This last weekend, I, and another six Genesis Coupe’s and an Elantra drove from Ottawa to Whitby for a Charity KDM meet at Ontario Hyundai. A great time was had in general. But, as is the case with any good car meet, there’s opportunities for photography.
What I’ve wanted to do for a while is Rolling Shots. This is different to panning (although the effect is similar): basically, in panning, you focus on a subject as it goes past you, and track it while you open the shutter: this blurrs the background, but keeps the subject sharp. The photographer is stationary. In a Rolling shot, you’re shooting from another vehicle, and are attempting to match the speed of the subject, focus on them, and the movement of the photographer and subject causes the background to blur.
Obviously, keeping the two objects, subject and photographer, moving at the same speed for long enough to focus and expose creates challenges. Especially when you’re driving as well.
So, to combat this issue, I set up a rig. I should have taken a picture of it, and I will the next time I use it, but this is basically what I used: Simply, a Fat Gecko dual suction mount, an extension pack for the same, my trusty Nikon D70s and Nikon 18-70mm f3.5-5.6, and the Nikon MC-DC1 remote shutter release. I mounted the Fat Gecko on the inside of the passenger side windshield, the camera on it, level with the car/window, and aimed out the passenger side window at about 60 degrees. I ran the remote release cable from the camera, and put it next to the shifter so it was in easy reach, set the camera to autofocus, and (I thought) to shutter priority, with a 1/50th shutter speed.
It’s a pretty simple set-up, all given.
What I got was … tolerable:
Keep in mind, these are cropped a lot: I had a lot of my car window/door/b-pillar in the shot. As you can see in this one:
Or this one, with rather more of the door/arm rest in it than I’d like:
I got my GoPro in the shot, too. I left it in the crop because, well, it’s kinda interesting. It’s interesting for a single shot. However, I want to show more of the road-blur in the shot, and no ‘shoot car’ showing up in the shot. So, it means re-organizing how I shoot.
Because obviously, I mind screwin’ around with this stuff.
I had to do a ton of post-production. It turns out, I hadn’t set the camera to Shutter priority, I’d set it to manual. So, what I’d ended up with was f/8, 1/50th sec. I had a ton of blow-out and over-exposure because of this: the sun came up around 7am, and got bright quick. It was most problematic on the white Genesis, and the black elantra (which was surprising to me, I’ll be honest: white is tough to shoot and equalize, but I expected the black to not be an issue. It was so well waxed, however…) I had also, unfortunately, locked my focus point to the RIGHT, rather than center of the field of view, which meant I was getting focused shots of the cars, but with a lot more B-pillar in the shot, and then losing focus when they got up closer to where I expected and wanted them to be.
Live and learn. And check yer damn settings.
In the future, I’ll shoot with proper settings (shutter priority, center focus), and I want to move the camera further up the windshield, and out a little, so I can shoot at a 45 degree angle out of the window. that’ll get me the shot I want more, I think. Also, I’d kinda like to extend the length of the arm of the mount that the camera is on, but Fat Gecko don’t make a longer extension, which means I gotta improvise. I wonder if anyone I know can make the piece I need on a metal lathe?
Hmmm, it occurs to me I could close the sunroof, and attach the FatGecko to that, and ‘hang’ the camera from it. That might get me more where I want to be AND be able to verify my angle by getting my head behind the camera/viewfinder before we go. This is the only issue with my older camera: no live-view on the screen, it’s review only, so, for setting up, I have to be able to get my head where the camera is, or take random shots, review, and move based on that. It’s a little trial-and-error-y for me, so if I can find a better way to do it, I will.
Still, these are all the things that make this stuff fun. Experimenting with the hardware until I get the kind of set-up I want, leading me to be able to get the shots I want with less drama involved in shooting them. More consistency, that’s what I’m looking for.