After 2 decades on the web, and most of that digital, it’s very satisfying to author a photography print piece with bike-racing action photos for Digital Photo Pro magazine. The photos in the article were shot in Vegas, and capture Sven Nys (former world champion and a star of the sport), and the story is about traveling light, a topic I’ve been blogging on Bike Hugger for years, ever since the first Macbook Air. The story was about being on the road and, “Thanks to a well-packed bag full of the right gear, I was able to capture, ingest and transmit images on location without missing a beat or hunting for a cable.”
The camera I shot with wasn’t part of the story, but it was a Sony A7R at night and with unpredictable subjects, under stadium lights with dust clouds. Getting those shots took lots of patience, over a year working the camera, and really pushing the 1st-generation to the limit. For the high-rez images, view this gallery on our Flickr page, starting here.
As I shared last month, I’ve got a Mark II in on demo (via our B&H partnership ) and the improvements in focus tracking is noticeable; especially, the face tracking. As you can imagine, 90% of the shots from the race were blurry and unusable, but the handful I got landed the DPP story, and followed what David J. Schloss taught me a few years ago:
Find where the photogs are with the long lenses, and go somewhere else to get your shot; especially when all you brought is a compact camera with a 55/f1.8.
And also what Martin Gisborne shared:
Be first… or be different. If everyone is there with long lenses then, sure, go with a super wide… if a scene is coated in photographers then find something else.. look for things no one else is looking at. If you’re being paid to get some ‘thing’ then get it, then look for something else, something different, something no one else might be looking for.
What I was looking for was the skill in the sand. In the sport of Cyclocross, (like a steeplechase, but with bikes) the Belgians are known for the abilities in the sand and Sven, a Belgian, showed his. As I wrote about the race:
The high winds that swept across the Las Vegas Valley whipped up the dust from the course’s sandpit into a dirty, gritty froth every few seconds, as another set of racers attacked the section. Here’s Sven Nys, the old world champ taking his turn driving the pace, and his career at 39 after a massive attack by Wout Van Aert, the eventual winner who took his first World Cup at 21.
The two escaped a dwindling pack together on lap 5 in what resembled a time-trial effort on the energy-sapping grass. On the course, the sandpit offered the most drama, as the racers punched the pedals opening their legs up from the grind of the dried sod.
Filling an SD card with photos and before inserting another, I worried too if the dust was getting into the body of the camera, but since that night, no issues (knock on wood). What I was also happy with is how close I got to Sven and the racers with him, pushed up against the course tape, he was an arms length away. I doubt I would’ve got that close or the intimate shots with a big zoom…..
Read more about Sven and Cross Vegas in issue 28 of Bike Hugger magazine and the November issue of Digital Photo Pro is on the newsstands now at a Barnes and Noble near you, delivered to your home or office too. Also, on the web and iTunes. For those readers interested in bikes and racing, that bright green bike in the photos is a Trek Boone.
My daily shooter is Sony a9 II with a vertical grip and various Sigma lenses attached like the 14mm 1.4 Art. Find more gear recommendations in our shop. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.