London 2012: Men’s Road Race

1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, exposure bias -0.33, 300mm

Day 1 of the Games of the XXXth Olympiad – by which I mean the London 2012 Olympics – has just completed. There’s all sorts going on, most of which in the Olympic Park. However, there are a few events which are spread a little around London, notably the football which is as far flung as Cardiff and Manchester, and the sailing which is is down in my much-loved Weymouth & Portland.

The road cycling events too are pan-London; they start in the centre of the city on Pall Mall and head out through South West London to Box Hill, doing nine laps there and heading back.

They prepared for this one almost a year ago with the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, an Olympic test event designed for the organisers to learn how to deal with the execution of the competition. The bonus is it also gave me the opportunity to practise how I’d shoot such an event, so this time there were few surprises. Also like last time, I was keen on trying to get images of the spectators, because this being the London Olympics, this is as much about them.

1/3200sec, f/5.6, ISO 500, 135mm

At the test event last year Holly and I saw the race as it passed through Twickenham on the way out of London, and then walked the three miles along the Thames into Kingston to catch the cyclists as they headed back towards the finish. Today, for the men’s road race, we planned to do the same.

In Twickenham, inspired by the success of the first half of shooting the Olympic Torch Relay, I used my 70-300mm telephoto and shot down the length of a strip of road, hoping to get some closeups of the cyclists as they headed towards me – or at least, in my general direction. It wasn’t all that successful, as I didn’t arrive early enough to get myself in the front row, so there was a small amount of restriction in where I could point my camera.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, exposure bias -0.33, 300mm

Like last year, the race passed through quickly, and we headed into Kingston on foot, snapping a few shots along the way which will turn up in another post down the line. A couple of hours before the cyclists were due to pass back through, we set up camp on the corner at Kingston Bridge, near enough where we were at last time. Here I was at the front, and we were pretty close, so I used my 18-135mm.

Because I was at the front, I was able to drop down and shoot through the barrier for a lower angle. Well, when I say I shot through the barrier, I actually had the camera on the other side and stuck my arms through the gaps. It sometimes restricted my ability to see what the heck I was pointing my camera at but I got some nice, low angles on the bikes as they went past.

1/1600sec, f/5.6, ISO 640, 135mm

Not having any tickets for the Olympic events, these road races are some of the few events I can actually see in person for free. Having seen the opening ceremony yesterday, I couldn’t be more proud of my city and my country hosting these games. Hell, after attending the road race today even my wife’s hyper-cynicism about the Games has subsided a bit. It’s going to be two great weeks of sports, and I’m glad to be nearby whilst it’s all going on.

My own Olympics coverage – such that it is, I think using the work ‘coverage’ might be a bit strong – will be a bit limited, but I’m currently planning to go out and photograph the women’s road race tomorrow, and the road time trials later this week. I’m also trying to be a bit topical and get my Olympics posts out as soon as possible, hence the format of this post.

Once again, the EXIF data isn’t displaying on the gallery carousel. I have a feeling it’s something to do with the latest Aperture update. 

7 Comments

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  1. So exciting!! Thanks so much for sharing these, as well as your process for planning out your shots. Really so helpful to newbies like me!

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  2. Superb images! Really close to the action – once again I’m jealous! I’m seeing the basketball, hockey and handball over the next couple of weeks but I can guarantee my shots won’t be THAT clear! 🙂

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    • Thanks CK!

      One of the great things of the road race style events compared to the ticketed events is that you’re often closer to the action, and there are no camera restrictions (I believe there are some in the Olympic Park).

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      • The only major Park restrictions I have found are no photographic equipment over 30cm in length (tripods and the like). All in all, however, day one’s shooting was very successful! 🙂

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  3. Reblogged this on ckponderings and commented:
    Some cracking shots! 🙂 Nice work, Rob!

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