Saturday, October 1, 2011

First time photographing a triathlon

Last weekend was the "See Jane Run" Triathlon and my wife and daughter took on the challenge. They had to swim, bike and run. The only thing that I had to do was get up at 5am on a Saturday morning (ughh) and take the photos. I had never shot a triathlon before, so this was uncharted territory for me. 

This is a picture of my daughter, Ali and her best friend, Danielle, as they prepared for the race.

 My wife and daughter as they stepped into the starting area, to begin the swimming portion of the race.

This is my favorite "artistic picture" from the triathlon. (You can click on these images to see them bigger.) My wife, daughter, and Danielle are somewhere in this group of swimmers. I liked the group of swimmers as they passed in front of the lifeguard. I cropped this image to show less of the foreground water and trees, focusing more of the attention on the people.

One of the challenges of photographing a race like this, is that you only see the athletes when they are starting and finishing each segment of the race. This does not give you a lot of chance to photograph them. It is even tougher trying to find your subject amongst the large group of people. I was able to spot Ali as she came in and grabbed this one shot of her finishing the biking portion of the race.

I positioned myself just before the finish line to capture photos of everyone completing the run. Here is a picture of Ali, who came in strong!

Annette finishing the race and happy about that.

The girls showing their medals.

Annette, Ali, Danielle and AnnMarie (Danielle's mom) after they completed the race. Congratulations you guys!

For those of you looking to photograph a triathlon, here are some of the challenges that I faced that you might want to be aware of.

1. Since there are so many people, there are lots of people walking in front of you as you try to capture your images. Try to position yourself somewhere with a clean unobstructed view of the athletes.
2. Related to the first point, all those people can create a distracting background. Try to position yourself where you can photograph your subjects with a clean background, if possible.
3. Since these races usually start in the early morning and end in late morning, the light is not optimal. Think about the direction of sunlight when you position yourself for your shots.
4. Since things are happening all around you (some farther than others), it is a good thing to have a wide range zoom lens. I used the Canon 100-400mm which gave me lots of flexibility.
5. Try to get to sleep early the night before so that you, and your camera, can be focused in the morning. :)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Jeff,

I feel you. My wife and I live in Austin, TX where endurance sports are very popular. She got into triathlons about 2 years ago and started with a small distance, but continued training until she completed her first IronMan last May.

My job, like yours is getting up early in the morning, making sure she gets there on time and photographing the event.

the problem is that as they get better the distances get longer and so does the the event. It took my wife 14:59 hours (she would kill me if I said 15 hours) to finish the Ironman, plenty of time to practice your photography :-).