Last night a few local photographers and I went to the Indianapolis Speedway to shoot some of the late evening activities the night before the Indianapolis 500. Traditionally a fusion of alcohol, bodies, smells, colors, and sounds. In other words, a photo rich environment.
With my after dark photo experience I figured this couldn’t be too challenging. I was wrong.
First, I brought too much kit. I really didn’t need to bring my Tokina SD 12-24mm f/4 DX lens and my tripod. I also brought extra batteries for my Nikon SB-600 flash which was just added weight. Secondly, the lighting was really crazy. It was pitch black outside, but the location had all types of mixed lighting from the streetlights, lights at the track, lights from the vendor’s booths, etc. Everything was mixed lighting and it was different every 5-10 yards.
The tripod was really not needed because there were so many people a tripod was not practical. Also with all the people moving around any long exposure work would have been a motion-blur-a-rama. I stuck to my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses because I needed the wide aperture. That’s why I didn’t use the Tokina lens. Too slow for most of the shots.
What I did was set my camera to aperture priority, f/stop between the maximum lens aperture and up to f/8 to get good DOF. And I hate to admit it, but I used auto-ISO. Please don’t hate me. I tried to keep the ISO as low as possible at first, but really didn’t have much luck. I also used my flash for about ½ the shoot when shooting up close. The problem with flash photography in a setting like last night is there are always people that just don’t want to be photographed. Go figure! And combine that with alcohol, and, well you know how that can turn out. No flash equals more incognito.
Anyway, it was a good time hanging with a few local photographers. I ended up focusing more on capturing the moment versus getting crazy good images. A good decision.