Shooting a mountain bike race is hectic. A ton of fun, but hectic. Why hectic? First off, they are generally somewhere remote, like in the woods, on the side of a mountain (duh), and as such, require you, the photographer, to get up early, pack your gear (the night before would be a good tip), hop in whatever means of transportation you have access to, get to the venue, walk the course to see where to get the best shots are, shoot the race running from awesome spot to awesome spot and hope you got a few keepers.
When I go out to shoot a mountain bike race, I like to try and scope out at least 2, maybe 3 good vantage points to shoot from. This is why walking the course before hand is super important and will help cut down on the amount of walking around, thereby missing shots, you have to do.
Take these shots I took while covering the 2022 B.C. Provincial Mountain Bike Championships in Abbotsford, B.C. on the May long weekend. I walked the course, found a few good spots (and one that a lot of people were shooting from that I didn't really care for), and varied my shot list, capturing images from these spots at different times of the day, as the different classes of racers did their laps. Walking the course and scoping out a few good spots to shoot from will save you time and energy and allow you to get as many good shots as possible in the limited time you have during the race(s).
The first spot I shot from was from slightly above the apex of a high speed corner on a decent somewhere in the middle of the overall course. This spot got me quite a few really good photos due to being up slightly above the racers and showing the flow of the course lines. For a few of them, I slowed my shutter speed down and managed to get a few "panning" style shots. Panning shots in bike racing are the "Holy Grail" shots, IMHO, as they show the speed at which the racer are going and can really add to the "value" of the shot.
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships1/125 sec. f/2.8 70 mm
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships1/200 sec. f/2.8 70 mm
From here I moved up the path to shoot this same corner from a different angle and little further away. I wanted take advantage of the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 that I had brought with me to create some shallow depth of field looks by shooting through the foliage and framing the racers with the lush greenery. Here a few examples of what I'm talking about:
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships1/800 sec. f/2.8 115 mm
2022 BC Provincial Mountain bike Championships1/640 sec. f/2.8 88 mm
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships 1/800 sec. f/2.8 108 mm
And from there I went up a little higher to capture this corner when the sun was a little higher in the sky and lit it up just perfectly.
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships 1/100 sec. f/7.1 70 mm
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships1/125 sec. f/5 70 mm
2022 BC Provincial Mountain Bike Championships1/60 sec. f/6.3 70 mm
Keep in mind that I shoot mostly (99% of the time) in Aperture Priority and adjust my ISO depending on the lighting conditions. Taking this full day of shooting, from morning to late afternoon, my ISO fluctuated between 100 and 1600. Quite a range.
S there you have it, a little insight into a day of shooting a mountain bike race and some tips and pointers on what to expect and how to get the most out of your day.
Big thanks to Cycling BC, Glenridge Acres and Norco Bicycles for putting on this awesome event!
Now get out there and shoot!
I was washing dishes the other day, thinking up ideas for a blog post and since I've been shooting at a lot of the local Cyclocross bike race events here in the Vancouver area, I thought I'd touch on, and do a post about shooting video while you're out shooting photos at sporting events.
Now, yes, shooting video is different than shooting photos, as the settings are different, the aspect ratio is different, the frame rates can all be varied, etc, so it's a bit of a thing to get your head around, but adding video footage to your repertoire can do a couple of things. It can add value to your offerings, especially when it comes to promoting your products and services on social media platforms, video streaming platforms and the like. It seems like people like seeing moving pictures (video) over stills on Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook these days, so it only make sense to shoot video, if only for using it to promote your stuff. Another benefit to shooting video at sporting events is for commercial purposes as well, like selling it on stock video websites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and Pond5. I upload SOME of my video to Shutterstock, and not all of it, because they don't pay as much as they used to for video footage. Pond5 is my go to and most lucrative stock video outlet when it comes to generating revenue from my video footage.
