Tag Archives: race

Photographing 2018 Red Baron Half

I have been trying to volunteer at some of the races I photograph. Usually my volunteer duties keep me stationed at the race start line and then I can head out to photograph the race before it starts. For this edition of the Southern Tier Running Club Red Baron Half Marathon I volunteers to help with course set up. This entailed putting cones and signs along the entire 13.1 mile course. I really didn’t know how long this process would take, but I was pretty sure we would be back in time for me to get prepared to photograph the race. As we slowly drove the course and set up the necessary equipment it seemed to be taking a long time to me. As the time neared noon I began to have a significant increase in anxiety, fearing perhaps unrealistically that we would not get back in time for the start of the race. I think the biggest problem for me was that I was not in control of the situation. I couldn’t just leave (We were all riding in one car together doing course set up.) when I needed to and there was nothing I could do to speed things up. Also, I was 13 miles away from where my camera was.
We did arrive back to the staging area for the beginning of the race in plenty of time despite my anxiety. There was even enough time for me to help out getting some last minute stuff done there as well. Then I headed out to the start finish line to take a few photographs of the beginning of the race.

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When I photograph a race I want to not only get great shots of the runners themselves but I want to get shots that have great backgrounds that show off the race course as well. Last year I was able to photograph the race from two separate locations, one near the beginning of the course on a more scenic location and one at the finish line in town. Due to changes in the race course layout (which were significant improvements over the past) the field of runners would be much more spread out than last year by the time they arrived at the location I was at last year. That would require me to stay there for a longer time to get photographs of all the runners, which is generally my goal, before moving down to a different location. I was afraid that with the speed of some of our great runners I would not be able to photograph all the runners near the beginning and get back to the finish line in time to capture the race winners.
I made a strategic decision to pick the one most scenic location I could that I felt embodied the race at which to take the vast majority of the race photographs. I think I made the right decision. I was able to capture a few photographs at the stat line of the race beginning. Then I drove down to about mile 10.5 and waited for the runners to arrive scouting the spot a little better and finding just the right place and angle to take photos from.

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The location I chose is where on road turns onto another nice wide road right in front of where I was positioned. I would be able to see the runners approaching and turn the corner to move towards me. This to me is the most scenic spot on the course that in my opinion as one who has run it is pretty nice and scenic. There is a steep cliff that parallels the road the runners are turning on. There are a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees as well as other vegetation growing or attempting to grow up the vertical cliff. I love the combination of runners pounding the pavement combined with the natural beauty of the course with the rock cliffs and tress in the background.  I really wanted to get as much of that cliff into the photographs as possible while still filling the majority of the frame with the runner themselves. To do this I decided to shot at a slightly upward looking angle for a lot of the shots. The photos that I took from that angle came out great. My clothing decisions for that idea did not mesh nearly as well. It cost me a pair of jeans. Check out my post on Instagram to see that outcome. So I did not shoot from that angle quite as much as I would have liked. But I am still very happy with how the vast majority of the photographs came out.

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I was able to post the photographs to the runners the next day. People seemed to be looking at the photographs as soon as I posted them in the morning as a few orders were placed as well as receiving a few messages from people interested in the photos. Comments are always great from the running community. I receive great feedback from them and I always appreciate reading their words of support on social media.

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If you have any questions or comments about my photographs from Red Baron or any other aspect of my race photograph please feel free to reach out and get in touch. Thank you.

If you appreciate my work and want to support it financially you can contribute as little as $1 a month on Patreon at KRNaturalPhoto.

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2018 STRC Trail Fest at Grist Iron

Last year I ran the first trail race put on by the Southern Tier Running Club. This year I was back again but not as a runner. I photographed the event and an event it is. This is truly as billed a Trail Fest. One day, 3 races. There is a 1 mile race a 5k race and a 10k race. I photographed each one. Then there are post race festivities including live music, food, and beer. It does not get a whole lot better.

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Photographing one race can be challenging enough but photographing 3 races in a row is a different story all together. It was fun, exciting, and challenging just like running itself is. Photography at this point becomes an endurance sport in a way just like running. You have to be able to stay focused and not miss your shots. Look at what is in front of you and plan your moves just like on a trail run.

