« on: October 14, 2013, 01:19:00 PM »
For individual athlete shots, choose your backgrounds carefully. Get rid of distracting elements in the photo. Often this means moving to less populated areas of the course.
Use the 17-55 at 17mm from a really low angle to make the runners look like super heros.
Use the 200mm f2.8 on high speed with ai servo. Shoot sequences of 3-5 shots and you will have one with peak action...both feet off the ground or otherwise. Also, when shooting women, you'll want the series so that you can select the shot where "everything" is NOT moving south. No woman wants to see shots of her cheeks and other parts sagging toward the ground. Men don't either, but it's less obvious.
Try some panning shots with the 100mm if you can get the distance. I've tried them with the 17-55 when I had that lens, but the focal length is too short to get much movement in the frame. 200mm works even better, but you'll need a heck of a lot of space on a crop sensor camera to get the shots.
If you have remote flash capability, try shots with the sun behind the runner coming over one shoulder and light from the opposite side on their front. These are fantastic shots and will separate you from the run of the mill.
Polarizers are your friend in snow, sand, and other bright light. In early dim light, though...you'll struggle to freeze action with the lost shutter speeds. It's a balance.
Back to the background...even with the 200mm, you'll want to find ways to incorporate elements of the race course to make it recognizable for the athletes. A memorable turn, or open expanse cresting a hill with spectacular view...something. Give the viewer a clue to the action besides just the runner if at all possible. Sometimes you can't do that, like in industrial areas along some run courses. In those, I just try to set up so the background is well off the runner in order to melt it away.
Unless I just can't avoid it, I never take shots of runners from a standing position equal to the runner. Those are almost universally boring and usually end up with background or other issues. My style usually is from the ground, trying to get the runner's head(s) above the horizon. Super hero. Everyone wants to feel like one when they are doing something like that.