Now, here's the kicker, if you're going to upload your stuff to the stock footage sites, you HAVE to upload it as Editorial footage. If you don't upload it as editorial, it will get rejected because you don't have releases for the people you are capturing on your video. Editorial still sells, but you just have to keep a few things in mind when shooting the video, like what you're capturing, who you're capturing, the mood, angles, commercial value, etc. I've touched on this in a previous blog post, but it bears repeating here: shoot things that have editorial commercial value. Example: if there are older people competing in the sporting event, capture them. News outlets, blogs, lifestyle sites, LOVE seeing older people still partaking in sport, and there is great commercial value in that.
Take this clip for example. This is a clip from a cyclocross bike race here in the Vancouver area, that features a group of older men running and riding over the set of barriers at the race. I shot this with my GoPro camera at 120fps and slowed it down to 24fps using my editing program of choice: Davinci Resolve. Not only is a great looking clip, shot from down low, with a wide angle lens, but it also has editorial commercial value in the fact that it features the older men's category of the race.
You could also use a shorter version, or snippet, from a clip like this to use to promote your work you've uploaded to the stock footage websites, or Youtube, and post that snippet to Twitter, Instagram, etc. Hell, even if you don't shoot video to use as commercial product, you could alwys shoot little clips like this to use as promo clips for your still photography work. The benefits to shooting video footage at sporting events far outways the reasons not to. Hell, even if you don't want to use your still camera (all of which shoot FANTASTIC video these days), you could just use your phone to shoot little clips to upload to the Socials. I do that WHILE I'M AT the event, just keeping my followers in the loop as to where I'm at and what I'm shooting. It always gives them a little taste of what to look forward to in the coming days with regards to what I'm shooting.
So there you have it. If you're out a sporting event, snapping photos, make sure to take the time to shoot some video while you're at it. People love video, it's taking over the social media formats, and can really add value to your portfolios.
Now get out there and shoot!
So I went out the other day to one of my favorite Urban Nature spots to shoot some nature related B-Roll type footage and photos for my various Stock Footage and Photo portfolios, and, since I was there in the late stages of the afternoon, the light was waning enough for me to make use of my 3 stop ND Filter and shoot some long exposure images of the little creek that flows through the forest.
After looking through my photos and doing some edits, I figured I would make a blog post about How I Shot these images and go over the details of how I achieved these results and how you too could get these results. It's pretty simple after all, all you need is a camera, a 3 stop ND Filter, a tripod, and a creek. Now, in case you're wondering what a "3 Stop ND Filter" is, it's a filter that essentially makes your camera think it's 3 stops darker than it is. For example, if you set your F-stop to f22, putting a 3 Stop ND Filter on stops it down another 3 stops to f25. There are Variable ND Filters that can stop your camera down further, like 8 stops, which is great if you're trying to shoot long exposure stuff during the bright sunlight, but for this purpose, and for where I was shooting (in the woods where it was already darker than out in the bright sunlight), a 3 stop ND Filter was all I needed. Plus, Variable ND filters are around $100 and up, depending on filter thread size, and 3 Stop ND Filters can be had for around $20. If you're just getting into long exposure daytime photography, start with a 3 Stop, hone your skill, and if it's something you want to take further, get a Variable later on.
Ok, on to the photos. After finding a cool spot and shooting some video footage, I was kinda digging the location and the flow of the creek that I was shooting, so I popped on the ND filter, and did some test shots to dial in the settings. I'm shooting with a Pentax K-3 Mark III, and a Sigma 70-300mm. After a few tests, I settled on the following settings to achieve this result:
150mm (230mm in 35mm equivalent)
2.5 Second Exposure
f5.6 (add 3 stops for the filter, so like f11?)