The first race of the day was the 1 mile race. I stayed relatively close to the finish line for this one and moved a little bit out into the field. I used my longest lens, my 300 mm, for this race so I could capture the runners as they approached in the distance. Then as they moved closer to the finish line I could take some nice close up shots that would also include some nice scenery of the trees and lake behind them.

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For the 5k and 10k races I wanted to be farther out on the course so I could depict more of the scenery in my photographs. But I also wanted to stay close enough that I would be able to tell when each race stated so that I could have a sense of when to expect runners to reach me. I hiked out on the course a mile or so until I came to the edge of the woods. It was the perfect spot for me to set up for photographs.

I could see into the woods along the trail that came directly towards me so I would see the runners approaching me. Then the trail took a 90 degree turn and then another 90 degree turn. The trail basically snaked around me where I was standing so I could watch runners along the trail from multiple perspectives. I would be able to photograph runner’s running head on towards me then they would turn and they would be running perpendicular to me across my field of view. Then they would turn again and be running parallel to me again. All I needed to do was change my positioning and I could capture each runner and multiple places along the trail with different scenery. I was also able to see the runners clear across the field from me as they started the race in the first mile or two and photograph them there with my 300mm lens.

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I really enjoyed photographing this event from this spot. It allowed me to be much more creative than I would otherwise be able to be. I used four different cameras during the 5k and 10k races. I took photographs from four different angles. I was also able take photographs with different scenery in the back ground and vary the composition of each photo by zooming in or out and they all came out very nice.

So, doing all that sounds perfectly good in theory, but in practice it is a bit challenging. One of my goals when I photographed this race is to try to get a photograph of everyone who is running. So transition and planning becomes very important. How will I move from photographing at one angle with one camera to using another camera at another angle and still another perhaps at a different angle or distance. This all has to be done on the move in real time as runners are approaching and passing you by.

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You have to get a feel for you equipment and how long it takes to move from one camera and one position to the next. You have to have a preconception of what you want to include in each photograph. For me at this location there were several flowering trees that I wanted to include as the background of most of the photos so I planned to take shots as runners approached each of these landmarks. You have to often be aware of multiple runners at once. As one runner is approaching one landmark another runner is approaching you. Which one do you photograph in which order so that you don’t miss any of the shots? How many of the runners do you group together on wide angle shots so that you can compose a nice scenic shot and include all the runners and not miss anyone? These are all thoughts and calculations that are going on in my head as a photographer in the moment sometimes subconsciously. It doesn’t always work out but I would say the vast majority of my photos turned out as I hoped they would.

This was all done basically sight unseen. I had a vague memory of some of the course from last year, but this year’s course was going to be very different for a variety of reasons. I had not been able to go up and preview the course prior to the race. I basically walked around and found a spot I liked minutes before the race started and then started thinking about how I wanted to photograph the runners as the race was happening around me. I am not sure if that says I am a bad planner or a good photographer for having it happen that way and being able to pull it off, but even if it was less than ideal it worked out ok. There might be a few things I would do differently but those are lessons learned for the next event.

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Another part of the experience that has benefits and drawbacks is that since I found such an ideal spot that allowed me to take a wide variety of photographs of each runner from multiple angles, is that it allowed me to take a wide variety of photographs of each runner from multiple angles. Meaning I was able to take a ton of photos. I took a large quantity of photographs, over 3000. I could have taken many more if I had chosen to. I was under the impression that I had done a good job on limiting the sheer volume of photos I took until I started reviewing them on my camera after the event and realize just how many I had taken. Capturing all those images in and of itself is great and I love having so many photos to share with people but what it means for me is more work. It is time consuming to transfer all the photographs from each memory card to my computer. I probably need to do some hardware upgrades there at some point. Then I have to upload all those photographs to the internet to share them with the runners and the race organization. That takes time and websites don’t always cooperate or make it easy to upload large numbers of files all at once. So it becomes a slow time consuming process. But it is a process that I love none the less. Then there is the process of editing photos and sharing them which is also fun but time consuming and with 3000 plus photos it will be a while before I get through them all and share any significant number of edited photos.

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All said this was a great event full of great people from the runners to the volunteers to the organization putting the event on and the host site.

Thank you to Southern Tier Running Club for having me out to photograph your event. Thank you to Grist Iron Brewing for hosting. Thank you to the volunteers for making this happen. These events don’t happen without volunteers. Thank you to all the runners who went out and got after it on the trails. I hope you all had a great time and I hope you enjoy the photographs.

