The bikes that made their way to the track up Bluff Hill in the Pre ‘82 class at the 2015 Bluff Promotions NZ Hill Climb Champs were a diverse range of machines. They ranged from hot street bikes to high performance sidecars, while the intrepid riders hailed from Invercargill to Waihi, Timaru, Greymouth, Geraldine, Richmond and Pahiatua to participate in this thrilling event that kicked off the 2015 Burt Munro Challenge. The Post Classic Pre ‘82 class are motorcycles built or manufactured between 1st November 1972 and 31st December 1982.
Classic Motorcycle Bluff Hill Challenge
The priority in shooting Classic Motorcycle action photography at the Burt is of course the need for speed, but on the Bluff Hill Climb course there is also the opportunity to select viewpoints that simultaneously allow the capture of a backdrop of signature Southland scenery. The speed of the photographer’s eye and quick reactions to anticipate and catch the moment, the speed of the camera, tuning the settings and reacting smoothly and quickly to capture the sharper image. Most of the time good sports images are taken when the subject is in motion, with Classic motrocycle photography on Bluff Hill attention to shutter speeds is essential, but for great shots so is your viewpoint, and very often the lowest point of view is the best for hero shots of the speeding bike and rider as they approach and sweep by.
A fast shutter speed freeze-frame is often not the optimum setting to be employed. To the contrary, when shooting motorcycle racing slower shutter speeds, around 1/300–1/350 of a second introduce the selective subject movement, specifically blurring of the rotating wheels, that intensifies the feeling of action in the image. The technique of ‘panning with the subject’ while tracking the action incorporates a slower shutter speed which keeps the main subject sharp while motion-blurring other detail in the image through the lens. This gallery of contains start-to-finish sequences of shots of all the riders in Post Classic Pre ’82 Class from three vantage points, ascending Flagstaff Road, Bluff Hill.
|#||Name||Make & Model|
|018||Kevin Ryan||1966 Triumph Bonneville 800|
|024||Chris McMeeken||1979 Suzuki GS 1000<|
|071||Anthony Tutty||1981 Suzuki GSR 1100|
|082z||Randal Scott||1982 Suzuki RM 250|
|099||Brian Stephens||1981 Suzuki GSX 110|
|222||Kevin Kinghan||1978 Suzuki GS1000S 1085|
|242||John Blaymires||1975 Motoguzzi Le Mans Sidecar 950|
|480||Gordon Beeby||1982 Honda CR 480|
MagentaDot Brands photographer, Shaun Waugh reports:
“To capture breathtaking Classic Motorcycle action photos is something of a high-wire act. To compose the sharper image, well exposed, smooth reactions and speed are only part what of what is needed on the course by the photographer. The other elements are knowledge, awareness, and because you‘re bound to keep a safe distance from the action, being well prepared with a couple of cameras with long lenses that cover a good spread of focal length. Knowing the sport, the position of the sun relative to the sections of the course that will yield optimum, well leaned over, high velocity, high-side photos is one consideration. Another is knowing where competitive riders are likely to bunch up and vie for position.. Familiarity with the track on the day, and the sort of affinity with the sport that comes from chatting with riders, these all develop your instinct for what might happen next and where it is likely to happen.Classic motorcycle circuit races are very short in duration—three to five laps at the most, from go to whoa in about 10 minutes. So while the subject passes your viewpoint at regular intervals you really are committed to one or at the most two viewpoints per race (if you are prepared to run for it). This along with continuous shooting mode, Auto Focus Servo and centre-weighted metering gives the opportunity to capture good sharp, well exposed images of all colour-ways of bikes and riders. I’ve noticed that the light, high contrast graphical bikes are easier for the camera’s autofocus servo to lock onto, while the dark-and-dangerous look favoured by many motorcyclists is more difficult to capture a sharper image of at speed in anything other than fully sunlit conditions. Given the risks associated with panning with a moving subject at slower shutter speeds and framing it well, especially if the subject is a black bike with a rider in black leathers, there is little opportunity to vary the shooting of the same subject as it comes back around the course. There is no time to be chimping your shots on the camera, so you must repeat the same panning sequences with much the same selection of bikes each lap to have a chance of capturing a few breathtaking action shots in each race. Capturing sequences of Hill Climb riders from Start to Finish means committing the full day to shooting the practice and two timed runs they had in the event.”
Design firm: MagentaDot Brands
Photographer, Desktop publishing: Shaun Waugh
Client: Phil Price / Velocette Racing New Zealand