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Thread: Mountain Bike Race

  1. #1

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    Mountain Bike Race

    A few weeks ago I asked for recommendations of how I should approach a mountain bike competition. I also asked for recommended settings. I have mixed feelings to the results as some images are better than others.
    I used a Canon D60 with Canon EF 70 - 200mm f/4L IS USM lens on Tv (f4, ISO 120 - 160) & and an EFS 17 - 85mm lens F4 (ISO 120 - 160).
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  2. #2

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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    You will always get a lot of rejects with this sort of tricky event, Andy. So don't worry about that.

    It is usually a case of keep shooting and hope there are enough keepers to make the day worthwhile. You haven't given the shutter speeds.

    Those you have shown seem fairly good, although they are at a smallish size.

    I might consider cropping a couple of them at 5 x 4 ratio but it does need sufficient background to put everything into context.

    With the fourth image, you have missed the leading rider, but got the others sharply focused. I would prefer it to be the other way around. Just showing part of a foreground figure which is out of focus can work OK but there is a little too much importance implied to the out of focus lead figure in this case.

    However, I'm not sure that cropping to remove part of this figure would work as an alternative.

  3. #3
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    #2 has a warmer white balance than the rest, and I think it improves the shot. With outdoor scenes, white balance becomes very important. Small shifts can imply totally different weather. Regardless of the actual temperature at the time, I think the warmer-looking shot is preferable. #2's nice and sharp, but a little shoe flash (event rules permitting) to fill the front rider would have made him more of a focal point. Shoe-mounted flash gets something of a bad rap, but I think it works very well for adding a little fill during run-and-gun events (fine print is that flash gels will probably be necessary to maintain color balance).

    I agree with Geoff about image 4. Composition is great, but the lack of focus on the leader is a deal-breaker. I know it's painful to hear that. Every time I return from a derby bout, I throw out dozens of well-timed shots whose focal planes just didn't land where I needed them. f2.0 and autofocus doesn't give one much room for error. I usually throw out about 90% of my derby shots, and about 5% of the total gets released to the public. Way less than one percent are what I'd call great shots. Shooting action is hard. No matter how well you prepare, plan, and train, there will always be luck involved. Spray-and-pray is the closest thing to a solution (thus, the Canon 1Dx's 14fps drive speed, and the reason 7Ds are so popular with action shooters).

    Next time, see if you can get real close to the track with a wide-angle. Competitions and performances usually don't give you a chance to get close, but if you do, a short lens can make the subject look larger than life, highly dynamic, and capture details impossible at long range. Of course, don't get too close. I caught a fire performer's flaming, gas-soaked poi in my lens hood once. Rather unsettling, and the hood's lightly singed, but the shot came out great.

  4. #4
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Just picking up from the other comments above, another thing to think about in sports action photography is 'action'.

    In terms of composition, the guy at the front in #3 looks as he's out for a nice Sunday afternoon relaxing cycle, instead of being engaged in the white heat of high-energy competition. So, in a sport like this, you've got to try and get a point on the course where rider-concentration is going to be at the maximum. Look at #2 in comparison. A totally different energy and dynamic in the image.

    I think Lex's idea is a good one. Get in closer with a wider angle (after doing a reasonable risk assessment). You could end up with some wonderful stuff.
    Last edited by Donald; 20th February 2013 at 03:27 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Thanks for all your views. It was only until afterwards when I was discussing the photos with the organisers that I thought of a wide angled lens & get closer for more dynamic shots. I had trouble uploading the photo's but have resolved my problem - the images were too big as had changed the settings on my computer for something else & forgot until too late!!. I'm booked in again for July where I aim to be more involved.

  6. #6

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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    How are you uploading your photos, Andy?

    I find with the Tinypics option I can use 1000 pixels on the long side and 96 ppi (give or take a bit) and still be well within the limitations.

    The CinC Albums require quite a bit smaller in the way of file size.

