I had the opportunity to work with a team of sports photographers to photograph the 3rd Annual Florida Beach Halfathon at Ft. Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida recently. I really like photographing these types of running, triathlon events as they present unique challenges. The first is being in kind of an "assembly line" mentality for shooting. The same subject comes by often, and for a long time. Can you stay focused shooting the same shot over and over especially after a few hours of standing outside in Florida? To do this I adapt the mindset of ever trying to perfect the shot of the runner. This keeps me focused and engaged and of course always trying to produce better photographs.
One thing that I find interesting is what the runners choose to wear, what messages are they promoting and how do they express themsleves while running, especially when they see the front of my lens approaching. The runner above was covered in St. Patrick's Day themed body paint (which was the day before).
Many runners waved or gave some kind of sign and flashed a smile when they past me, like the woman above. There were of course many more smiles on the way out than there were on the way back in!
One major shooting challenge was the fact that due to Daylight Savings Time happening the weekend before this halfathon, the race actually started well before sunrise in near complete darkness! We were not allowed to use flash either so shooting wide open at f/2.8 and maxing out ISO at 3200 still was not really enough for the first few runners. Really the problem was the auto-focus finding anyone in such darkness moving so fast, plus the exposure challenges. Slowly the sun started to rise and slowly ISO could be dropped to reasonable settings.
I enjoyed photographing this event and was surprised to be cheered on so much by the runners who often also said "thank you!" to me as they past. When I could I shot out, "thank you for running!"