Irish Mountain
Running Association

Race photography - Advice thread

Mick HanneyJul 1 2021, 6:17pmHi,
Theres many a good photo up there from IMRA races, including some great ones from Brockagh last night. Looking for advice from those who know better.
With my old Nikon SLR, I've probably taken more bad photos than good, particularly when it comes to runners in action IMRA races :-)
I have a talent for taking blurry pics!
What set-up helps make a good photo?
Eoin KellyJul 28 2021, 9:38amIn general when trying to capture sharp images of moving objects you need a decent shutter speed. Depending on the light available this might mean high ISO and/or large aperture. Larger aperture brings its own issues with shallow depth of field so focus is critical or the runner will have moved out of the field of focus before you have captured the image.

One of the things that i used to do when capturing triathlons in the past with a camera with not so fast auto focus speed was select an object in the field of view that wasn't moving and focus on that, then switch to manual focus. Then when the subject came into view i would wait till they were very close to the object and snap the pic in manual focus. Worked most of the time.

I would suggest using shutter priority mode on an slr, selecting 1/250th or higher shutter speed and let the camera work out aperture and ISO depending on the conditions. Then use the manual focus on a predetermined point method or if your camera has it, the only take the picture when the subject is in focus mode - on my pentax this is called 'catch in focus' or something like that. The DIY manual version of prefocused on a specific point is pretty fool proof if you are staying in one place and trying to capture the runners at the same spot.
Pól Ó MurchúJul 28 2021, 10:54amWhere do I find the shutter speed, iso and aperture on my iPhone?
Eoin KellyJul 28 2021, 11:32amNot sure on an i-product Pól, they are way out of my price range ;-)
Andrew MendelsonJul 28 2021, 2:21pmNot sure if Pol is being serious or tongue in cheek, but you can control inter alia shutter speed and ISO manually with the excellent Camera+ app.
Greg ByrneJul 28 2021, 10:00pmProbably a few levels of 'tricks' you could try Mick.

Easy stuff for any camera or phone
1. Try using burst mode and select the best one to keep
2. Avoid taking photos in trees
3. choose sections where runners are moving uphill (& slower)
4. try to keep the sun coming over your shoulder, thus illuminating the runner
5. walk back through the field so you don't have to turn around and think about the set-up quickly
6. if its dark and raining... enter the race, go for a run

Harder "fun" Stuff using SLR manual settings
a. try to keep the iso low to avoid grainy photos 200-800 if possible
b. adjust the shutter speed to get max aperture on lens (f number)
c. set focus to spot and point at the race number - same can work for light sensor if the option is available
d. try using lightroom or similar software - handy for improving underexposed photos
e. get a fancy telephoto lens with a low f number...

Cheaty stuff
Ask Joh Shiels to set-up your camera on the start line ;-)
Mick HanneyJul 29 2021, 10:07amGreat recommendations Greg, thanks.