Sunday I covered the Small Texan Triathlon (STT from here on out) in Boerne, Texas as a solo shooter. There were about 300 competitors in the event. I enjoy the challenge of doing as much as possible by myself, my attention is held much better this way.
At events like these I definitely try to use my lights when I can to enhance the images, try to make the athletes feel like they are on the cover of Runners World or Triathle News. And using the lights can help.
So First up, location scouting. I arrived early enough to find the spots that I would be shooting at later. The actual finish line was no go for several reasons, mainly, the port-a-potties in the background and the angle of the sun. In talking to the race directors, Jim helped me find a place on the course where I could shoot both runners and bikers and have the sun lighting up the faces. This location helped a ton because it prevented me from having to run 1/2 mile to cover the finish at some point, where I would miss many competitors.
Second, Swim Out. I really enjoy shooting the swim out portion of Triathlons. Typically cool in the morning, water dripping off of bodies, and great expressions while energy is still high. I setup my flashes to provide rim lighting to the beautiful morning sunlight I was getting raking across the athletes. I wanted to bring up the shadows on the subject’s sunless side, and provide a good light outline against the darker water. My shots from this portion turned out better than last week. I experimented a little with running my shutter up to 1/400 and 1/500 even though I was strobing. Overall, very pleased with Swim Out.
Third, Bike/Run – Half mile walk from swim out to Bike In/Run In. Found a good corner turn with good light. Ran some test shots to try out lights in close, but the sun was in full force, so no go at any reasonable power setting. Need some AlienBees and a Vagabond so that I cover the bike portion with lights. 1/250s just doesn’t slow down 20 mph bikes very well. I went with straight sunlight, no modifications. Went in nice and tight for the last shot of every burst where I could, need to continue to do more of that in races. Once the bikers were through I headed to the finish area to get water, and to setup for the last of the Runners coming in.
Fourth, How do I shoot the finish? – Eh, my hunger maybe lead to some indecision. The finish chute just wasn’t a good spot for picture taking – cars, trees, portolets, and backlighting. For the racers the finish line was super, shady, next to food, cold water, bathrooms and shaded spectators. My position then shifted up about 200 yards to where the lighting was good and I could get a neutral background. This worked out mostly well, outside of the variable car traffic and athletes going back to their cars in the backgrounds.
All in all, I feel I provided really good coverage as a solo shooter, learned a few things and made some friends along the way. Good Sunday Shoot.
There is a video clip of the race posted where you can see me shooting the swim out (first 40 seconds or so)
Event photos are up/up soon at www.endurophoto.com