2nd Annual Spirit of Triathlon Photo Contest

In January 2013, we started to the Spirit of Triathlon Photo Contest.  The goals were fairly simple with the thousands of triathletes racing every weekend and the hundreds of thousands of photos that have been shot; we hoped this would be an opportunity to show off the amazing efforts and spirit of the all of the athletes involved in our great sport, as well as the photo efforts of the athletes many supporters.

It’s time for the 2nd Annual Spirit of Triathlon Photo Contest

As the submissions arrived and I started reviewing images in my blog, an additional goal presented itself. Using real world examples, I could offer comments and critique on how to enhance your race images with some relatively simple solutions and provide you added value to your photo and race experience. While the athletes you are supporting are out for hours at a time, you can work on your photo skills at the races. Not only telling their story, but doing a great job of preserving the memories of their amazing accomplishments.

ENTER HERE and after you enter, tweet your photo with the tag #SpiritOfTri

Athletes, supporters and bloggers, here is your chance to show off your favorite triathlon photos, have it published and win a great prize! Images may include Professional, Age Group, Youth and Challenged Triathletes, Action Photos, Venues, Human Interest and other images that exemplify the Spirit of Triathlon.

The numbers of triathletes and events continue to grow at an amazing rate with no let up in sight for 2014. In addition, we are approaching a billion photos posted each day on Social Media – it is time for some great shots and their photographers to get the attention they deserve.

Take a look at the top images from 2013 featured on Triathlete.com

Our top three images will again receive prizes provided by my friends at ThinkTank Photo.  This year I am adding a Grand Prize as well!

As every triathlete knows a great coach can make a huge difference in your performance, it is true of sports photography as well. The Grand Prize winner will have the opportunity to join me at one of my 2014 events. Although I cannot guaranty that you will be able to be credentialed for the event, I will work with you to plan your shots, angles and locations. In addition, I will do a pre-race review and critique of 20 of your images via email & Skype, so you can start working on optimizing your shots and practice prior to our event. I am shooting all across the US so hopefully, my schedule will be close to you so you can join in the fun!

The contest will begin today, January 9, 2014 and conclude on March 9, 2014.

In addition, each week I will review three photos in a blog offering comments that I hope will benefit all triathlon photographers.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @CompImagePhoto and check out the Competitive Image Website.

Just to get you started here are a couple of my 2013 Kona shots that show the Spirit of Triathlon.

Age Group Athletes enter the water at Dig Me Beach - Kona 2013
Age Group Athletes enter the water at Dig Me Beach – Kona 2013
Frekerik Van Lierde and his father at the finish  Kona 2013
Frekerik Van Lierde and his father at the finish Kona 2013
Minda Dentler becomes the first female Wheel Chair finisher - Kona 2013
Minda Dentler becomes the first female Wheel Chair finisher – Kona 2013

ENTER HERE and after you enter, tweet your photo with the tag #SpiritOfTri

In the spirit of triathlon, a portion of the proceeds from each entry will be contributed to the Blazeman Foundation for ALS and to World Bicycle Relief. In 2013  30% of the proceeds from entry fees was contributed!

Every event that I shoot I rely on my ThinkTank gear to have my critical equipment close at hand.  In addition to having your image published in an online Triathlete.com gallery, the first place photographer will receive a Retrospective 30 camera bag – great stuff, trust me, you will love it.

Retro3
ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 30

Second Prize is a CityWalker 10 and third prize is a Retrospective Lap Top Bag.

Just a personal note about the ThinkTank Retrospective series. No matter what event I travel to and how much gear I take with me, I always, ALWAYS bring my Retrospective bag with me. It is the PERFECT bag for walking around shooting. Easy access and unobtrusive! You will love it.

We are currently gathering up a list of other Tri related prizes to be included hoping that each of the top 20 images will receive something.  More details will be available on a future blog post, but we currently have commitments from Training Peaks, Profile Designs, K-Swiss, TriTats and Castelli.

