Picture of the week

May 3, 2015

AMA Sonoma motorcycle races

On the Line

A Ducati motorcyclist at the AFM sportbike races as held at the Sonoma Raceway (aka Sears Point) this week. Note the burn marks and holes on this particular rider's leathers. No doubt caused from at least one previous crash while pushing the limits on the bike.  A sure sign of an aggressive competitor.

I spent Sunday out at the track, watching and photographing all the semi-pro sport bike racers affiliated with the American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) give it everything they got.  I really admire their guts and perserverance, given most of these racers are self-funded in their passion for this adrenaline inducing sport. One mistake and you can end up skidding down the asphalt or the dirt at over 100 mph, and hopefully without breaking any bones or too many contusions.  You can see a more comprehensive gallery of images I captured at this event on my motorcycle corner page here.  This reflects images captured at various points along the track for different categories of races from production to modified.  One motorcycle crash was also captured as it unfolded as shown starting with image 93. Fortunately it appears the rider was able to walk away intact after of course tending to his precious speed machine.  You can't help but think he wanted to see if he could quickly get back on and ride it again, if it wasn't missing a few important parts like a seat!  It appears the cause of this particular crash was the result of getting a little too close to the edge of the outside on Turn One as shown by some other riders skirting it in image 102.  It was also admirable to watch one racer on what looked like a modified supermoto KTM. With its higher riding position, the rider really had to do some serious body movements to get the weight low enough in the corners (see images 65 and 70)

The above image was captured with my Canon EOS 7D mark II with a EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens handheld. I purposely kept the shutter speed fairly slow at 1/320 of a second in order to achieve more motion blur and better illustrate the speed of the bike.  It takes some practice to keep your panning steady while maintaining focus lock and without motion blur on the motorcyclist.  The trade-off for a slower shutter speed is having more throwaway images, but you are rewarded by more compelling and dynamic images when you get it right.