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I wanted to switch things up this week and keep the Supercross theme going but talk about a specific type of shooting. My example for this week’s Behind the Lens is a shot of Justin Barcia taking the victory at an extremely wet 2019 Anaheim Supercross opener.
With about half of the stadiums in Monster Energy Supercross being of the open roof variety, sometimes the weather is a concern when shooting SX. Keeping camera gear functioning when the weather gets wet and nasty and continuing to keep telling the story takes a bit of preparation and experience. The first step is to have some sort of rain covers. I’ve got a couple of fancy covers, made by ThinkTankPhoto that work really well but they’re expensive and kind of bulky. Great to have but they take up a lot of space. I also keep some cheap and inexpensive clear plastic covers, made by OpTech, on me at all times. You can get a pair of these for 10 bucks and they fold really small and flat. There’s no excuse not to have them in your camera bag at all times. They don’t work as well as the custom ones, but they help keep your cameras dry in a pinch.
At this race in 2019, it had been dry most of the day, so when it started raining during the night show, I pulled out the OP Tech covers and kept the cameras dry. There are some changes to the shooting style that I have to make when shooting in the rain. I’m usually shooting in full manual exposure mode, constantly changing my settings as I shoot, but with the rain covers my access to the dials is restricted. So, I tend to set my exposure and aperture to the settings that I want and use the Auto ISO function to let the camera choose what it thinks is the best setting for the photo. It doesn’t work as well, but it lets me focus on shooting and not trying to work the buttons that are now encased in plastic and hard to find.
Rain and mud are hard on camera gear, but I find when you can nail a shot in the rain, it adds another layer of drama, which is why this shot of Justin Barcia taking the win at Angel Stadium has always stood out to me. The emotion of finally winning after a few years of struggles and then persevering in the terrible conditions really showed the weight lifting off of his shoulders. It would be the start of a run of three straight years of winning the Supercross opener for Barcia.
For this shot, I set my camera at a shutter speed of 1/1600 and an aperture of F5. The camera selected an iso of 5000 with the auto ISO function. As often for many of my shots, I used my 300mm lens.