A Couple Common Questions

Last year there were a number of questions about the contest that popped up on social media and I am sure there will be more this year. In the meantime, I will try to respond to a few of the questions.

Who owns the images after they are submitted? You do! Although the top 20 images will be presented in a gallery on Triathlete.com and perhaps in a print issue, you will still own the images and all of the rights to the use of the images beyond the single use presentation on the web and in print will be controlled by you.

Why is there an entry fee? There are two primary reasons for having an entry fee. The first is simple, I use outside software to administer the contest and process the entries, and there is a real cost for each entry submitted. Second and more importantly, reviewing, evaluating and blogging about the entries takes a substantial amount of my time. Although I enjoy this process, this contest is not about having thousands of cell phone images or post race selfies to look at. I am serious about the contest, and I hope you will be too.

Here is the fine print so to speak! The Contest Rules!

SPONSOR

The sole contest sponsor is Competitive Image, Inc.  PO Box 19174, Minneapolis, MN 55419 (“Sponsor” or “CI”).

Duration of Contest

The 2014 Competitive Image Spirit of Triathlon Photo Contest begins January 9, 2014 at 9:00:00 a.m. US Central Time and ends March 9, 2014, 11:59:00 p.m. US Central Time (the “Contest”). Information on how to enter and prizes form part of these official rules (“Official Rules”). By submitting an entry, each entrant agrees to the Official Rules and warrants that his or her entry complies with all requirements set out in the Official Rules. This is a skill-based contest and chance plays no part in the determination of winners.

WHO MAY ENTER

Contest is open only to all amateur sports photographers who are 18 or older at the time of entry and is void where prohibited. For these purposes we will define Amateur as those individual who do not make a significant portion of their income from photography. This will allow individuals who maintain blogs and have periodic sales to participate.

HOW TO ENTER

Each Entry consists of an entry form, a single image, and an entry fee. The entry fee is US $12 for the first image entered and US $7 for each image thereafter. To enter, complete an ENTRY FORM with the required information, including your name, address, telephone number, email address, and photo caption; and submit along with your photograph and fee in accordance with the instructions that follow.

Submitted images may include Professional, Age Group, Youth and Challenged Triathletes, Action Photos, Venues, Human Interest and other images that exemplify the Spirit of Triathlon.

Photographs must be in digital format. Only online entries will be eligible. No print or film submissions will be accepted for entry into this Contest. The photograph need not be taken with a digital camera; scans of negatives, transparencies, or photographic prints are acceptable. All digital files must be 2 megabytes or smaller, must be in JPG, TIF, PNG or BMP format, and must be sized to 1,280 pixels on the longest side.

Photographs must have been taken within three (3) years before the date of entry and may not previously published.

The photograph, in its entirety, must be a single work of original material taken by the Contest entrant. By entering the Contest, entrant represents, acknowledges, and warrants that the submitted photograph is an original work created solely by the entrant, that the photograph does not infringe on the copyrights, trademarks, moral rights, rights of privacy/publicity or intellectual property rights of any person or entity, and that no other party has any right, title, claim, or interest in the photograph.

The photograph must not, in the sole and unfettered discretion of the Sponsor, contain obscene, provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate content.

The caption must be complete and accurate, sufficient to convey the circumstances in which the photograph was taken. Disguising or misrepresenting the origin of your content is cause for disqualification.

Watermarks are not acceptable. If Sponsor does not receive a non-watermarked version of the entry within ten (10) days following its request, the entry will be disqualified.

RELEASES

If the photograph contains any material or elements that are not owned by the entrant and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the photograph, the entrant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the photograph in the manner set forth in these Official Rules without additional compensation.

The top 20 images will be published in an online gallery on Triathlete.com.  The entrant provides Competitive Image, Inc and Triathlete Magazine / Competitor Group the royalty-free right to publish the images on line and in print for a single use of each.

CONTEST PRIZES

Grand Prize –  On location shooting and coaching with Paul Phillips, award winning triathlon photographer and Olympic Photographer, London 2012, Sochi 2014.