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Southern Tier Running Club 5k and 10k

Today I photographed the Southern Tier Running Club 5k and 10k race in upstate, NY. This is such a great put on by a great local organization. The runners are all amazing. 700 plus runners turned out for this local event. Here is one of my favorite photographs I took at the event. There are so many to go through. They will all be posted online soon for the runners to see. Follow me here and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more updates and race photos when they are available. See you at the next race.

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STRC Pie and Glove Photography

Thanksgiving morning I photographed the Southern Tier Running Club’s annual tradition, the Pie and Glove 5K. participants in the race receive a pair of gloves and the race winner recieve pies as awards. There were 713 participants plus a great crew of volunteers working to make the race happen.

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Last year was the first time I had photographed this event. I waited at the finish line for the runners to arrive. I photographed them as they were running straight towards me at the finish line. This created head on photographs of people running. I think this resulted in some good photographs.

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However, I don’t like to do the same thing all the time. I wanted this years photos to have a distinct feel to them. As I have been learning and trying to improve my photography I’m learning what things I like and what I think looks better. I think that I like to get some photographs of runners from the side as they run by. I think this shows their effort and motion better than a head on shot. I also really like to find the nicest scenery I can at a location to have in the background for a series of shots. If I can do that I will zoom out and try to capture the runner along with some of the scenery in the shot. I think I was able to find a nice spot at the park to do this during the race.

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My standard gear setup for race photography has me using two camera bodies each with a different telephoto lens on it. One body has a 300mm telephoto lens with a 1.4 teleconverter for added zoom. The other camera body has my 70-200 zoom lens. This works great for standing at the finish line photographing runners as they approach. You can stand there and pick them out from a distance as the finish line is essentially a long straight away so its pretty easy to switch from one runner to the next and photograph everyone. In this method my 300mm lens is usually my primary lens.

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This tim planned on my 70-200 bein my primary lens and I ould switch between that and capturing some shots of more distant runners with my 300mm lens. As it turned out with the relatively short race and large number of runners there was not time to switch between lenses to capture distant and more close up shots. Runners where zipping by with almost no gaps after the first few runners. Taking photos from the side view meant I only had a limited range of time to get a shot of each runner and as I learned it was very quick. I have to get the shot as the runner run by this small strip of land where I am standing. I don’t have an over 100 meter runway within which to capture shots.

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So since I had no time to switch lenses I used my 70-20mm zoom constantly, which lead to my memory card filling up surprisingly fast and unexpectedly. Runners will still streaming by as I fumbled to switch cameras and reposition to a spot where the 300mm telephoto lens was effective at isolating each runner from the crowd and could focus on mor than just the runners head. I eventually got backed up all the way to the finish line and was able to continue photographing all the runners, but I regret the fact that I missed some of the runners.

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Each photography outing is a learning experience. This one more so than most. I really liked the location where I shot the race from. Not too far from the finish. A spot where the likely winner was mostly established. I could see the finish line. Runners were about as spread out as they would get. It was also a spot with some decent scenery for the background. So for next year I will plan to not use my 300mm lens for this race and instead I will use either my 60mm or 50mm lens on my second camera body. This way I will have multiple lenses that will allow me to shoot similar types of photographs like I am aiming for.

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If you would like to see the photographs that I took of the race check them out here and consider buying a print or download: Southern Tier Running Club 2017 Pie and Glove 5K. Let m know what you think of the images. These are all the unedited images from the race. So there are plenty of bad shots in with the good ones. Be kind.

If you appreciate the work I do you can also support my work for as little as $1 a month on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/KRNaturalPhoto The higher level you support at the more rewards you are eligible for. Thank you for your support.

STRC Pie and Glove

I’ll see everyone at the Southern Tier Running Club Pie and Glove 5k tomorrow. Enjoy the race. I’ll be there to capture the event on camera and share it with you all. You will be able to find race photos on my website. They should be up by the weekend at the latest. Please let me know what you think of them and share links to your favorite photos with your friends. You can also order prints or digital downloads of your favorite photos.

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STRC Pie and Glove 5k 2016

STRC Pie and Glove 5K

I spent Thanksgiving Morning volunteering at the Southern Tier Running Club Pie and Glove 5K. I photographed the event for the organization and posted the photos online for all the participants to see. Here are a few that I liked.