At the Velodrome

_DS83748Last Friday my son very kindly bought a ticket for me to go with him to the Good Friday Meeting at the Velodrome in London’s Olympic Park.

It was a superb afternoon’s racing in a very special arena – the scene of so much success for British cycling at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Naturally the camera went with me. The last time I photographed anything that was travelling fast on wheels would have been in the 1970s. And that is a very long time ago, and in those days I was using a totally manual camera with a 400mm Hanimex lens that looked a bit like a telescope.

Before setting off I re-read the manual to ensure I could set the auto-focus correctly to be able to track the cyclists at speed. And once there I was amazed at how fast they sped round the arena.

_DS83759There was a very steep learning curve. I was using my 18-250mm zoom as usual on a DX Nikon body so effectively the lens range was 27-375mm film equivalent. Tracking was difficult and getting sharp images of the racers while panning was initially very hit and miss. Additionally checking results was not easy as I have reached the age when I cannot confirm if images are sharp on the back screen without fumbling for my glasses.

What surprised me most perhaps was the fact that to get to the shutter speeds I needed to freeze the action I had to ramp up the ISO to 4000. For example the image at the top of this post was shot at F6.3 – the widest aperture for the lens – speed:1/350 sec, lens at 375mm, and ISO 4000. I don’t think I’ve ever used such a high ISO setting before. It’s a measure of how fast digital imaging has progressed in the past few years that the resulting images still had low levels of noise, and noise that was present was easily reduced in Topaz De-Noise.

I shot about 200 images, two-thirds of those went in the Trash at the first view back home, but there are some that I am quite pleased with and the gallery below shows a selection.

Many thanks Richard for a great day out, we must do it again sometime.

And of course my eye strayed from the action and caught a few unrelated shots – click here to see an example.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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15 Responses to At the Velodrome

  1. shoreacres says:

    I’m not a cycling fan, per se, but I really appreciated seeing these images, and reading your accompanying notes. One reason I swallowed hard and bought a 70-300mm lens was to capture birds. Since motion is motion, what you say makes sense to me, and is helpful.

    Your note about ISO reminded me of the day I finally figured out that a fast shutter speed reduces the amount of light entering the camera. Of course, that’s basic. But reading it in a book, and finally understanding it in practice, are two quite different things.

    And didn’t I smile at that initial sorting you mentioned! At least I’ve moved beyond the point where I have piles of under-or-over-exposed images to dump.

    • LensScaper says:

      Photography is a constant learning curve isn’t it Linda. You think you have it all figured and then along comes something new to resolve or learn how to do. This was a fun day out which I really enjoyed for the pleasure of being in this arena that I had watched eagerly on the TV during the Olympics, and also for the challenge of shooting this sport. Reading the ‘book’ aka camera manual often makes certain things sound so easy but when you try them out in practice you find they are not easy at all. Bikes and cars move round on tracks, birds don’t – they zig and zag and are even harder to catch then a bike on a predictable route. Good luck with the shooting.

  2. hmunro says:

    Congratulations on a superb set of images — especially considering that you shoot them indoors. Like shoreacres, I’m not really a huge fan of cycling but your shots gave me a new appreciation for the sport. (And for your skill, for that matter!) Nicely done.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank you so much Heather. I’ve been a keen fan of the Tour de France for quite some time, and got caught up in the huge success of our cycling in the track events in the Velodrome in 2012. I tried to get tickets in the ballot but failed. It was a real treat to be in the arena for an afternoon, my son has done quite a bit of mountain biking over the years. The whole Olympic Park is a huge area and I’ll be back there with a camera before too long.

      • hmunro says:

        Your photos are all the more meaningful knowing your back story! I’m so glad you were finally able to go — and especially that you were able to share the experience with your son.

        • LensScaper says:

          Thanks again Heather. it’s great to be able to do things with one’s children as they grow up and when they are adult. Richard and I have skied, climbed, trekked and mountain biked together, and I should add that the same applies to my daughter Sophie. We share so many interests including photography and that makes life so much richer for all of us.

  3. Chillbrook says:

    I love cycling! Before MS I cycled miles, every week and loved the sport. These images are superb and how right your are Andy, high ISO no longer means a sandstorm of a photo. It may have been a steep learning curve but you were clearly able to hone your technique!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for those kind words Adrian – but I’m very much a beginner with Action photography. You realize how hard Sports Photographers have to work to get the superb images they find on a daily basis.

  4. sixpixx says:

    Exciting shots. And, the favourite sport in this house. We didn’t get any Olympic tickets but we did go up and watch the road races a couple of years ago. Much appreciate your blog as we now have a fantastic indoor skate park and I’m finding the tracking bit tricky. Thank you for sharing.

  5. This is so cool, Andy! I love shooting cars and know personally how difficult it is to capture tack sharp images of fast moving things as you have done here. What a great set, I truly enjoyed the entire collection!!

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