Photographing cycling races is fun but it can be quite challenging as well; it’s more so when it involves a group of cyclists instead of a single rider. It’s a good idea to warm up your photography too when the cyclists are warming up. So, start taking shots before the real action begins. You can click snaps of cyclists practicing for the event or getting their bicycles ready for it.
Audience and the Finish Line
When the cycling competition begins, you can also capture some interesting moments from the excitement of the spectators along the way. The finish line shots of exhaustion, joy and frustration are of course not to be missed.
Shadows and Silhouettes
You need not always focus on the bicycle too much since it by itself is an identifiable object. Bicycle races often offer good opportunities to shoot shadows and silhouettes of both, the athletes as well as the bikes. These pictures can be very simple and sober, and yet very interesting and attractive.
Be ready for all Weather and Angles
It’s a good idea to make sure you’re prepared for all types of weather at outside events. For instance, on rainy days you may find the cyclists are covered in mud and the spray form the bike’s back wheel can also make for a pretty creative photo. You can also get some creative shots by taking photos from different angles. You may want to capture the race from above or get down low to the ground and use a wide angle lens.
Image Background Should Have Action
The background of your photos will be able to create a sense of action and movement. You can try panning to create the speed of the race and a variety of blurring effects may be created with several types of lenses. You can experiment with shutter speeds and if you have a tripod you can slow the shutter down quite a bit as it will keep the camera steady.
You can usually get quite close to all of the action at cycling races and this will allow you to try out different lenses such as fish eyes and ultra wide models. If you use a telephoto lens it will enable you to step back while you frame the cyclists with a landscape shot.
Landscape Along the Bicycling Route
If the race is being competed on a track or city route the riders will pass around the same course several times. If you know the exact route of the race you’ll be able to scout it out and choose the spot you think will provide the best shots. This could be a specific feature or landscape that the cyclists will be passing by.
Uphills, Downhills and Turns
Some of the best cycling photos are taken facing downhill at the inside of a turn. The cyclists will often strain to reach the top of the hill and you can then focus on their faces as well as their bodies as many of them will get up off their seat while going uphill. If you’re close enough and focusing on their face you can try using flash if it’s allowed. However, you could temporarily blind the cyclist for a split second.
Participants’ Uniform and Accessories
Most cyclists wear bright colors and this helps you identify them if you want to take shots from a distance against a landscape. Also, the uniforms and bikes are quite photogenic and even futuristic as they wear aerodynamic helmets as well as mirrored glasses. These items, and the bikes themselves, can often make for some powerful and strong images.