settle on the best distance and stick with it.
Then I could've concentrated on the panning technique.
The shot above was taken at 1/125th sec and was the best I got before the car stopped coming around but as it was taken at the very start of the panning movement. The background isn't blurred enough to give the impression of speed that I wanted. The next photo in the sequence WAS taken as it passed me but sadly the car was so out of focus that I erased the image immediately.
There was a small airport next to the race track and many light aircraft were coming and going while we were there.
I'm sure it gets very busy on race days as I've seen the airports near F1 race tracks and for a short period of time, they can almost rival Heathrow or JFK for takeoffs and landings.
Only 2 air craft came close to our location; one was a microlight but it was still too far away to see clearly and then there was this helicopter.
Seeing as there were no cars to photograph, I had to snap something !!
We moved position again - this time to a part of the track used by smaller cars whose drivers were at the start of their careers, if indeed a career was in their futures.
A standard saloon was being used as a pace car and the pace was slow, very slow. There were about 5 or 6 cars being led around this way and I quickly realised that although their slow speed made them easier to photograph, that same slowness meant that panning would STILL not give any impression of speed.
As proven by these last two photos.
The cars look as if they're parked, for goodness sake !
But still, the trip to the track had been great on a number of levels. For a start, I got to see it at last. For another, I did get to practice with various camera settings. I saw a few different cars and it did give me a taste for going back to see an actual race. Maybe THE race in March.
So thank you, Clair & Mary. And maybe the trip was good for you too. Maybe you found the bike you've been looking for ?