Monday, April 28, 2014

The MRF Challenge – Racing Event – Feb’14

Racing brings the technological superiority to the fore that goes behind the performance of any automobile. Be it the lubricant oil, fuel, engine, brake, ….  tyre, et al..,

For MRF, the Formula 2000 Racing is a laboratory to do the litmus test on the tyre. A milestone to pomp off !  A cheer, for me as a person working in MRF.

If you know what to tune, you can bypass your peer! A precision up the notch, does make your knife hotter to cut the cheesy competition ahead and make the push forward. So, the folks who race, have the prowess in churning out the best of the products that stand out in the market.

For me  as an employee @ MRF and as photographer by hobby, I make sure not to miss the race event at NAMMA Chennai. Its a five hours bus journey for me.

Since the year 2010, as a regular to the MRF racing events, it’s a ground for me to hone in an additional spice to up my learning curve in clicking a photograph that stands a notch higher in my archives.

What I have done so far in race photography?
I have succeeded in taking sufficient number of panned shots of MRF Formula Racing cars.

What is panning?
Panning is a technique in photography which, if done right, would give a crisp image of the racing vehicle in the foreground and a blurred background. The racing effect on the vehicle gives a dramatic effect to the photograph. This is done by moving the camera in tandem with the speed of the racing car / bike. Panned shots were usually clicked by professionals using DSLR cameras. 

The haiku for yours truly is that, I learnt to churn out panned photographs of racing vehicles using my ordinary digital camera in its Auto mode. NOT AN EASIER TASK THOUGH! So much of trial and error have gone in this interesting experiement over the past few years.  Now, making a successful panned shot is a cake walk.

Got this panned photograph after trying some 25 clicks of the high speed cars racing on the track this time.

In the initial days of trying out panned shots, it was almost impossible, to get a good panned photograph. The factor of improbability did gave me a loaf of thrill to do more and more tries, to get that good panned photograph. Now, it has become easy, so is the thrill in clicking, which has got diluted a bit.

I now wanted to do something new.

What now?
Why not click a reverse of what I do in panned photography?
Let the racing car appear blurred in the foreground. Let there be a crispier background. Lets see if such a photograph looks interesting…

“FujiFilm F770EXR” recently got to be a family member with me. This is a bit advanced point & shoot digital camera bought a few months back. It has a Manual Mode option which invited me to play some new experiments during this event. In the manual mode, I have the option to fix the shutter speed and aperture.

I attended this MRF Challenge Racing event on 15 and 16 Feb’14. So, after initially roaming around the MMRT race track, having talked with few race marshals, learned to recognize the difference between the F1600 and F2000. F2000 is a little fatter boy as well a faster chick.

So, decided to fix a spot near the finish line and planned to do my experiment to get a dramatic photograph. The spot I choose was the one near the finish line.

As the race car sped past the finish line, I clicked my camera.  Many a time, there would be no car in my frame. Realized that these cars are more faster than what I thought. It was really tough to capture the car inside my frame. As I pursued in clicking few more photographs, I managed to get the nose of the car. Some times, the tail end got captured.

After a number of tries, finally honed the craft of discovering the split second wherein the speeding car would be inside my frame. After a few efforts, I succeeded to have the car inside my frame.


It was time, I had clicked sufficient number of pictures successfully. All these have been in the camera’s Auto Mode, I went back through all the clicks to understand the shutter speed and aperture taken by the camera. Realized that, the camera was taking around 1/320 seconds as its shutter speed, and aperture at around 4.

Now, how about playing around the Manual mode of the camera? Its gonna be a first time experience. It was the time when last two laps have been on the go. I then switched the camera into manual mode. Got to set the shutter to 1/320 and aperture to around 4. It was really a "butterfly in stomach" moment.

Since the final lap is going to end in a couple of minutes, it was a moment of adrenaline gush in me. If I fail in this experiment, I need to wait for an year to do the next try. There were no option either for me to do sufficient number of tries. While I was ready, the last but one lap was on the go. I managed to click two cars, but there was no time to review the result.

It was the grand final happening. I just clicked the first car when it neared the finish line. A bit of confidence in me, and divine intervention got me to successfuly freeze the first car of the grand final lap as its nose just touched the finish line.

The spurt in the mood of the cheering crowd in the back ground spiced up the drama in this picture. A first experiment that succeeded, an additional feather on to my cap.

A memorable experience indeed !

Hey, where are the other photographs ? I hear you asking.

The photo log of the whole racing  event is available at my Face Book album here. Though its too many number of photographs there, I am sure you would fret if you do not have a look. Please log into facebook and enjoy my racing photography.