In my earlier post of How To Take A Great Triathlon Photo – Part I – I concentrated on Swim Start photos. Since the swim start is the only time when all of the athletes are together, it offers some truly unique shot opportunities.
As we move to the bike leg of the triathlon, the competitors are spread out and the major challenge becomes how do you get a photo without having it just look like another guy/girl) out riding is bike, albeit a very fit guy/girl, but still just another guy/girl out on their bike.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I have rules. As sort of a tease, at that time I only mentioned Rule #1 – You truly have to know your sport! Today we are going to jump ahead to Rule# 4 – Pick the background and let the action happen!
Although I most often have a motorcycle and a driver to work with, substantially all of the photos in this post are have been taken from a fixed position. Context and composition are critical.
In the gallery below you can see that most of these images are about the context and the location. From the lava fields at Kona (Michi Weiss shot by Bob Kupbens), to the Formula 1 Circuit in Abu Dhabi, Washington, DC and the cobbled streets of Lunby, Norway.
There are also a few head on shots that help to show the intensity of the athlete.
For each of these events, I toured the course in advance and made notes of several good locations in order to have options depending on how the race developed. Even with options, you still have to get lucky.
If you look closely at these images you will see they have been shot with a variety of lens from a 15mm fisheye to a 400 mm and from a variety of angles. In addition, while most are at a fairly high shutter speed, there is one panned shot at 1/100 sec.
In addition to scouting the course before the race, the best way to practice is to head out with your favorite triathlete or Tri Club on a training ride. Find a spot to meet them (with a great background) and practice some shots. I am sure if you brought fluids and snacks, you could get them to take a more than one pass by your selected background so you can try a few different things.
Keep in mind what is a great background in the morning, as the light changes, may be less great in the afternoon. Go out and shoot, remember the photons are free!