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09-10-2008, 07:08 PM   #1
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Shooting pro bicycling road race stages

Going to a few of the Tour Of Missouri stages this week. Will take the camera equipment ( K10D, K20D, many lenses) for serious shooting. Did this last year and the shots were okay but most didn't knock me out.

The pro bikers are moving at incredible speed. You have just a few seconds to shoot the whole peloton. The final stage will have them do 6 or 7 laps for the win. This is still very little "shooting time". Anyone have any tips on shooting this kind of stuff? Don't get much chance to practice.

thanks
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09-10-2008, 07:46 PM   #2
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It would be worth going to some amatuer cycling events to get some practice in if you have the time.
09-11-2008, 08:14 AM   #3
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A handful of tips...

1. Walk the whole course in advance and look for good safe shooting positions. Try to chose corners where the rider's faces will be lit (not always possible of course).

2. for easy panning, position yourself on the INSIDE of corners if possible. This gives you better contact and keeps them in your zone of focus as they move past.


3. Kneel or lay down as close as possible to the INSIDE of a "relatively" safe curve (aka one with something the riders don't want to hit like a light pole). Remember that the riders might actually be leaning over the corner so be VERY CAREFUL not to get too close. Shoot with a fast shutter speed as they enter the frame. Use a wide angle lens for this. Try to hide behind something so that you do not distract or scare the riders (no guarantee of that though as you can see from this girl's expression).


4. Stand well back on the OUTSIDE of a curve at the end of a long straightaway and use a telephoto to capture the peleton as the leaders enter the curve.


5. If there is a particularly nasty corner, spend some time there. This may sound ghoolish but if there is going to be a wreck anyway, it doesnt hurt to get it on film.


Other examples on my PN page at Gallery Folder - photo.net. Now, I don't claim any of these are particularly great, but I'm fairly happy with my results. Still have a lot of room to improve and the only way to do that is get out and shoot.

Good luck with your shoot. Btw, these tips also apply to motorcycle racing except for getting so close...

Last edited by MRRiley; 09-11-2008 at 12:52 PM.
09-11-2008, 06:05 PM   #4
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First time posting here, but you can check out Graham Watson's site. He's big in the cycling world. He's a D3 shooter though if that matters to you or not. He has a part on his site where he provides tips to shooting cycling races.

:: GrahamWatson.com ::

I found when shooting a local race here in May that a borrowed DA* 50 - 135 would lock on focus best when the body was set to the center focus point. Also, try to barge in and use your body at the finishing line to try to get a picture of the finishing sprint if it's a flat stage and there's no chance for a breakaway. I did and was glad as there was not that many heads blocking the shot. I am a newbie at this, but I hope this helps.

09-11-2008, 06:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by azn_hotmale Quote
First time posting here, but you can check out Graham Watson's site. He's big in the cycling world. He's a D3 shooter though if that matters to you or not. He has a part on his site where he provides tips to shooting cycling races.

:: GrahamWatson.com ::

....
Yeah... Graham Watson is THE MAN!!!
09-12-2008, 03:00 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by MRRiley Quote
Yeah... Graham Watson is THE MAN!!!

Hey, so are you !!

I just been asked yesterday to do some publicity photos for a cycling team and had no idea where to start.. your tips are great - thanks !!
09-12-2008, 07:00 AM   #7
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The last shot Mike is must be the money shot ehh Mike?


cheers
09-12-2008, 07:39 AM   #8
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Thanks azn hotmale and MRRiley. Great tips. Have seen GW photos before but didn't remember the name. Beautiful photos. GW is the man.

MRRiley, thanks for the tips. Never even thought about inner vs outer curve placement etc. These tips will help a lot. You manage to get great composition at such a quick speed. Little time to think when those bikes are zooming at you. Those corner shots sure seem close to the riders! Wow! Thanks for all the work you did for this set of tips. You are the man!

This is only the second time for the Tour of Missouri. There aren't any other bike road races around to practice on. At least at the end stage we get 6 or 7 laps to practice on. The rain forcasts also worry me .

StephenG, Good luck with the photo shoot. Sad to see Barlow World South African pro team disband after Tour de France this year. Always enjoyed watching them race. Robbie Hunter is good.


THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE.
BARONDLA

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09-12-2008, 09:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by cupic Quote
The last shot Mike is must be the money shot ehh Mike?


cheers
The wreck shot did make it into the local paper... Didn't get any money out of it but I got a nice tear sheet.

Thanks for the compliments guys. Good luck with the shoot Barondla. Liable to be a wet ride, but then a nice weather sealed Pentax should be able to handle it. Might get some awesome shots and if it's wet they will be going slower.

Stage 7 Interactive Map | Tour of Missouri 2008 | Missouri-Tour of Missouri 2008

btw, I just looked at the map for that last stage. I'd scratch the "walking the whole course" idea. Thats possible for a 1-2 mile circuit but not for one almost 14 miles long. LOL Given that I'd concentrate on the part in or around Forest Park. The "straight-away" stuff is boring anyway. Just like MC racing the excitement is in the turns! So turns and hills are your friend. It's been a long time since I was in STL but as I recall that park has some nice terrain doesnt it? Would make for pleasing backgrounds too.

another thought... it might be worth checking out the Union & Lindell Blvds intersection overpass over Forest Park Pkwy. The route goes under this and you might be able to get some interesting "overhead" shots.

