Monday, June 6, 2011

On Assignment : Vision Trek 10k

This shoot was from early March, but I was contacted about being the event photographer back in October. The event coordinator had seen my work with the Atlanta Track Club and wanted the same level of photography for this event.
I expected it to be cold and dressed myself as if I was going to be a participant. Many times, I've worn jeans and jacket, this time, I went with cold weather wicking clothes. The weather called for rain. I was hoping it wasn't going to be pouring. Although my camera is weather sealed, I don't think it would've survived a down pour.

It was 30º F with a light but constant drizzle. I wasn't familiar with the course and decided to at least go 1 mile onto the trail and look for a good location for some great shots. As you can tell from the image above, this was a technical trail run with some steep hills. Needless to say, I got a workout in, hiking in with camera gear in a backpack. I actually got off the race course at one point and had to run back to make sure I didn't miss the first runners coming through.

I found a nice level area that the runners would go through and shot them coming through.

Every once in a while I'd rotate and shoot down the trail. As you can see from this other shot, it's a steep downhill that most people walked. The worst part, they had to come back up that steep trail.

Here you can see the leader coming back up the trail. He did not look happy. He walked the whole way up.

After a couple shots of runners not looking their best and the images not looking exciting (who wants photos of themselves looking down and tired), I moved 50 yards up the trail for a better photo opportunity.

Just moving down the trail, it gave the runners an opportunity to catch their breath, and compose themselves for  the shot.

Since I was wearing a bright yellow and blue jacket, they could easily see me and they pushed themselves a bit and even smiled for the camera. Moving 50 yards, made a huge difference in the look of these photos.

As I've mentioned before, I like moving around and getting different angles. I might not be able to get everyone, but it gives the impression that there are multiple photographers on the course if I move to different locations and change up the angles I shoot from.

This time around I moved only 20 yards up the trail. It was a flat and wide section. Unlike the other shots where the trail has a lot of trees and several turns within 30 yards, this area allowed to show a bit more depth and isolate the runners from the trees in the background.

There were several trees that were down along the trail and that gave me the opportunity to climb up, as they simulated a high platform to shoot from. Once again, I was very visible from this point and got some great shots as the runners came by.

Because it was overcast, I shot at a higher ISO that normal (1600), but I needed to go that high to get a 1/640 shutter speed to freeze the action. I also shot at ƒ/3.2 using my 70-200 mm lens. A 580EXII in HyperSync Speed mode helped in  providing some fill light.

I got quite a workout hiking these trails. This is not an easy race. I had done an 11 mile race a couple weeks before nearby and it was easy compared to this 10k course (6.2 miles). The best advice I can give if you're shooting an event, is move from location to location. You'll get a better variety of shots  so that all the shots don't look exactly the same. The participants will have better options when they decide to purchase the photos and may end up purchasing all of them because they're all different. I was at a race this past weekend taking photos for our club and noticed that the official course photographers were camped out in the exact location for at least 6 hours. They found a nice shady spot, set the camera up on their tripod and never moved. Meanwhile I moved a mile down the course and got shots with a better, cleaner background and although I was by myself, it looked like I had a team of photographers because the location were varied throughout the course. So if you want some great shots, find them, don't be lazy and sit in one spot for hours. The perfect shot won't come to you, you need to go it.

I'll post details from that shoot in a later blog post.

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.

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