The First Place winner will receive a ThinkTank Retrospective 30. Second Place winner will receive a ThinkTank CityWalker 10. Third Place winner will receive a ThinkTank Photo will receive a Think Tank Retrospective Laptop Bag. All prized are provided courtesy of ThinkTank Photo.

Two Cover Shots in 00:00:11

Everyone who knows me or has read my blog understands that I truly believe that every shot is a lucky shot.

No matter how great your equipment, how spectacular the venue or how good you think you are; if there is no action there is no shot. But to paraphrase Luis Pasteur: ‘Luck favors the prepared mind.’

Sometimes with a lot of planning and some help you do get lucky, really lucky.

In preparing to shoot the ITU World Triathlon Series Race in San Diego in April, my driver and partner in crime for the weekend, Bruno and I checked out locations, backgrounds, access and the time it would take us to get from one location to another.

During the Men’s race on Saturday we knew we would miss the leaders at our first stop, they were just going too fast to make it there in time, we headed right to our second location. When the men had passed us, we move to our other spot, waited about 1 minute for their arrival, shot for less than 3 minutes and the went back to our other location. Arriving only 2 minutes later, we had already missed Ali Brownlee who was running away from the field.

I spent the next two minutes shooting and headed to the finish. When I arrived at the finish the other photographers were already on the photo stand. I was the only one who had gotten out on the run course to try to get some a few shots, which I  could have never done without the help and skill of my driver/partner Bruno.

As luck would have it, not only did I get some cool shots, I got two cover shots, both in the span of 11 seconds!

220 Triathlon - July 2013 Issue #287 published May 28, 2013
220 Triathlon Magazine – July 2013 – Issue #287 published May 28, 2013 – Olympic Gold Medalist Alistair Brownlee running away from the field.
Triathlon Plus Magazine – July 2013 – Issue #55, published May 28, 2013 – South African Richard Murry running into second place.

Just for good measure, here is one more that was also published on May 28, 2013!

Triathlon Plus Magazine - Kona Supplement - Published May 28, 2-13. Pete Jacobs on the way back from Hawi and on his way to becoming the 2012 Ironman World Champion.
Triathlon Plus Magazine – Kona Supplement – Published May 28, 2-13. Pete Jacobs on the way back from Hawi and on his way to becoming the 2012 Ironman World Champion.

Keeping Your Priorities Straight

One constant question about shooting sports is Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Automatic, or What?

I don’t know that I can provide the definitive answer but I can give you a framework about how to think about your shooting.

I will go on record that Automatic is NOT the right option. As the photographer, you want to make your own creative decisions. Using the Automatic / Programmed mode on any camera means that you are turning over creative control to some engineer sitting in a cubicle in Asia. Ok, it is likely a really smart engineer, but nonetheless, whoever set up the parameters of what automatic means in your camera does not have the benefit of seeing what you are seeing, nor what you are thinking just as you get ready to press the shutter!

As I tell my students, friends never let friends shoot on automatic!

In my last post, How To Take A Great Triathlon Photo V2013, I talked about controlling the action. In today’s post I will carry that thought quite a bit further.

Don’t assume that just because I am a professional photographer that I always shoot on Manual, making an individual decision for every shot that I take. I do use manual mode on occasion but much more often I am shooting in either Shutter or Aperture Priority mode.

Choosing between Shutter and Aperture Priority is really situational for me.  Since the majority of shots that I am making are in a sporting environment, my go to setting is Shutter Priority. It is simple – in sports, things move and I want to control how the action is conveyed. Do I want a sharp, crisp, freeze the moment image with a high shutter speed or do I want something more fluid with a lower shutter speed?

Although I do have a technical background, I try not to let the numbers drive my decision-making; thinking in terms of the visual outcome enhances my ability to capture what I am seeing inside my head (although some say there is not much up there to see).

