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.
There 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.