Last weekend saw Sports-alive shooting CycloCross (CX) at Sparsholt College, near Winchester. It was the fifth race in the Wessex CX league, and it was an excellent day for photographing this type of event. The ground was dry, the sun was out and a large proportion of the course was in open areas that would enable the use of natural light rather than in the depths of the woods. The location of the college with fields surrounding the course also gave the opportunity to have some decent backgrounds to some of the shots.
The very nature of CX racing and cycle sport, in general, is that the course is open and accessible to the general public, which beings out photographers both Pro and Amateur in their droves. What other sport allows you access to the athletes without a huge accreditation process, and the ability to get close to that action as well. Too close in the case of some of the Grand Tours.
We thought this was a good opportunity to give out a few tips on how to approach photographing CX and to start getting the quality of images that Sports-alive produce on a regular basis.
1. Close or Wide view. Everybody has their own opinion of what is a great shot. A wide shot, which puts the rider in context with his surroundings has its value. It might show the lead the rider has or the beauty of that particular course. In CX, it might also show lots of tape, and a couple of spectators in clashing anoraks. A tight shot, or close up may be very powerful. It can show the emotion, the grit and mental toughness required to compete in CX
2. Lighting is tough. Sunday had a nice big single light source to use, and the course suited the use of natural light. But the sun changes during the day, so it’s essential to adapt and modify your approach as the sun traverses. It can create better shots or more interesting shadows. The use of a flash to just “pop” the shadows is often essential. Used on Manual, it should just have enough power to raise the shadows, but not enough to wipe out the natural contrast. If you’re in the woods, then using an Off-camera flash (OCF) is a useful technique – but you have to be pretty careful not to distract or blind the riders. Practise with a friend before trying it on a race day.
These are only ponters to getting better shots whilst photographing cycling, or sport in general. Taking these things into account will help, but the only way to really get great images is by practising, and using your own personal knowledge and expertise.
All the images from the day are here