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Published on Thu Oct 12, 2017 by David Colbran
Shooting marathons is a lot of fun, but it's also tiring and tricky to do right. For me preparation is key. Here are my top 6 tips.
For sharp images, shutter speeds need to be 1/250th of a second or above - 1/500 is ideal. These guys move fast, any lower all images are going to blurry. Alternatively you may want to consider a panning effect, moving the camera at the same speed as the subject so it remains in focus with a blurred background. Also try and set your aperture at around f/8 – f/11 where the lens will be at it’s sharpest.
Ensuring you have the correct equipment is essential. Backups of everything are ideal and of course have plenty of spare battery packs and memory cards to hand and in a place where they can be swapped over quickly. Also use a monopod, rather than a tripod - much more maneuverable and less likely to trip runners over.
You are going to be outdoors for 5 to 6 hours. Check the forecast! Have a few zip locked plastic bags, in case of wet or muddy conditions. Also waterproof packs or camera cases to store the extra equipment. Protect cameras with rain sleeves if you can. Nothing worse than having to stop because of an equipment failure - look after your kit !
Location, location, location. Event photography is all about the location, so even when familiar with a place, it is wise to arrive early and check sight-lines. Sit low to the ground on a curb or a chair for good angles. Don't forget about the background to the runners. Try and get in a landmark, failing that something nice and colourful - spectators, trees, balloon arches etc
Full waterproof clothes and boots. I’ve lost track of the number of photographers I’ve seen at events that are not kitted out for inclement weather. Especially in the UK, things can change pretty quick and often there won't be time to return to a car to get a forgotten jacket. Also a stool or chair can make things a little easier - remember often you will in the same place for hours, so make it easy on yourself.
Bring along enough energy drinks and food to keep you going through the day. You won't have time to disappear off to the cafe or pub, so sort out your own supplies. Marathon runners don’t stop for lunch and neither do I.
Technically shooting marathons is tough. The goal is to get as many shots as perfect as possible to increase the chances of a sale. And while some companies ask you to 'machine gun' the participants - remember its quality that sells rather than quantity.
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Author: David Colbran
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