Monday, August 29, 2016

Crim 2016 Hand cycle start

One of the races at the Crim is the hand cycle.  These amazing athletes go the 10 miles on their cycles.  With their arms.  Wow.

This was taken at the start of the race - clearly with the participants crossing the start line.  I had access to get past the crowd control fences, so I could sit right at the line.

I like the excess contrast and a bit of HDR on this - and most of my shots.

ISO 400
Aperture Priority

2106 Crim Festival of Races

Well - I after 15+ years in Flint, I finally made it to the Crim Races.
Like many things in life I can ask myself - why did I wait so long?
From a social point of view, I was really touched by the Special Olympics.  I expected to see the main participants - but what I didn't expect was the support each participant received, from family to strangers.  Very fun to watch.
I saw a number of 'professional' photographers at the event.  They all had lime green vests stating they were professional photographers.  OK then....  I shadowed some of them for a while, just to watch them work the crowd.  I have one real shortcoming - that is I'm not comfortable working with people.  These professional folks were very good at getting individuals and group to pose for them.  I have something to work for.
I also saw what I'd call independent professional photographers.  They had no special credentials or vests - but large camera bags and multiple cameras around their necks.  I watched some of these folks - and they hustled.  They had note pads and they were taking notes.
From a photographic point of view I changed all my plans at the last minute.  I carried only one camera just because this was the first time I've been in this environment and I came to the realization that trying to manage two cameras would have been just too much.  So I carried the D7200 with a 18-200 lens.
I shot all my photos in RAW - just because you never know when that artsy situation is going to happen.
I set my camera up for continuous auto focus, which was new to me.  I set it up for 51 points of sampling.  I found that when there is that much action that close, the camera became overwhelmed.  Next time I will go with fewer points.  I tossed a few shots where the point of focus was not what I expected.  On the bright side, sometimes the unexpected worked out nicely.
The goal for this project is to deliver photographs that can be used for future publication by the race organization.  In return, I was given access to all areas - course included.  This is the first time I've had to deliver 'normal' finished shot - no art.  Yikes!  More about that later.
I took close to 1600 shots.  Sounds like a lot, but I shoot bursts of 3 - 5 shots in most cases.  One of them should turn out OK, right?  In the end, I have close to 700 shots that I will need to process.
The Friday evening photos were mostly in shady light conditions.  In my normal post processing of running the RAW shots through Photomatix, I just couldn't get a normal looking shot.  I was trying to keep at 1/500th for my speed, but the Special Olympics I really didn't need that at all.  I could go pretty normal around 1/100th.  For the other Friday races where I could get some better light I stayed around 1/200.
The Saturday race shots that I shot manual (1/500 / ISO 400 / 5.6) turned out much better than I thought.  I also got some early shots (6:00 AM) of the race set up, but most of them will not see the light of day.
With the number of shots that I had, I also decided that if I can't make Lightroom work for me now, I never will.  Since the Photomatix wasn't giving me the results I wanted, I used LR to apply a general ICC file to add a little color to the RAW images and for the most past they turned out well for at least proofing.  
In the end I think there are maybe 20 photos that could be used for publications.  And I think I have 5 or 6 that have some real potential.
In the end, it was a lot of fun.  I'm happy with the results for a first time - and have some ideas for better shots next year.  (If I can remember that long!)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Flint's Crim Races

The next project:  Flint's 2016 Crim Race.  (

Our photoclub has been working with the race for a few years providing hundreds of photos for promotional and historical publications.

On Friday August 26, there will be a Special Olympics race followed by a series of one mile races.  It looks like there will be some professional races along with some amateur school aged races.

On Saturday August 27, the main races will take place.  The first race is a 10 mile track, followed by a 8k track and then a 5k track.

Since this will be my first time at the event, I have pre-work to do.
1.  I need to see the course.  The route is well published - so a walk/drive is probably in order.
2.  I need to find a unique location/perspective.  As much as I' like to do the Start/Finish line standard shots, I'd find that - well BORING.  I heard there is a person who constructs a water tunnel that runners can use, or not.  I need to find out for sure but this has possibilities.
3.  This is a different environment for me.  My comfort zone is usually more forgiving, that is I can always go back for another try if I don't like the first attempt.  This environment is one and done.  I might be able to make mid-course corrections, if I'm fast enough.  I understand that 80% of the runners in any of the races will cross through the point where I'm shooting in about 10 minutes.  There will be time between races to review, but.....
4.  The whole auto-focus thing.  I usually shoot shoot in the single servo mode.  For action shots, I'll need to go to the continuous servo mode.  Sure sounds easy, but there are other considerations involved, such as when the camera shutter will actually release.  Does it wait for focus, or does it shoot even if the shot is out of focus?  I've enjoyed the back button focus set up - but now with a continuous focus is that going to present an issue?

It's been a nice summer, a long time between photos.  I got the equipment out this morning - charged batteries and started working.

I don't have any issues with using a hand-held camera for this project, but I need to make sure I can get the second camera to work as I want.  

The first camera is a Nikon D7200.  I'll be using that with my primary lens, Nikkor 18-200.  It will be hand held, but taking action shots.  I'm thinking of getting a 1/500 shutter speed at the very least.

The second camera will be a Nikon D90 with Nikkor's 18-105 kit lens.  I will be using a Neewer release timer.  So the work here is to remember how to program the unit.  In my head, I picture (Ha Ha- Pun alert) setting it to shoot one picture every one second for five minutes.  I'd like to hit the timer button then focus (Ha Ha - ah forget it.)  on the hand held shots.  Simple enough, but can the camera buffer take all that?  More pre work, find out how much I can stress the buffer.  As part of the new camera purchase earlier int he year, I had a 32 gig card thrown in.  That is now in the D90 - and will give me over 2k RAW shots.  The number of shots won't be the limiting factor here.  The next issue is the shutter speed.  My first camera, handheld, will be set around 1/500 for capture shots.  For the second camera, I think the effect I'm looking will be a much slower speed, around 1/30.  On a sunny day, that might be hard to achieve - so my have to get the neutral density filter out.  The lowest ISO for the D90 is 200, and I'd like to set the aperture somewhere between 8 and 11.  There'll be some testing involved.

I'm a lot more comfortable shooting in Manual mode these days.  I have no problem setting the second camera in total manual mode, including focus.  Sure, there are things that could go wrong like a cloud drifting through, but if I shoot 600 hundred shots, one is bound to come out just right!  

And the last thing I need to remember is the equipment temperature.  It's been so hot here lately - going from an A/C house to 85+ with high humidity might not be desirable.