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This may seem like a strange question, but I'm trying to get a feel for what riders are looking for in photos at races. Over the last three years I've shot a bunch of XC, DH and CX races in the Central Calif area. I try to get different locations for the photos at each race, but the photos tend to look the same after the years, so time for some research.

FYI: I do not charge for these photos, so I'm not making any money from this, it keeps me busy while other people race (and keeps me from crashing) and I would like to think I'm a better photographer than racer (I'm really slow as a rider). These two folders show the latest XC and DH photos if you want to see what I'm talking about.

CCCX XC folder:
http://bikeguy.smugmug.com/2008%20CCCX%20Mountain%20Bike%20XC%20Races/537319

CCCX DH folder:
http://bikeguy.smugmug.com/gallery/5032160_iY6tW#302199798_Eon39

While I know what I like, that does not mean that other people have to like the same thing.

Typically for a DH race, I'll look for a steep / drop section or corner after a straight for photos of riders. While I'll shoot during any practice time, I'll try to stay in the same place for the whole race, so there are a lot of photos of different riders in the same spot. I really cannot move very far with riders 30 seconds to a minute apart. Very rarely will there be more than one rider in a photo, since DH is more of an individual race against the clock.

Typically for a XC race, I'll look for an uphill, downhill, or corner where I can sit inside the corner safely and out of the way. I'll try to take photos from a different spot for each lap of the race. Whenever I can get a view of multiple racers in a frame (actual racing) I'll try to shoot that as XC is a race against other riders.

What I would like to know is what are you looking for in race pictures (other than you winning the race)?

Thanks in Advance for your time and responses.

Regards
Rick
 

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BrassBalled DropbarNinja
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I would like to see more shots focusing on the rider with more of a motion blurred background or something. Also look for some of the rough sections with rocks and such. Always cool to see the riders at work. Also, sideshots of fast drops and straights are always nice too. And always, berm shots and corners... nothing like seeing a rider sliding the entrance and cutting the axis and sliding out the exit... XD
 

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mtbr dismember
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My $ 0.02

RickR said:
DH ...I'll try to stay in the same place for the whole race, so there are a lot of photos of different riders in the same spot...

XC...I'll look for an uphill, downhill, or corner where I can sit inside the corner safely and out of the way....
Is your goal to take a photo of every rider in order to sell a photo to each rider or are you trying to document what goes on at a race? Your approach seems pretty conservative and what photos I saw of yours look pretty conservative and almost staged. There is very little action in any of them. I say move around a lot, get lower to the ground, closer to the action, and use several different lens.

Sitting safely out of the way will give you "safe" but boring photos. I was covered in dirt after one shoot because I used a wide angle lens and set up at a corner where I knew people would be falling and dirt would be flying. And watch your background, the angle of the sun and the shadows. On my last "shoot" I used a flash, which meant I had to be really close, and the results were much better. Note the eyes and details in some of photos. Photos from several races on my site. I'm no expert, I just do it for fun.


My location was key to this one


Pick a spot you know will be exciting




Get low to the ground


I like the two kids all armored up in the background


Note you can ID this guy and there is action












 

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Lusus Naturae
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Some of the DH courses and XC races have good "action spots" where you can easily get good shots all day long, as evidenced by Wherewolf's photos above. However, races like CCCX where a lot of the same people race every time and the course is not as glamorous, more improvisation would be necessary.

Most individual shots look pretty much the same, with variations depending on whether its a sketchy/fast area or a difficult uphill grunt. What I typically look for in the pictures is a way to get a feel for the flow of the race by looking at all of the images and racers in order, which is why when they're out of order (time), it makes all the pictures just appear random. Having timestamps would also be good and locations on the trail/google maps where the images were taken.

I can't speak for DH courses since I am not into racing DH.

Keep up the good work though; the number of pictures might seem like a lot but most people only have 2 or 3 shots each. For someone who does just one race and wants to re-live the moment, its priceless no matter what the level of action. Pre/post race pics are also cool and encouraged.

I tried to take some video footage the past couple races but had a hard time finding a spot that I figured would produce anything. I'd like to follow the race as it progresses but its difficult when you dont have a list of racers and quick ways to get from one part of the course to another. Unfortunately this isnt the tour de france! Eventually I want to make some videos that have commentary and music, that I can upload to Joost or some other site that caters to alternative sports content.
 

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Lusus Naturae
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Additionally, if you setup somewhere that racers can see you before-hand, you'll get more action and "race face" shots. Some cameramen go as far as having little signs that indicate the upcoming photo op.
 

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Wherewolf said:
Is your goal to take a photo of every rider in order to sell a photo to each rider or are you trying to document what goes on at a race?
This is the real question. Do you want to take serviceable shots that you can sell to racers or do you want to take interesting shots for yourself? If you want to take shots for yourself, different angles is huge. Macro, wide angle, longer shots with depth of field, etc. I'm not a professional photographer but I think slaves(remote flashes) make a huge difference as well.
 

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Crazed Country Rebel
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Boobs!

RickR said:
This may seem like a strange question, but I'm trying to get a feel for what riders are looking for in photos at races.

What I would like to know is what are you looking for in race pictures (other than you winning the race)?

Thanks in Advance for your time and responses.

Regards
Rick
I look for boobs. The mountain bikers are generally easy to find in mountain biking photos. Boobs, not so much.
 

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I look for the least amount of Spandex.
And I like a nice low shot with some sky mixed in.
 

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Shots of XC racers getting some air are always nice. I also like shots of tough drops that tend to catch some people by surprise. Those expressions can't be faked very easily. I like the fact that you caught at least one guy off the bike and pushing up hill. That happens.
thanks for taking the time to photo the races.
 

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aka dan51
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Any shot that doesn't look staged. Most race photos I see are of a head on look in a fairly flat section. While the quality of the photos is excellent, then general tone of the image can be boring.

Try all sorts of angles, locations, get side shots, shots from behind. Incorporate the surrounds too. Most bikers love just being out in nature, so add that in if possible. I know these are race photos, but you can get creative. Face shots are always good too. They show the pain/pleasure and concentration of the rider. It brings emotion to the pics. Wherewolf has a few great shots like that above. Other good pics might be focused on the crowd watching, and the biker in the pic, but blurry.
 

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Location, Location, Location

I enjoy taking photos of people riding also and I have found that the key is to be in a spot where you can catch a section where the rider is challenged. The trail should look technical (unless it is a jump or berm). I think getting low to the ground helps too. For berms, the ones that have looked the best for me are the ones where I have captured the image in a way that the rider's front wheel looks like it is coming right at me.
 

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Premium Member
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personally...i look too skinny.....not very muscular.....kinda noodley......not very handsome......generally making a dumb face.....and it's clear i don't know what i'm doing.....

can you fix that for me.......?





i keed...i keed......i am a fan of forced perspective.....really dynamic stuff....but really, i like your photos...THANKS!!!
 

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Uncle
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Uphill shots in general are dull

If you find a particularly steep, challenging out-o'-the-saddle section, you might get some good grunt shots from near the ground. Sweat, gritting teeth, snot bubbles -- these will enhance the experience of the picture. Generally though, anything less intense will yield boring shots -- "Yep, that's me... on a bike :rolleyes: "type shots.

I think some photographers stand at the bottom of a hill hoping the get high speed shots. A lot of times these include the most recent bit of trail as the background, and without the sky, it just looks flat. This would be a great location to get low and off to an angle.

Try PMing Desmo13. He's a recreational photo that has produced some good action shots, and he'll have better advice than I.
http://desmo13.exposuremanager.com/g/racing
 
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