And here's another one shot at the same location, but zoomed out a bit to 93mm (142mm in 35mm equivalent) to get a little more creek in the shot. The settings for this one are as follows:
1.6 Second Exposure
f4 (add 3 stops)
And here's another one that was a bit more challenging since I didn't have my Variable ND Filter with me. Challenging in that it was still pretty light out even though the sun was setting in early evening down by the river, but I waited a bit and managed to squeeze out a few shots before the sun completely set. It would have been advantageous to use a Variable ND Filter for these conditions, but this is a good example of how you can make a 3 Stop ND Filter work if that's all you have in your camera bag. Just gotta wait a little longer for the light to diminish and you'll be good to go. For this one, I wanted get the river as "glassy" as I could so a longer exposure of 30 seconds was needed. Perfect effect against the wood and concrete pilings in the river. The settings for this one were:
50mm (77mm in 35mm equivalent)
30 Second Exposure
f16 (add 3 stops)
This last one was shot at a different location; Bridal Veil Falls in the Fraser Valley region of B.C. Normally, the Falls are raging with a torrent of water flowing over them, and this little waterfall off to the side is usually MUCH more dramatic, with a lot more water flowing over it, but in late summer, it was just a cute little flow coming over the logs, and I thought it looked cool, so I set up and snapped off a few frames to see what it looked like. Came out pretty decent if you ask me, and I was lucky to get it, seeing that there were A TON of tourists milling about and almost standing in front of my camera while I was shooting. ;) The settings for this shot are as follows:
75mm (115mm in 35mm equivalent)
2 Second Exposure
f11 (add 3 stops)
So there you have it. A few examples of how using a 3 Stop ND Filter can help you get those cool long exposure photos showing flowing water as smooth and glassy. And as you can see, there really isn't a "one size fits all" approach to the settings you need to achieve these results. Some photos have a 30 second exposure time, some are 2 seconds, some are 1.6 seconds, etc. Some are f4, some are f11, f16, etc. You'll need to get to your location, set up, do some tests, and dial in the settings you need to achieve the results you're after, really taking the time of day, the amount of light there is, and the lens you're using to get the results you're looking for. Now get out there and shoot!
You know those cool photos you see that show a sequence of action shots all stitched together? Those are pretty cool huh? In this Blog entry, I'll go over one of my shots that show this sort of action and explain how I Shot it, and how I achieved the finished result.
Ok, so here's the shot I'm referring to to:
Skate StyleIt's always cool to walk into a skate shop and see original skateboarding artwork capturing the essence of what the shop is all about on the walls. This 3:2 ratio photo captures that essence and is suitable for printing up to 36in x 24in for your space.
This one was pretty simple, and pretty easy to do. Actually, this sort of photo is pretty easy to do come to think of it. You can do this sort of photo with pretty much any camera that shoots in "burst" mode. Hell, even a decent smart phone can shoot in burst mode. Now, I shot this with a DSLR that shoots a pretty high frame rate, so I had a good amount of photos to use for the final image. You will need Photoshop and will know how to use layer masks to cut out the parts of the images that you want to place on top of the main, base image.
Once you have all your shots, you'll need to import them in Photoshop and select one of the images as the "main" image, meaning that the main image will be the one that is the base layer that you will then place the other sequence images on to. Here's the main base layer image before I added the other sequence image onto it:
And from here, you add the other sequence images on top of the main image. This image shows the one of the action sequence images before and after I added a layer mask and masked out the skater from the rest of the image.
And from there, you just add another sequence image, add a layer mask, and mask out the skater from the background. Here's the next image I added to this image sequence.
And from there, you have your finished image. Now, I masked out and Content Aware Filled out the background people and stuff just to clean up the image a bit, but if your image doesn't need it, no worries, work with what you have.
So there you have it, that's how I shot this image...or images...and put them all together to achieve this result.
Yep, the title says it all...almost. Here's what it SHOULD say: How To Make Money With Your Sports Photography...*As a Hobbyist. Y'know, side hustle sort of cash.
I was gonna write out a big long Blog going over this topic, but I did a YouTube VLOG instead. Much easier to follow along, and worth your while to watch it, I might add. :)