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!)