I'm working through the pile from the latest to the oldest as this weekend's racing in Fort William is the biggest pile and I want to get them out there at least at the same time as everyone else that was shooting up there. And there were a lot of cameras on that hill!
Once again I didn't get my self organised enough to get a photo pass before the event so was "limited" to shooting from behind the red tape like everyone else. To be honest, it really doesn't make a difference for shooting the DH event as the course is accesible pretty much all the way down.
The 4X event is a different story, a little more access there gets you a long way. I got the above shot by playing the "big-camera-and-bag" trick and wandering up behind the start ramp during practice. Thanks to Tony the commisaire for the chat and understanding when I was eventually asked for my pass ;o)
For the race and course proper most of the outsides of the corners are taped off (for safety I assume) preventing access to shots of the riders riding into the corner, this is where a pass would help. To be honest, I'm not really happy with the results I got from the 4X as I seemed to have shot a lot but don't want to keep too many. Mostly this was because of crappy lighting and a lack of attention to detail: both my own fault incidentely as there there was a flash in my bag! Annoying but a worthy reminder that shooting loads doesn't always make for more good shots.
For the finals on Sunday I forced a much more relaxed approach. Instead of trying to get all the way down the hill and shoot at every corner, I spent some time at a select few spots. I also got the flashes out that I should've been using the night before!
I used 2 off camera 580ex's at either side of the track to get some light onto the front of the riders. (Being careful obviously not to position lights directly in line of sight for riders coming round the corner) I also dropped the metered exposure by ~1 stop to help the riders stand out more. Unfortunatley it doesn't help get rid of other spectators and filmers in the background of some of the (typically) better action shots.
This is a great event and it's not often you get access to the best riders in the world to hone your camera skills. I've been taking photos at this event for the past 4 years now and it's an interesting gauge to how my photography has progressed over that time. Here's a sample of the DH racing from each year (there was no XC racing this year). In my opinion things've definitely gotten tighter and I know I'm doing a lot less cropping of shots to get more frame filling shots. The addition of remote flashes and (still) learning the subtleties of getting off camera lighting working is making a massive difference too.
2008 flickr set
2007 flickr set
2006 flickr set
2005 flickr set