Fast Bikes, Low Light and Fog

Makin’ the Gap

Originally uploaded by hawridger.

Here’s another shot from the 2007 NORBA Showdown at Sugar. This particular shot comes from part of the downhill course where there riders clear roughly a 10′ gap over a creek. Needless to say, they’re moving on at this point. That’s where my problem arose though.

Thankfully, it didn’t rain (much) at the race or I probably would have packed up my Canon Rebel XT and headed home. However, the conditions were less than ideal for shooting action shots. It was plenty overcast, this part of the course was complete under cover of trees, and it was rather foggy at times due to the elevation.

I think I would have felt fine without the fog; however, the fog really caused some lighting issues that I didn’t know how to resolve on-site. This left me with several photos that seemed washed out – like a white film over the whole image due to the moisture particles reflecting the flash. The only solution that I could come up with was in Lightroom – and this is where shooting RAW, I think, saved my butt. I was able to boost contrast and blacks enough to resolve the fog issue on the image for most shots so that they are now usable.

All of the photos at this creek jump has some fog in them (see gallery). Some more than others. I am satisfied with the post-processing results; however, I’d like to know what some of you guys (and gals) think about my lighting quagmire on-site. Is there a better solution for shooting in fog with my setup (particularly, you strobist wizards)? If not, is there something else that I need in order to be prepared for these conditions?

My setup: Canon Rebel XT, 18-55 Kit Lens for wides & Sigma 70-200 f/2.8; EX 420 Speedlight.

My settings: Shutter priority — Wides – roughly 1/60s to 1/125s with panning — Zooms – 1/200s minimum; ISO 400 (I really don’t like the grain above 400)

[tags]photography, lighting, fog, cycling, bike, mountain, biking, downhill, jump, strobist, canon, sigma, flash, how to[/tags]