Motorcross riders by Michael Fullana (Website | Instagram):
After 30 years of commercial photography, a move to Central Florida, a son’s first dirt bike, and a passion for an extreme sport, were the factors that got me into Motocross Photography. After taking photos of my son on a motocross track for his first ride, I was immediately hooked. The grace, bike control, and finesse that the riders exhibit flying through the tracks is mesmerizing. To me, it feels like watching a symphonic performance where the roar of the motor represents the crescendos and you feel the highs and lows of the performance deep in your soul.
The same meticulous planning that goes into my commercial photography is applied to my motocross photos. When out on the track, I choose angles and locations of where to shoot not only based on the direction of the light hitting my subject, but also the colors of the bikes and the biker’s jersey against the background. Scouting the different locations and taking a few test shots is the first thing I do when first arriving at the track. I then discuss my concept shots with the rider to ensure they understand the goals and can execute my vision. It’s important to note though, that during a race, I have less control of this level of planning and detail. The best l I can do is pick my best locations for lighting and backgrounds and let the riders do their thing.
Track safety is of utmost importance. I always do all of my shooting right along the perimeter of the path the riders choose on the track. Wearing a bright yellow safety vest is a must. Thinking ahead is critical. If a rider loses control or two riders crash, you have to think ahead on which way is the momentum going to carry the bikes? When crossing the track, you always cross in front of the jumps. Never cross the track from a blindside where you can’t see if a rider is approaching. Getting hit by a bike that weighs approximately 250 lbs and traveling at over 45 mph is definitely something you want to avoid at all costs.
I use Nikon cameras for my action shots and Pentax Medium Format 645z for my on-location Rider Portraits. For the portrait sessions, I use the 645z, and depending on the final look I want, I use various lenses from 35mm to 300mm. I use Flashpoint Xplor 600’s as my on-location lights which offer high-speed synch on the 645z. With high-speed sync, I can blend the ambient lighting with my strobes or even overpower the ambient light for dramatic effects. I also use the Xplor 600’s ganged up to a 1200ws head for on track has shots with my Nikon set up.
For the action shots, I use a D5 and a D850 with lenses ranging from 24-120 for tight wide-angle shots, Sigma Sport 120-300, Nikon 400mm 2.8G and a Nikon 600mm f4 G. I always use two bodies and go out on the track carrying the 600, 400 and the 120-300 most of the time. I use a think tank skin set with the 24-120 in a pouch. The lens I select, depends on the look I want for the final shot envisioned in my mind.
I am very grateful and often thank my son, Little Michael, for getting on the track with his first dirt bike. It has not only afforded me a great father and son time with both my boys, but it exposed me to a new type of photography I hadn’t otherwise considered. After 30 years of shooting commercial photography, Motorcross Photography has become my favorite to shoot.
Samples of my work can be found at:
If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.
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