If I am not in a race mode, I often switch to Aperture priority, this may be at a pre race meeting or expo, but I set the shutter speed to what ever I know I can easily hand hold (depending on the lens).  In addition, when I am out touring, I typically shoot aperture priority.  As a side note, when I am out touring I typically use my 5D Mark III, since it is just a bit less conspicuous than my 1Dx.  Also to discipline myself, my general rule is 1 camera, 1 lens and 1 shot at a time and every shot with intention.

Even when I use Shutter Priority, it does not mean that I ignore the aperture. It means the shutter speed is my primary consideration. From there and to the extent that I want to change the depth of field, I will increase or decrease the ISO.

I am sure there will be a few people reading this who are looking for numbers, so I will give you a few numbers!

Let’s say it is one of my typical days shooting and I am sitting on the back of a moto.

Paul’s Office – thanks to Matt Moses for the snap.

I will have two camera bodies, one with my 70-200 f2.8 and the other with either the 24-70 f2.8 or a 16-35 f2.8. I also have my 300mm f2.8 over my shoulder.

If I am at a Triathlon and shooting from in front (about 20 meters) of the cyclists or runners and using my 70-200 at 200mm with an aperture of f5.6, I know that my total depth of field is going to be about 3 meters, which is wide enough to get the entire bike and rider in focus and narrow enough to have it drop off pretty fast to isolate the rider. On the other hand, if I am still at the short end of that lens at 70mm, still at f5.6, I will have a total depth of field of about 40 meters. Keeping the aperture at f5.6 and grabbing the other camera with a shorter lens, if the focal length is about 50mm or less, pretty much everything is going to be in focus.

I use f5.6 as sort of a target aperture, again using the 20 meter example and my 200mm lens, my depth of field at f4.5 is about 2.5 meters and at f6.3 is about 3.5 meters.  This is a nice range to work in and gives flexibility as the light changes.

As you can see, shooting from 20 meters away, you really have a great deal of flexibility in your aperture, just keep an eye on your ISO to make sure it doesn’t drop too low and drop your aperture, unless of course you want it to.

As you get closer to the subject and your depth of field narrows, you need to pay more attention to the aperture, but still for me shutter speed is my driving consideration.

Similarly when using a longer lens such as a 300 or a 400mm. As you increase the focal length of the lens, the physics dictate that the depth of field, at any given f-stop will be narrower compared to shorter lens.

I have been lucky, many of my shots have been used as covers both domestically and Internationally. These are typically fairly tight shots with the athlete visually isolated – this translates to using a longer lens and low aperture.

OK, I have talked enough about the concepts, let’s look at a few photos.

Here is Melissa Hauschildt on her way to winning the 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. Caroline Steffen is just slightly out of the depth of field but still in the frame. I was shooting from the moto, 200 mm lens at 1/1600 and f5.6.

2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon
Melissa Hauschildt at the 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon

With the spectacular background of Snow Canyon at the Ironman St. George 70.3, it would be a shame to have too narrow of a depth of field, and yet you don’t want to have it look like a bunch of cyclists rode through your landscape photo. This image is a 115 mm, 1/2000 and f6.3.

Luke McKenzie leading the chase group at the Ironman St. George 70.3.
Luke McKenzie leading the chase group at the Ironman St. George 70.3.

Now off of the moto and laying on the side of the road with my 16 to 35, this shot of Sebastian Kienle, Ironman 70.3 World Champion was shot at 25 mm 1/1600 and f7.1 which gives almost an infinite depth of field.

Sebastian Kienle at the Ironman  St. George 70.3
Sebastian Kienle at the Ironman St. George 70.3

Off of the moto again on with some bigger glass, here is Tim O’Donnell at the 2013 Ironman San Juan 70.3.  Tim was the 2 time defending champ coming back for a 3-peat, when he had a crash on the bike. Here he is in Old San Juan, shot with my 300 mm, at 1/800 and f13.  With the beauty of Old San Juan, I wanted to isolate Tim, but also give some context!

