Autocross at the Stroud Tornado Mall
This weekend I was able to go with some friends to a local autocross event held in Stroud, Oklahoma. A few years back Stroud was hit by a rather devastating tornado which completely destroyed an outlet mall along highway 44. What sits there now is a parking lot which has been converted into Stroud Tornado Mall, a racetrack where local SCCA events are held. The weather was nice but the sun was in full force and I ended up with a pretty nasty sunburn. It was very fun to take pictures of something totally new to me though.
(click for larger versions of any of these photos)
First, there were lots of photographers there. Most were casual hobbyists like myself, but even some more professional people showed up. The race organizers required that photogs have spotters if they want to go on the actual track, but I didn’t want to bother anyone with having to tag along with me, and it turns out I didn’t really even need one. There were plenty of vantage points off-track to take good pictures.
The general rule for photographing moving subjects is to lead the target and give them some room in the frame so it looks like they’re going forward. Essentially, leave blank space in front of the cars so it looks like they’ve got some place to go. It works well but it’s kind of hard to pull off. I got better at it as the day went along.
A friend there had a much nicer telephoto zoom lens than the one I brought with me. I just have an old Tamron 70-300 lens, this guy had a nicer Canon 70-300mm lens that had built-in image stabilization. When set to Mode 2 the IS is designed for panning shots, which are excellent for race tracks. You can really get some good motion blur when you drag the shutter a little. Most of the good ones were taken around 1/60th of a second. Kedrick, the guy who lent me the lens for the day, is the driver behind the Red Mazda (#89).
Action shots were hard. Looking through a telephoto lens while trying to track action on a tight crop was a lot harder than I expected. I broke general rules of photography a lot with regards to framing subjects. Mostly “don’t cut off subjects so you can’t see them in their entirety” went entirely out the window. Also tossed aside was the rule that “motion should move towards negative space”. Still though, its cool to have a picture of your friends car with one wheel off the ground. That doesn’t happen every day.
I managed to get lots of closeups of my friends faces which was cool. The look of concentration on the drivers faces, and the look of fear on some of the passengers is amazing. They’re not totally interesting from a photographic standpoint, but still fun to have caught pictures of.
Overall, I had fun. Totally worth the sunburn. Next time I’ll bring a hat though.
To view the entire collection of photos use the following guest pass @ flickr. I don’t want to clog up my entire photostream with all the photos so only a few are viewable to the public. The following link will let you look at everything.