I was walking around in town taking pictures of stuff, and I met some bmx'ers who were riding some gaps at the park. Took some pictures, thought I'd post them here.
Click to enlarge.
It was basically my first time taking BMX pics, and my first action shots with my 350D. Lenses used were the 18-55mm kit lens and Canon 50mm f/1.8, if anyone's interested. Comments are welcome.
No, I'm not in any of them, I was behind the camera and I suck at riding anyway.
I would say compositionally challenged, and poor exposure.
Set the exposure compensation to +1 if you're shooting a backlit subject, and take your camera out of auto mode and into the sports mode. That will give you a high shutter speed and large aperture. Also, when it's late in the day, if you get within 10 feet of your subject, use the flash. You can also try panning with a low shutter speed. You need to get rid of that messy background.
The low camera angle works, but is so overused in magazines, it's nothing new. Another thing to try is setting the focus to M, and focussing on the spot where your action will be. Combining this with a high shutter speed and large aperture will reduce the busy background. Doesn't look like you were panning, unless your shutter speed was really high. And don't set the ISO too high, that only gives you more depth of field when you don't want it.
The ISO doesn't really give you more depth of field... but I'd have to lower it to use a slower speed and try panning.. So should I try and use a larger aperture rather than a slower shutter speed/panning? Because at 1.8 the light would be pretty bright even at ISO 100, so it'd have to be sort of fast to not overexpose.
The higher the ISO, the more depth of field you'll end up with. The exposure algorithms built into the camera will specify a certain shutter speed, and once that's reached, it will choose a smaller aperture. Stick with 100 and good technique. You can also try setting it to AV, and selecting f2.8 or f4. Then it it will automatically choose the corresponding shutter speed, which will be pretty high during the middle of the day. For morning or evening, do the opposite - set it to TV, and choose a shutter speed around 1/500 or above. That should keep your aperture small.
Composition is easy. First thing you want to do is forget about your subject. Start looking at what's behind it and all around it. Your 3rd photo is a perfect exmaple. The pole that runs up his ass and out his head could have been avoided. Watch for trees, poles, and telephone lines. Try to find an uncluttered background. It's pretty sweet when you can frame them against blue sky, with trees on either side. That's the only reason you should be using the low angles.
Once you work that out, then go back to your subject. Avoiding sticking it at the edge of the image, it looks bad. Another thing is to give them room in the frame to move. Doesn't matter which direction they're going, although we do tend to read left to right. It's important that it looks like they're moving across the image, not out of it. Make sense?
I'm off to work, but if you're bored, go find my old thread of Aussie BMX photos.
Thanks for uploading them, those are cool. I like the one of the pack of riders best - what length of lenses were you using?
I know somebody who races at the track here, maybe I can go with him and take pics sometime.