2 time defending champ Timothy O'Donnell, USA, at the 2013 Ironman San Juan 70.3  March 17, 2013
2 time defending champ Timothy O’Donnell, USA, at the 2013 Ironman San Juan 70.3

Due to the nature of an ITU event, I really don’t shoot that much from the moto, but it is critical to use it to get from to the best locations. With the help and skill of my moto pilot Bruno, we had the San Diego course planned out. Here is Olympic Gold Medalist Alistair Brownlee in his first ITU event of 2013 running away from the field.

Not much of a background here so I shot it at f2.8.  Since I am off the moto, I knew I would get a really clean shot at 1/800 and I just lowered my ISO to 320 so I could get the aperture wide open.

Olympic Gold Medalist Alistair Brownlee running away from the field at the 2013 World Triathlon Series race in San Diego.
Olympic Gold Medalist Alistair Brownlee running away from the field at the 2013 World Triathlon Series race in San Diego.

Running hard to catch Brownlee was South African Richard Murray, just 11 seconds later. No time to check the back of the camera or change the settings – just focus on getting the shot!

Richard Murray on the run at the ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego
Richard Murray on the run at the ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego

More soon!

Cheers,

Paul

Course Familiarization

Even though the London course has been set for the last couple of years and many of the women have raced here, some even had their qualifying race one this course, there have been many miles in between.

From 6:30 to 7:15 AM, they girls had a chance to get out and ride a couple of easy laps of the complete course.  Some rode alone, some with teammates and many with coaches.

Here are a few snaps from their preview ride.

I would be worried if Sarah Groff were not in her typical playful mood.

Sarah and Laura Bennett settled in for a couple of easy laps.

Gwen Jorgensen rode with USAT High Performance Leader Jono Hall.

Paula Findlay was out early.

Reigning World Champion and local Gold Medal favorite knows the course but takes advantage of the available time.

After their ride the girls had a chance to swim the course.

Just beyond the first turn of the one lap swim, the Olympic Rings glow in the early morning sun.

Jono meets Gwen at the swim exit. Laura and Sarah opted out of the swim this morning.

Not only were the girls practicing on the course but so were the operators of the remote TV camera which runs on cable stretched over kilometer moves over the swim course and transition area.

I couldn’t help but stop and drool over the row of BMW F650 GS motos, which is my ideal to shoot from. Unfortunately, I will not get one for the races.

More soon.

Cheers from London.

It is Very Quiet in Hyde Park

Although the course familiarization is not until Thursday morning, I headed to the race venue to look around. I have shot on this course the last two years, but from the previews I knew that everything at the start finish area would be bigger.

I walked in through the media room, which was also for the Open Water Swimming events, but it is at least four times the size of the room we had for the ITU events the last two years.

Here is the view upon walking out into the grandstand.

Great finish line grandstand seating 3,000.

The blue carpet is still covered, but the finish line is ready to go, with photo stands for 96 photographers!

Part of my reason to be on site today was identify the spots I want to shoot on race day. This one looks good to me. Unfortunately, I subsequently learned this spot is not available, and I had to submit a written request for the swim exit positions on the sides.

The Olympic greets the athletes as they exit the water.

Running into T-1 they will see 3,000 screaming fans!

The bike racks are in place, just waiting for placards and bikes.

Even from across the Serpentine, the magnitude of the stadium area can be seen.


Although the race is centered within Hyde Park, on the seven lap bike course, the racers exit the park, go through Wellington Arch and the around the circle in front of Buckingham Palace, and back through the Arch and into the park.

 

My New Favorite Cover!

 

Although there are five smiling faces, this was shot at 7:00 in the morning, the day after the San Diego ITU race.

On Wednesday, July 25th we all start our adventure to London. I will be with these amazing athletes, not only to shoot the races on August 4th and 7th, but to show you  some of the behind the scenes environment as well.

 

I will be trying to do a blog post with at least a photo of two!

Cheers!
Paul

How To Take A Great Triathlon Photo – Part II

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# 4Pick 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!