The first big cycling event for 2011. Lots and lots of riders, and lots and lots of spectators, and of course lots and lots of photographers. Seems like every second person there had a camera. There were many official photographers there, as always, from various media outlets and some freelancers like me. There seemed to be people with blue bibs everywhere, the blue bibs indicating that they have media accreditation. I had one as well for each day.
This was my second year at the bay crits. Last year when I did it I felt I had a lot to learn, being one of the first real events that I had photographed. At that time I had only had my camera for less than a month and still didn’t really know what I was doing. I’ve learned a lot since then and my goals have changed for taking photos at events like this. I was keen to have another go and had been waiting for this event for the last few months. Though, having said that, with all the crap that has happened recently, regarding other photographers, my keenness did deteriorate somewhat. Even once I got there I was nervous. With what happened at the Tour of Geelong, I didn’t want to be the cause of anything.
I also know when I go to events like this my agenda is very different to the other photographers. Of course, I want to sell photos, but I also know that the likelihood of that is very slim, I’m not known well enough in those circles to get the people wanting to buy images from me. Though, really I went there to get images for myself. I got some good shots last year that have been turned into lino cuts and one is being transformed into a painting. I wanted to get more shots this year. I know more about what type of shots I need now.
The people organising the event were fantastic. As Amy’s ride was on in the morning for the first day I volunteered to help, Dave and Briony were doing that, so I had quite a few hours to fill in and volunteering to help seemed a good way to pass the time. I got put in charge of the VIP car park. I had to let people in and turn people away. It is not the best job, but luckily only a few people got angry with me. I had to let Phil Liggett in and that gave me an opportunity to speak to him and say hello. I was on car park duty for about 4 hours before I had to go and get ready for the crits. I should also say thank you to Kylie for staying with me, catching up and keeping each other company while there. It was great seeing her again.
The person from Jump Media was also great, David. Once I found him and got my media vest from him each day, then I was on my own to photograph whatever I wanted, well of the racing anyway.
One of the biggest differences between last year and this is that I know have the second camera and the wide angle lens. I would be able to vary what type of shots I took. It was going to be interesting comparing the shots from last year with this year.
The first day was not special. I found it a bit hard to adapt. The racing was so fast and I couldn’t seem to keep up with it. I had photographed the race on the same circuit last year, so I was familiar with it and had even used one of the photos for a linocut. I had expectations of what I wanted, but once I got there I felt lost. Strange, to be somewhere that is known, but not really knowing what to do. Could I even expect to get new photos.
I had the new flash on the camera with the larger telephoto and the old flash with the wide angle. I had hoped that with the flashes I would be able to get rid of the harsh shadows, didn’t really work. Sometimes it did. Really something I need to practice.
The next day was in Portarlington, and somewhere I had never been before. It was all new and I have to admit that I was looking forward to it, though not looking forward to dealing with all the other photographers. My favourite photos of the day were taken on corner one. I used the wide angle and the flash (photo right). I really like the surreal aspect of them. The lighting doesn’t seem natural, and in a way it isn’t. I love the sky in the background over the bay.
I got quite a few shots like this, and some with more than one cyclist in it. I don’t know about using them for prints, but I would like to have a go at using them for paintings. I think large scale, though I don’t have the room for that, but maybe one day. It is nice to see some images that would work as paintings, I hope so anyway. I just need to get over my fear of painting.
Stage 3 was back in Geelong and was the hot dog circuit that I didn’t do last year. It was right on the beach and should have been a gorgeous place to get some scenic shots, but with all the barriers, the port-a-lous and whatnot spaced out on the beach side, it meant it was too hard to get any good shots. Let me show you what I mean. See the photo on the left, you can see what is in the background. However, on the other side of these obstacles there was some lovely scenery.
If I want to use any of the photos then I’m going to have to use photoshop to get rid of a lot of things in the background. Though if I use them as paintings then I can construct the background as I choose. There is red tape all along the side of the road and some barriers and lots of people. I need to delete those things from the image to make them better to look at. I suppose that is one of the disadvantages of using images from races, there are always going to be obstacles in the photos.
I didn’t enjoy the hotdog circuit, I found it a bit repetitive and was struggling to keep coming up with new things to do. In the end I ended up doing the same sort of photos and used it as practice to get better at certain types of photos. I do love photos on corners. There weren’t a lot of corners, only 2 really, so I didn’t have much choice as far as variety went.
The last day was at Williamstown. I always think of Williamstown as the day it all started to make sense for me last year. I started experimenting with the settings on the camera and stuff started to change in my photos from then on.
This year I wanted to try more shots, concentrate on the actual cyclists. I found the course really restrictive this year. There weren’t many places to actually get in to take photos. There seemed to be barriers up everywhere and no where to take photos, except over the barriers. I was allowed out on a couple of corners, though one overzealous marshal was convinced that I wasn’t allowed around one, however someone must have spoken to her and the next time I tried she didn’t say anything. It was a scary spot with them coming very close to me, but I followed Grant’s instructions, the commissaire, on that corner, and knew I would safe. Still the adrenalin was pumping. I saw a couple of photographers doing it last year and I wasn’t game to try it then, but this year it was definitely something I wanted to try.
Over the four days some of the best shots I took were at Williamstown and they came about from me feeling constricted by the barriers. I started using the wide angle and taking photos over the barrier. Check out a couple.
The angles are really strange and when I was going through the photos I was getting really dizzy looking at them one after another. I think the angle is great and would like to do something with them. I have a lot of them, so not sure yet what I will use them for, whether they will end up as paintings, or prints, but I know I want to use them in something.
Again I like the surreal affect of them, or even the abstract nature of them. The angle they are taken seems all wrong, I think that is what makes them work.
So overall photographing the Bay Crits was a good experience, I found it a lot more difficult than last year. I did end up with a range of photos and some that I’m really happy with, even some I love. I would do it again, I think, though after doing all four days this time, not sure if I would do the same again.
Lastly I would like to thank all the commissaires for being really good to me and helping me out. They answered my questions and let me know where I could go and couldn’t. It was great also when I didn’t know anyone they let me hang around where they were. I really appreciate their support. They do a fantastic job.