  7. #7

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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    I am experimenting with Lightroom & exporting to different folders. I tried to enlarge an image a couple of days age &forgot to change my settings. Any guidance on the most efficient/best way to do this would be great.
    I realise I am still novice like but will get there eventually.
    There were over 200 competitors for this comp & I posted 240 images. I wanted to post the images quickly as too much delay would have a negative result. My result was posting images that were not ALL good..... Doh!

  8. #8
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybazyoung View Post
    I wanted to post the images quickly as too much delay would have a negative result.
    Arguably, posting images that were poor (and I'm not suggesting any or all of yours came into this category) would have an even greater negative result.

    The temptation is to put lots up and 'know' that the people viewing them will understand that they can't all be good. They won't.

    You've got to be your own hardest critic, set your self a bar under which you shall not go and if any image doesn't come up to that standard, don't post it. Even if that means that images of some people don't get included.

    Those individuals might be disappointed, but your reputation will remain intact and be enhanced amongst wider constituency.

  9. #9

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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Like Donald advised, when faced with similar situations, I select the best, and hopefully easiest to edit, and work on them first; but without doing any quick shortcuts. The medium quality shots get added later.

    Then if somebody asks 'Do you have one of me' you can say 'Yes but it isn't very good I was going to ditch it'.

    Often, they will then accept a poorer quality result if they know that is all which is available.

    We really need to have some more details of what you are doing by way of enlargement. Going in that direction can be tricky. I would usually prefer to lower the resolution a little before enlarging too much.

    I tend to regard each edit as being unique and requiring individual adjustment so accidentally getting the settings wrong doesn't easily occur.

    Camera settings when doing quick shots is a different matter though.

  10. #10

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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Sorry this thread went a bit cold I have been away for a half term break - back to school tomorrow - deep joy!
    Thank you all so much for your comments. Lex 7D would be great right now but a luxury I cannot afford so must stick with the camera I have & I take your point I must be much more ruthless. Donald, ironically, I have been asked for a couple of photographs that were not posted. Geoff, I do remember trying to change settings but gave up especially when riders were coming at me quickly. I really do get what you are all saying & am extremely grateful for your comments.
    Andy

  11. #11
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybazyoung View Post
    Lex 7D would be great right now but a luxury I cannot afford so must stick with the camera I have...
    Story of my (and every other photog's) life. But it's a good sign if your gear is sometimes holding you back. Frustrating, but it means your abilities or vision are starting to exceed your equipment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybazyoung View Post
    ...I must be much more ruthless.
    Now yer gettin' it. Cautious, courteous aggression will get you very far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybazyoung View Post
    Donald, ironically, I have been asked for a couple of photographs that were not posted. Geoff, I do remember trying to change settings but gave up especially when riders were coming at me quickly. I really do get what you are all saying & am extremely grateful for your comments.
    Andy
    One rule of photographic aesthetics no one ever seems to mention: if a normal (non-model) person's in an unfocused, poorly composed, angled, blurred, noisy, poorly-white-balanced photo, they'll probably think it's great.

  12. #12
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    Re: Mountain Bike Race

    Hi Andy,

    I've never shot such a MB race, only road races, but from that I know that "head-on" is the most likely type of shot to be disappointing because (take your pick);
    they may often lack obvious 'action'; they may lack motion blur of legs, wheels or background
    the AF, or your timing of shutter release at manually pre-focussed distance, may go wrong
    the subject merges into a sharp background


    That said, due to the angles of the riders, we do get a sense of action with your shots - #2 is my pick of the bunch.

    I don't disagree with the comments and suggestions from the others above, but I wonder if there was any possibility of getting side shots? Perhaps "forestry" is just too dense to contemplate successful focus.

    I can see the reasons for the differing WB, the sun was shining in #2 and #3, where as I suspect #1 and #4 were shots while it was hiding behind a cloud and this does affect the WB, you could try nudging it (falsely) towards something warmer and see what it looks like.

    Personally, I would have used higher iso than 160 tops, to get a faster shutter speed (when necessary, but be careful of freezing too much, especially when head-on), perhaps you just didn't need to.

    Hope that's helpful,

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