The Trials and Tribulations of a Non Pro Photographer.

This post started out as a bit of fun on the Twitters, but there was a good reaction there, so I will give a little more detail of what it is like to photograph a bike race as someone who doesn’t do it as a living.

First, a little background. I was lucky enough to get a couple of media passes. One through RIDE magazine and one with the Velocast. The Velocast one was a photographer. Both gave me the same access, to the start line and to the media centre.

Better access than I had last year, which would make for some interesting interactions with riders and other cycling luminaries. I should take a moment to thank both Rob Arnold at RIDE and John and Scott at the Velocast for giving me this opportunity.

Now, on with the story.

I got back from Adelaide on Monday, and started trawling through my photos, all 4958 of them. I love taking photos, processing them, isn’t my favourite past time. The first one to go up was this shot of Caleb Ewan and Cadel Evans at the Peoples Choice Classic on the Sunday night before the race.

I am still undecided about that shot. Shot between a bunch of punters, it was one of those moments where you just have to mash the shutter button and hope.

As reported on Twitter, there would be a mass of black and white shots to come, but when you have the sun blasting over your shoulder, it is best to use the golden light of the afternoon.

Cadel is looking a little bemused at all the attention he is getting.

The biggest issue with shooting at this race was the massive crowd and lack of media areas. This is the result.

There are also occasions it works. Showing the crowd and framing the rider. This shot from stage one.

Or showing the crowds interaction with the riders. Gerro takes stage one.

That shot is a pretty heavy crop, but I am happy with it considering how far I was from the finish.

The biggest advantage of the start line access is getting photos you may not normally be able to get.

Andree looking pretty chilled out before stage two. You can also get clearer access to the heavy hitters of the sport. Here are two legends of the Australia women’s cycling scene.

Anna Meares and Kate Bates. When I say clearer, it is all relative. I had a shot framed of them having a hug, but someone walked in front of me and all I got was a blue and white Skoda hat.

Out on the road it is a very different story. Just finding places to get good clear shots can be fun. It would also be easier if you knew the area.

On the Corkscrew stage, I drove up the back of the KOM point, but got to a point where there were that many cyclists on the road, all going to the same point, that I abandoned that idea and found a different spot about halfway down the hill and set up there with a few others.

We weren’t alone.

Having no phone coverage, we had no idea who would get over the top first. Here was my first shot of the leader.

I am a little disappointment that I didn’t catch him quicker, but he came out of that corner so fast! As he zoomed by, I managed this shot.

One of my favourites of the race.

There are times when you have to try something different. I was laying in a drainage ditch to get this shot. It didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.

This shot however, turned out way better than I expected.

That said, I have had virtually no feedback about it. I expect it is one of those shots where the story of taking it is better than the actual shot. I took the above shot from the hip as I walked across the road.

There are other times when the subject of the photo generates more buzz than the photo itself. This shot of Jens grinding up Willunga Hill got retweet after retweet on Twitter.

As usual, the finish line is a great spot, but I don’t have media credentials there, so I am amongst the punters like everyone else. It is about trying to predict where the riders will come to a stop. Here are three shots I am happy with at the end of the Willunga Hill stage.

The riders had turned themselves inside out on the climb. Stage winner, race winner and Natthan Haas.

And just before you get too carried away thinking all those photos worked out ok, here is just a few examples of the duds, and there were plenty of them.

I hope that gives you a small insight of what it is like to take a bunch of photos at a bike race.

It is rewarding, frustrating, exhausting and above all, fun.

There will be full galleries up later this week, once I have gotten over this man flu and sorted all the photos out.

Thanks for reading.

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One Response to The Trials and Tribulations of a Non Pro Photographer.

  1. Sam B says:

    Great coverage norbs. i think the photos you took were fantastic.

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