Oct 16, 2010

Cross Country is fun (and exhausting)

I made it over to Samuell Farm in Mesquite for a high school cross country race this morning. While I don't know how this spot rates for runners, it was a lot of fun as a photographer. It was a big meet with lots of schools present, and the weather was perfect.

If anybody wants to know how I approach finding photo spots and the thought process for that, here is a quick run-through of the event.

Initially, I went to the starting line. Cross country starts are boring affairs, and this one had a freeway for a background. A little slow shutter panning made the photos look as jumbled as the real thing... this is 1/25 of a second.
Even with intentionally blurry shots, you need a focal point that is sharp. I was tracking the ladies from Rockwall Heath in the red uniforms.

I was happy to see Marcos Quintana and Andre Leighton shooting the event. They were helpful in showing me around the course a bit, thanks guys.

Closer to the finish, there were a series of loops that went out and came back to the middle of the property, giving opportunities to catch the runners at several spots without too much trouble.

First up, the runners coming into the nice early morning light... but terribly busy background with all of the team tents.

Looking left from there a nice old barn with a Texas flag had possibilities as a nice background, but it put the runners in spotty shade from trees. I like a few of the shots, but the lighting was just too inconsistent.

Shooting from closer to the course, the runners went through a nice bright spot with a shady tree background which I liked too, but it was hit or miss for runners getting into the light and me catching them there...

Just across the course, there was a low area that gave a good visual perspective without laying on the ground. From one angle, it was the runners coming around a corner and into the sunlight

And another angle looked through some trees, again with nice light. Just need to work on timing the runners in a good spot with more sky or something.

The finish was close by, and that is the place to go to get the emotional / drained / exhausted photos. I did not take any of those. Instead, I tried some slow-shutter stuff as the runners sprinted to the end. Next time I may spend time trying to catch the exhaustion in pictures.

The final races had no Terrell runners, so I started to wander around. At the far end of the course was a pond that the runners were going around. Reflections on the pond? Well, not exactly. The runners were on the pond dam about five feet above the water line. I still like the idea, but I could not get it to look like the picture in my head.


Meanwhile, that also placed the runners right above me as they went by (with some strange looks). I wonder if the yellow weed flowers are producing the pollen that is killing my head?

On the way out of there, I saw a red barn that seemed like a good background prop. It probably could have been too, but the runners were facing out of the sun by this point. Also, it was the last race and I was getting tired and hungry, so maybe next time.


OK, so... find good light and nice backgrounds and the photos make themselves (sort of)...

Have a great week everybody,

Don J

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