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Posts tagged ‘flash’

Photographing a Cycling Event – My Way

Most of you know that for the last three days I have been photographing the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.  It has been fun, but also very tiring, especially yesterday when it was so hot.  Thankfully it wasn’t today, with the temperature expected to reach 41C (105.8F).  The photos I am going to use were mostly taken yesterday at Williamstown.

Straight from the CornerOne of the type of shots that you want to get is the cyclists coming or going around corners.  I have shown you lots of them over the past few days.  They can be hard to get and you have to have nerve to get them.  Sitting on a corner while cyclists go past can be scary.  They get close.  Most accidents happen on corners, so you may be putting your life in danger as well, so you need to be very careful.  You also need to be careful that you don’t go out too far and cause an accident, it could be an expense experience for you.  I have public liability insurance in case something like that happens.

At an event like this,unless you have accreditation getting on the corners can be almost impossible.

Accredited MediaYou can see the photographers here, they are wearing navy blue media bibs.  I had one of these as well.  To get accreditation you need to apply, and you usually need to be someone who has experience at photographing events like this.  I know that when the event is on next year that there is a good chance that I will get accreditation again because I have done it for the last few years and there hasn’t been a problem.  To get accreditation you need to start with club racing and work your way up.  The more experience you get the more likely it is that you may get accreditation.   There will always be events that you can’t get accreditation for unless you work for a paper or some other media organisation.

In the image above they were getting ready for the finish.  When that happens they all huddle in a group inside those barriers and photograph them as they finish. Only those with bibs are allowed to do that.

Off the GroundTaking photos of cycling from as close to the ground as possible is also one thing that many do.  There is something about an image of a cyclists going past and you are looking up at them.

The Front Straight

To get an image of people going past like this you have to move the camera with them.  They are moving so fast, around 40 to 50 kph, so if you don’t pan, then you will just get blur.  I have plenty of those.

It would be easy to put it on a fast shutter speed, but I use a flash to take these photos.  It isn’t as silly as it sounds, the flash helps to cut through the shadows.   I have the flash set on the strongest setting.   Unlike most sports flash is perfectly fine for cycling.  Apparently the cyclists don’t even notice it.  You can see how much the flash has helped in stopping the shadows from being so harsh.

Cornering with the Sun BehindThe flash has helped a lot here.  The sun was so bright yesterday, and shadows were always going to be a problem. I have found that you have to change the metering on your camera.  You can’t take matrix metering images, it just doesn’t work.  You will often find that the cyclist will become a silhouette with too much light behind.  I use spot metering and spot focusing.  I decide where I want to focus and what I want metered.  That way you can get a well exposed cyclist and the background doesn’t matter so much.  

Entering the First CornerThis group have gone over the start/finish line and are about to enter the corner as they head around for another lap.

When photographing cycling I always use shutter priority.  I set what shutter speed I want and then  let the camera work out aperture.  It isn’t usually a problem.  There are things I have found, you can slow the shutter speed down to 1/60 or 1/100 of a second and you will get that blurred background, but you have to be able to pan with the cyclists.  I don’t know about other photographers, but I like to be able to see a clear face.  I want the face to be in focus. I don’t mind if nothing else is, but I like to see the face.

When they are coming towards you, you need a faster shutter speed.  Because I always have the flash on my camera it means that I can’t get a faster shutter speed than 1/250 of a second.  So the above image would have been shot using that shutter speed.

I want to give Mitchelton Wines a plug here.  They were the main sponsors for the Bay Cycling Classic, and you can see their name everywhere in the above image.  They also do a VIP area, where the VIP’s and the media are allowed.  I got to sample their wines and they were very nice.  It was also good because there was food there as well and much needed water.  I drank so much water over the days when I was photographing this event. So I would like to thank Mitchelton Wines for their support.

More CorneringThis is the women who have just come around another corner into the front straight.  I just put this in because I get the impression you like the images of the cyclists going around corners.  I have so other great ones and if you want to see them I might do another post with them in a week or so, but you have to tell me if you want to see them.