Last edited by MRRiley; 09-12-2008 at 11:17 AM.
09-12-2008, 12:29 PM   #10
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Great tips there Mike


something we can all grasp and use.

I am into Athletics, mainly track and field but these tips will help me on the road races like marathon and walking.


QuoteQuote:
btw, I just looked at the map for that last stage. I'd scratch the "walking the whole course" idea. Thats possible for a 1-2 mile circuit but not for one almost 14 miles long. LOL
If Barondla's wife is reading this maybe she can text message his cell phone and tell him to cancel that one





Thanks again


Neil
09-12-2008, 08:11 PM   #11
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Haven't left yet. Leaving Sat. morning to hit stage 6. Stay the night and then do stage 7.

Packed only whats necessary. Taking DS, K10/20D bodies. Taking 10-17, 16-45, 31, 77, DA55-300, 1.5 teleconverter. Leaving 100 & 200 macro at home (painful). Know they wouldn't be used at race, but may find other things to shoot. Decided to take LensBaby original for non race fun. Have 5 Dl-I50 batts. Plenty of memo cards (about 20g worth). Also leaving 540 flash at home. Domke F1 is pretty empty compared to normal. Also taking a few trash bags for equipment protection.

MRRiley must do a lot of this type of shooting. He thought of things I never even considered. Thanks for all the extra tips. Loved the bike images. Hope the riders don't crash in the bad weather (done that before - it hurts)! I am still deciding the choice of raw vs jpeg. Jpeg buffer is larger vs raw ( normal shooting mode for me). Tough choice.

thanks
wish me luck
barondla

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barondla

Last edited by barondla; 09-12-2008 at 08:18 PM.
09-12-2008, 10:19 PM   #12
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Fantastic tips and shots, MRRiley! Goes to show it's most important to know the sport that you're shooting.

I actually took a few shots at the Tour of California earlier this year, because my roommate's girlfriend was racing in the exhibition part. Here's a few examples from my Tour of California Flickr set.

All of these were shot with a 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3. Great flexibility given plenty of sunlight. I was envious of all the pro shooters and their long, fast lenses. ;-)


AF-C with selected upper left AF point didn't work fast enough here, as she whizzed by too quickly. In all subsequent shots I manually focused.


Panned shot, probably could have reduced my shutter speed even more to get more sense of motion. Also manually focused I believe.


Here I tried to get something compositionally interesting, with the long lines of the fence and crowd, the arch of the finish line, and the rider looking back to see his time.


Here I definitely had to MF. I was perched just around the corner, and the riders came by super fast. I just guessed the distance, and timed my shutter click as best I could. I literally had a hundredth of a second to react. I have some shots of the rider in focus, but I like this (accidentally focused) shot of the spectators watching the riders go by.

I was pretty happy with the shots I got, considering they were my first cycling shots and I had only been taking SLR pictures for about 3 months.
09-16-2008, 06:18 AM   #13
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Shot the last two stages of the race. It was tough. Stage 6 went to finish line to get pics since they didn't go around multiple times. Had never been to finish line of race like this. Wow, it was crowded. Hard to get clear shot. Pro had a cherry picker he was shooting from. Add that to my list of needed photo accessories! Got good shot of winner Cavendish crossing finish line. (yay, Team Columbia - US).

St. Louis stage was terrible to shoot. We drove there the night before and stayed in hotel. Weather forecasts were realy bad. Lots of rain, and wind from Hurricane Ike. Decided we would try going anyway - if they had the race. That morning all the power went off in the city we were staying in (near Arnold). Made getting ready tough. Plus, no idea if they were having race. It was raining like crazy.

Proceeded to race start. Interstate 55 was backed up for miles. Car moved about 20 ft in 30 min. Got off interstate and headed down town. Glad we had gps. Person driving had lived in St. Louis years ago.

Arriving downown, we saw people setting up the race. Weather was decent. Really wanted to shoot some where besides the start/finish point. Didn't happen. Photographed some of the riders warming up before the race. It was cool they were just slowly riding around. Easy to photograph.

At the start of race it began raining like crazy. We were under a bus stop for protection. Weather would change from nice, dry, warm to wet, cold, and very windy in a few min. Hard to get exposure correct, very hard to keep wind from blowing rain on front of lenses!

We ended up at the start because the course laps were shortened from approx 14 miles to 10. They took out a lot of curves because that part of the course was flooded! Glad we found that out before hand.

Race went well Christian VanDeVelde (Garmin - US team) won the over all race. What an event. Can't wait till next year. Will try to post a few pics later in the week.

thanks
barondla

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Last edited by barondla; 09-16-2008 at 06:30 AM.
09-16-2008, 08:29 AM   #14
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Sounds like quite a mess. Hope you got some good shots for your trouble.

Is this anything like what the starting line looked like?


Photo from http://www.cyclelicio.us/2005/07/underwater-bike-racing.html
09-16-2008, 11:16 PM   #15
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There was the Toronto Crit in May near where I live. It was dark and raining that day. My first time shooting action. I too will try to post when I have some time.
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