Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My first time ever shooting biathlon (and the photo finish)!

The other night, after shooting an afternoon hockey game, I made my way up the mountain to the Biathlon venue. I had never photographed this sport and the venue is connected with the Cross Country and Ski Jumping venues which makes it nice and easy to navigate.

I arrived at the venue about 30 minutes before the start of the race which gave me a little time to scout out the venue. For instance, I was wondering how photographers were supposed to get from stadium side, crossing the course, to where the biathletes would shoot their guns. It turns out that there is a tunnel for us to use. I checked all that out and then went back to the other side.

There was a good crowd that evening.

I walked the area to determine good shooting locations for the start of the race. I found a place near the stands, and was about to change from my Canon 24-70mm lens to my Canon 100-400mm lens when these guys walked in with their cow bells ringing. It cracked me up, so I ran up and started photographing them.

 They guys from Slovenia were hilarious.

I went back to the my starting point spot and the did manage to mount the Canon 100-400mm lens on my Canon 1D X MK II in time for the start of the race.

I picked a spot where I could shoot the starting point and turn and catch their first climb.

I then moved quickly to the far side of the venue to catch the athletes coming back down the hill. I focused on the leaders at the bottom of the image waited for the whole group to come into the frame. I wanted the arc of skiers to take your eye through the shot.

As one of the skiers went by me, I quickly rolled the shutter speed to 1/80 sec and panned with him. Then I rolled right back to 1/640 sec to capture the rest of the race.

Just like the downhill shot, I waited for one group to be on the top of this hill, and a second group curving through the bottom hill to fill the frame. So much better than a bare hillside.

I photographed them skiing towards their second shooting rotation, and then made my way for the tunnel so that I could get photos of them in their third rotation at the shooting range.

Here are the athletes coming towards the shooting range.

I photographed the leaders of the biathlon since they were only 20 feet from where I was standing. This allowed me to zoom in and wait for them to fire. I bursted out many frames with the Canon 1D X MK II to get photos of the shells being ejected from the guns.

Here is a tighter crop of the above shot.

I saw this group of biathletes and loved the synergy of them and the markers. The combination of colors also really worked.

After shooting the fourth and last time shooting, I ran back through the tunnel to get into position for the finish. Martin Fourcade (France) and Simon Schempp (Germany) where coming in neck-and-neck.

Look how close they are!

And as they approached the finish line, they both tried their best to get their foot over the line first.

It was a photo finish! As you can tell from my photo, the Frenchman's foot did cross the line first, but it was VERY close!

Both skiers collapsed on the ground and then waited to see who won.

Fourcade was overcome with emotion as they announced that he was the winner. It was a very exciting biathlon, especially for my first one! And I really enjoyed photographing this event and hope to do it again in Beijing in 2022.

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Steve Bauer said...

Beautiful series, as usual. Your "behind the scenes" descriptions make it memorable. Thanks again.

Steve Bauer said...

Beautiful series, as usual. Your "behind the scenes" descriptions make it memorable. Thanks again.

Jennifer Cusack said...

So happy you were able to photograph a new sport , with the crazy schedule you have don’t know how you find time to do anything extra or for you , so it was a happy read that you made it to the biathlon race . As photographers it always exciting to shoot something new or a new way no matter how long you have been doing it . Still so exciting and surreal you at not only at the Olympics but a fabulous “ green sleeve “ Olympic photographer . So great how exciting hockey is going , that has to be awesome, wishing both teams great luck as they play great and get closer to their goal . Thank you for all your blogs and photo posts , you selflessly take valuable time to give us an opportunity to see and feel a part of the excitement.

Jenn C