PresentationsAt the end of the day there are presentations.  As this was the last day it was presenting the winners with their prizes and trophies.  They all get champagne, or sparkling white wine, which is what we are supposed to call it.  They open it up and spray it everywhere.  The winner of the Elite Women’s, Melissa Hoskins, decided to spray her podium pals instead of the crowd.

Many will tell you that you need a fast camera to shoot sports, and for most sports that is true.  I purchased the D300s because it took 7 frames a second.  I don’t use that many frames a second for cycling.  I do if I am shooting other sports, like netball, but not for cycling.  They move out of the frame too quickly and you get too many blurred images.  I pan and take one, then get ready for the next the one, picking my next target.  I find I get a much higher success rate that way.

Someone came up to me at an event recently and asked what camera I had and did I have a problem with shutter lag.  That is the time it takes for the camera to actually take the image once you have pressed the shutter-release button.  This person did cycling photography with a film camera many years ago and wanted to get back into it.  He had a camera that was a few models down from mine.  That is something you need to consider if you are going to photograph sports.

I think that is enough.  It isn’t everything, but gives you a look at how I photograph races like criteriums.  I hope you have enjoyed seeing the criterium racing here in Victoria.  It is becoming a bit of a tradition.

Day 22 – Some BMX Racing Photos

So, if you have been reading my blog, then you know that I have been to Shepparton for the State Open Titles for BMX.  It was a great day.  The skies were very overcast in the morning and slowly during the morning they cleared and we got some very blue skies.  Perfect weather for taking photos.

You can see what the sky was like from this one.  This photo is of the AA boys, they were crazy, and so much fun to photograph.  They were the only ones that did the really big jumps.  Would have been great to have got a lot more of them.  These sort of shots remind me of the movie “ET”.

I tried to get more shots this time than I did at Knox with more riders in the air.  This is half the race going over the jumps here.

This the second last straight before the finish, they just seem to bounce up and down all the way along.  Quite amazing to watch.

And more boys getting air, I have a lot of these shots.  The camera was set on continuous clicking and I continuously clicked.  Of course you can see that the light wasn’t good.  I was using a flash, but when you are shooting things straight up into the sun, then you have no hope.  I spent most of the time trying to work out where the sun was and how to use it to my advantage.  Wasn’t always possible as the racing is going on all around you.

I noticed when I was going through my photos this time that I got a lot more facial expressions on the riders.  They are great to see.  You can see the determination, especially on the little kids.  Quite amazing that they show no fear.

It was a great experience and I am hoping that Cycling Victoria send me to more.  Don’t know about making money from it, but will see what happens.  I think the photos I took were great, but will other people think the same?

I was suprised by the other photographers, there weren’t as many as I thought there would be and they didn’t seem to have the expensive equipment that most sports photographers have.  I was the only photographer walking around with two cameras.  Yes, I have two, I have my 80 to 200mm on one camera and my 18 to 105mm on the other.

Most of the photographers were great, and were very nice.  There was one women who was an absolute cow.  She wouldn’t say hello, and was just rude.  I hate it when you see people like that, how hard is it to smile, really, it is so easy.  I don’t know what her problem was.  I told them all I was there to for Cycling Victoria and it was my job to help build up a stock library of BMX racing for them to use.

It was a great experience, I know I’ve said that before.  So different to anything I’ve photographed before and I really want to do it again.  I love the shots I am getting now, but I wonder if I can get even better shots with lots more practice.

Practice makes perfect.

When You Aren’t Prepared

This isn’t a good photo.  Not by far.  It is the type of photo you get when you aren’t prepared.

I loved the window frame and the view behind it, but with no tripod, I was limited with how I could take the photo.  I also should have used the flash and bounced some light around inside the house.  I should have also put some more lights on inside to help with the light.

It is easy to look at a photo and know that it isn’t good and that it needs something.  Sometimes you have to photograph something a few times before you truly work out what is missing and what you need to do to it.

I am hoping I get a chance to go back sometime and do this again.  Perhaps try taking the same image several times at different times of the day.  Maybe put something on the table.  If I get another chance, I will put some photos here.

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