Tips for Great Cycling Photos
Saturday, 22 January 2011 15:30
Bicycle and mountain bike races and contests offer opportunities to take action photos. Follow these tips to ensure that you capture the moment with all its drama and color intact.
Bicycle and mountain bike races and contests (Bicycle Accessories) offer opportunities to take action photos. Follow these tips to ensure that when cyclists ride into view, you capture the moment with all its drama and color intact.
Choose the right shutter speed
To stop action, choose a shutter speed that is 1/250 of a second or faster. Many point and shoot and digital SLR cameras have an automatic sports setting that takes care of this for you. However, don't be afraid to use a slower shutter speed along with judicious panning.
As the cyclists go past, move your camera along with the riders and shoot. This combination of slow shutter speed and panning keeps the cyclist in focus while blurring the background. It's a terrific effect that, when done right, yells out the speed, excitement and drama of bike racing. A shutter speed of 1/100 or 1/125 of a second is often just right. For even more dramatic effect, drop your shutter speed even lower—to 1/30 or 1/15 of a second—and pan while using a fill flash.
Pay attention to backgrounds
Pro photographers pay as much attention to what's behind their subject as to the subject itself. When choosing a location to shoot passing cyclists, mind what's across the road. The colorful peloton will really pop when shot against a dark, uniform background. Canopies of dark green trees are ideal, as are cliffs or open skies. Avoid distracting elements like light poles, ugly buildings, parked trucks or street signs. Anything that competes with the main subject—the cyclists—is something you want to keep out of your photo.
Depth of field
The f stop is the ratio of the shutter opening to the size of the lens. Smaller numbers are larger openings: f1 means the shutter opens to the maximum diameter of the lens, while f22 and smaller are pinhole openings. Eliminate background clutter if you can by opening the f-stop of your lens as much as possible to reduce the depth of field. Your subject is in sharp focus while the rest of the frame is out of focus. Small point-and-shoot cameras aren't capable of this, nor are the kit lens that generally come with SLR cameras.
Shoot high and shoot low
Great photographs startle us with a fresh way of looking at the world. To create arresting cycling photos, try shooting up from a low-to-the-ground angle or down from up in the air. These mouse and bird's-eye views work because humans are accustomed to seeing cyclists pass by from the point of view of our eyes—about five feet off the ground. By shooting from low and high angles, you create images that short-circuit the human expectations formed by a lifetime of seeing cyclists from eye level.
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