Hi everyone, we recently had an event in Queenstown where a number of riders and skiiers are invited to perform stunts on rails in the town centre. It's a really fun evening and they truck in a load of snow from The Remarkables range so they have a soft(ish) landing!
At this kind of evening event a lens with a fast aperture and an external flashgun can prove invaluable. I shot the following images from a distance of 5-10m with an 85mm f1.8 lens on a Canon EOS 5D with a Speedlite 580 EX II flashgun.
None of the images have been cropped, so as you can see, I may have actually been better off with a slightly shorter lens for this event and position - the 50mm would have been perfect.
The 85mm f1.8 can certainly focus quickly, but I found it easiest to manually prefocus on the desired spot and take the photo as the rider reached it. I also experimented with slower shutter speeds and following the rider as I took the shot in an attempt to blur the background a little and introduce the feeling of motion - the shots taken without this felt too static, although a closer position would have allowed me to better isolate the rider against the background with a smaller depth of field.
Anyway, enough talk - here's the action!
Canon EOS 5D, 800 ISO, 85mm f1.8 at f2.2, 1/160 with external flash, not cropped
Canon EOS 5D, 800 ISO, 85mm f1.8 at f3.2, 1/100 with external flash, not cropped
Canon EOS 5D, 800 ISO, 85mm f1.8 at f2.8, 1/100 with external flash, not cropped
Canon EOS 5D, 800 ISO, 85mm f1.8 at f2.2, 1/100 with external flash, not cropped
I'm pleased to report the setup worked well with a surprising number of sharp and well-exposed shots - I shot about 200 photos and had about a 25% success rate, which I'm very happy with. I'd really recommend an external flash gun for anyone wanting to cover this kind of action, and I'm pleased I opted for the faster focal ratio of a fixed lens compared to a zoom.
The pros covering the event were closer to the action and using either fast primes or ultra wide zooms. It was almost 100% Canon action and I spotted a couple of 50mm f1.2 lenses - nice! There were also a few remote flashes positioned close to the action.