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Photography Blog - Hints and Tips for Great Photographs

  1. Find the right location.- As soon as you know the actual route, find your chosen spot to take your pictures. Avoid positions that have distracting backgrounds. Visit it several times in different weather conditions, especially on bright sunny days, so you know exactly where the sun is going to be at the time they pass. This may cause you to change your position! Position yourself on a bend – it gives you the flexibility of getting the shots as the come towards you and as they go past – safely!

  1. Shoot on a high shutter speed to stop the action, 1/1000th of a second should do it. Also consider slower shutter speeds, such as 1/60th and follow the racers, to get a blurred background. You want to use a wide aperture to also help lose the background. Try F4 or faster.

  2. If there isn’t enough light to get these settings, increase the ISO settings until you do. A little grain in action photos can add atmosphere!

  1. Use a long lens and mount the camera on a tripod. It will give you much more stability. Don’t forget the lens hood! If your camera has the facility, set it to continuous focusing. The autofocus will track the riders as they approach, giving you one less thing to worry about.

  1. If you have a motor drive, shoot in short bursts of 3 or 4. If you shoot too many at a time, your camera buffer will soon slow you down as it writes the images to the memory card.

  1. Shoot in jpeg instead of raw. The files are a lot smaller and will write to the card much faster. (This is probably the only time I ever recommend jpeg over Raw, but you will only have a very short period of time to record the action, so get as many images as possible).

  1. The whole procession, with all the floats, sponsors etc can take over an hour to pass, don’t forget to record this to really capture the atmosphere. You will have a little more time here so focus on faces to capture the emotion of the day.

  1. Don’t forget the other spectators, they often get a bit carried away, and can give you great expressive shots.

  1. When shooting the leaders and the following pack, put a bit of space around your framing. You can always crop the shot a little later. There is nothing worse than rejecting an otherwise great shot because part of the subject is moving out of the shot ­- and don’t forget the stragglers of the pack, close ups of the anguish on their faces make great shots!

  1. If you are using a compact or bridge camera, beware of shutter lag – this is the short period of time that occurs between you pressing the button and the camera actually capturing the image. With some cameras this can be as much as a second. If this occurs on your camera, be aware and shoot ahead of the subject so when the shutter actually fires the subject is in the frame. The photo on the right of Chris Froome is less than flattering - caused by Shutter Lag. To get this close to the famous yellow jersey, and come back and see this must have been very frustrating!

  1. If your compact or bridge camera has scene modes, set it on sports or action mode for the best shutter speeds, and as most do not have lens hoods, if it is a sunny day, get the sun behind you. Shooting into the sun will fox your cameras exposure settings.

  1. Finally, this is a rare event in our area, so take as many memory cards and spare batteries as you have with you and take lots and lots of photos. Record everything you see, not just the actual racers. Professional sports photographers will often take many hundreds of images, and discard many of them, but they only need one or two great images to make the event a photographic success!

The Tour de France

Now the most prestigious multi-stage cycle race in the world, the Tour began life in 1903, and with the exception of the 2 world wars, been run every year.
2013 was the 100
th Tour.

Traditionally held in July, the route changes every year, but always passes through the Pyrenees and Alps and finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The race takes place over 23 days and covers approximately 3,200 kms (Over 2000 miles).
Stage 19 of the Tour, Friday 25
th of July, was through the Lot-et-Garonne, and passed close by going through Miramont and Eymet on its way to the stage finish in Bergerac.

Below are some hints and tips to help you get some memorable photographs of an action event, and below that you will see how we did!
The weather was horrendous, with a huge storm breaking just before the riders got to us.

For detailed information on the Tour, and any other matters cycling, click the logo on the right

Successful Music/Concert Photography

A few hints to ensure some great live concert photographs:

Firstly, if the event is in a private venue, you should get the venue's management's permission to photograph or you run the risk of their security stopping you.

Try and limit your photography to the first few songs. The people around you have paid good money to see this artist, and will get pretty uptight if you keep sticking a lens in front of them!

Shoot RAW. The lighting in many venues can be pretty extreme, and you will find it difficult to get the right colour balance. Set it on auto and correct it later.

Shoot in Shutter priority mode.

Set the speed to 1/125th of a second. If the camera's meter says their is not enough light to enable this, increase the ISO until it says that it is  OK.

Grain is all part of the mood at a concert, so if you are shooting at up to 1600 ISO, it will still capture the atmosphere.

Shoot plenty. Most concert photographers reckon on only about 10% of their shots being usable. The wide apertures and movement on stage will produce many out of focus shots!

Use spot metering to get the best exposures. Take the reading of the subjects face.

Look for unusual angles to capture the mood - and don't forget the fans.

Finally, do not use flash. You will get thrown out of the concert very quickly! Flash also will kill the atmosphere of the stage lighting and effects.

Photos taken at the monthly jam session at the Auberge du Château de Monteton. The Château is home to the annual Dordogne Jazz Summer School, held in July and August. For more information, click here.

Topics below: Photographing the Tour de France,  Tips to photograph a live music concert/event.

Digital Photography Courses, Photoshop Courses and Photoworkshops in South West France.