Triathlon : Contact Tri-Series, Takapuna, Auckland

Started Mar 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Triathlon : Contact Tri-Series, Takapuna, Auckland
Mar 11, 2012

A few weeks ago the Contact Tri-Series Triathlon took place in Takapuna, Auckland. This was my second time taking pictures at a triathlon, and I thought I'd share some of my observations as well as some of the better results.

First off, I'm just an amateur photographer with a particular interest in sports and action photography. So my comments are more about "taking interesting pictures" rather than making money doing it.

Having said that, triathlons are really fun events to photograph. The three different disciplines and the transitions between them make for lots of good photographic opportunities. You can really tell a story with an album of pictures.

Unlike some other sports, triathlons aren't particularly demanding equipment-wise. The events are outside in full daylight, so wide apertures are only needed for subject isolation rather than creating enough light to see what's going on. I shot my first triathlon with a 70-300 kit lens with acceptable results. For this event, I used a 200mm 2.8. (Had a short zoom in the bag, but never took it out). With that focal length on a 7D, the photos tended to crop themselves. You could probably go a bit wider without too many problems.

General tip - knowing the course will help you out. You can quickly move between between the best vantage points as competitors move from one leg to the next. Some courses have just one lap for the cycle and running legs (so you only get to see a competitor once or twice), others have multiple laps. For the event I went to in November, the cycle course went past different corners of the same intersection three times each lap - and there were 8 laps on the cycle leg!

Swim leg : The swim leg doesn't seem to lend itself to exciting pictures, but you can get good shots of the competitors waiting for the start, the start itself, and swimmers exiting the water, running to the cycle leg. One of the media photographers at Takapuna waded waist deep into the water to capture the competitors front on at the start!

Cycle leg : This is where you can get some of the most dynamic pictures, whether you want to get fancy with panning shots, or just capture good shots of the action. I found you can actually freeze the action too much - cycle shots seem to work better if the shutter speed is slow enough to blur the spokes - around 1/500 or so. If you want to do a panning shot, go another notch or two lower on the shutter speed.

Running leg : For the run, its really about just getting a position to snap the competitors and get the faces. Worth setting up near the finish line to capture the expressions on that last sprint to the finish.

Anyway, any comments or criticisms from more experienced photographers welcomed. (I can post more pictures from the event if people are interested).

Canon EOS 7D
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