Photographing a Motocross event

Hello all!

In this post I want to share with you some of the shots I took during a motocross event in Arkel at MC de Bougie, which is a Motocross Club that was established in 1966.

A friend of mine is a huge Motocross enthusiast, and he visits a race almost every weekend during the season. So a few months ago I decided to tag along during one of his trips, together with another friend of mine.

I had never visited a race before, or taken photographs of a motocross race, so I had to look up what the best settings would be for my camera to get some nice shots in.

And its mostly all about the shutter speed and the panning of the camera during a shot.

The shutter speed is of course to capture the motocross racer during a high speed race, and freeze the perfect moment. So make sure you camera is set to shutter speed priority.

The panning of the camera gives the background of the image a blurred look, and ads some “movement” to the photograph. Click here if you want to know more about panning.

In the photograph below you can see what I mean in action. The motocross racer is sharp, compared to the background, which is blurred. Even the wheels of the dirt bike are blurred because of the speed of the wheels spinning and the shutter speed I used. My settings for this shot were 1/200 sec, ISO 100, F 7.1, at 65 mm focal length.

Dirt Bike photography for beginners

Before you head out to an event with your camera, make sure you wear comfortable shoes, that you don’t mind getting dirty, because the races are usually on a dirt track, surrounded by sandy paths.

Also try to get there way ahead of the start, so you can walk around the track and look for good positions to shoot your images.

The best positions to get the coolest images are usually the start, at corners and next to a jumping mound on the track, as you can see in the above image where I was standing next to a mound.

Try to shoot from multiple locations during a race, so not all your shots are the same angled shots form someone jumping a mound (although those are really awesome of course).

Because most dirt tracks are pretty large, and you can’t venture on large parts of the tracks for obvious reasons, its good to have a good tele lens with you for maximum effect. You can get great close ups of riders at larger distances, which is impossible with a short lens.

The next shot was actually one of the first shots I took, and I was still trying to figure out my best shutter speed, so it was still a bit too fast imho, and I didn’t get a nice blurry background. My settings for this shot were 1/400 sec, ISO 320, F 7.1, at 270 mm focal length.

Photographing dirt bikes races for beginners

Faster shutter speeds can help you create great action shots though, where you see dirt flying all over the place frozen in time, as you can see in the next photograph. My settings for this shot were 1/2500 sec, ISO 3200, F 6.3, at 184 mm focal length.

Photographing Motocross for beginners

Positioning yourself in front of a jumping mound can also give you some nice shots, as long as you have your tele lens mounted of course.

The next photograph, shows a racer high above the mound enjoying some real nice air time. My shutter speed was pretty high for this shot, and maybe I should have gone with a shutter speed of around 200 to get some blurring, but as I said at the beginning, I had never done this before, so in the future I will try out some more shots with lower Shutter speed. My settings for this shot were 1/2500 sec, ISO 2000, F 7.1, at 270 mm focal length.

Motocross photography for amateurs

For the next image, I got a little bit lower at the side of the mound, so I was able to get a nice view, looking up at the rider. My settings for this shot were 1/200 sec, ISO 100, F 5, at 50 mm focal length. The wheels have a nice blurry effect again, while the rider is sharp.

Motocross photography for enthusiasts

The last shot I want to show you was at the lowest shutter speed I tried that day, and the blurring is really nice, although I must admit that the rider is also a bit blurry, so I have to practice my panning some more :). My settings for this shot were 1/160 sec, ISO 160, F 5.6, at 65 mm focal length.

Dirt Bike photography for Enthusiasts

Click here to see more motocross photographs

My lessons learned for photographing a motocross event are as follows.

Shoot in shutter speed priority, and try to stay at around 1/200 sec. for blurry backgrounds, and sharp riders. Move around the track, to get different angles of the race.

Bring a tele lens, so you can get shots from drivers further away.

I also tried some continuous shooting during the race, but I mostly stuck to single shots.

When you are photographing, stick you elbows in your side, so you can keep your camera more steady.

If you have some more tips, feel free to leave a comment below!

I also shot some video that day, which you can see below.

More Motocross videos below!

I hope you like the post, so feel free to share if you did 🙂



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