Two more test events

Last week saw two more test events running, the White Water canoeing from Lee Valley White Water Centre and the Mountain Biking from Hadleigh Farm in Essex. Once again both events were a roaring success with things shaping up nicely for next year’s Summer Games.

Both events took place under blue sky and skyrocketing temperatures, and I must say I would gladly have thrown myself into the artificial river at Lee Valley, although had I done so I would probably have been writing this from my hospital bed! When they say wild water they really do mean wild water.

Jan Benzien (GER), Mens C1 Class,  Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Abbey, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Jan Benzien (GER), Mens C1 Class, Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Abbey, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3, AFs zoom Nikor 200-400mm VR set at 400mm with VR off,
mounted on Gitzo carbon fibre monopod, $ 1/1600th @ f5.6 (set manually), ISO 320

Having shot almost exclusively wildlife photos for the past 18 months I am now beginning to get back into the swing of sports shooting, and my timing is beginning to hit the mark again. The canoeing was a particular problem with so much spray making both focussing and exposure very difficult. Finally I decided to meter manually and focus with autofocus, trying as far as possible to keep the focus spot on the face. To get my metering spot on I tried several exposures and checked the histogram after each until I had it right – only took around three tries before I had it nailed. If you try to leave your metering on any auto mode you are going to have the a huge number of over or under exposed images as the amount of bright white spray varies so much for each shot. Don’t forget to check the sun doesn’t go in from when you made your first exposure!

To freeze the water in a shot like above it’s necessary to get a shutter speed close to 1/2000 sec.

As a photographer this is a high concentration sport as even though you may remain in one place every competitor’s route will be slightly different and the reaction of the water also varies. You need to watch closely for the height of the action an react very quickly.

Denis Gargaud Chanut (FRA), Mens C1 Class, Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Abbey, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Denis Gargaud Chanut (FRA), Mens C1 Class, Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Abbey, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3, AFs zoom Nikor 200-400mm VR set at 2200mm with VR, 
mounted on Gitzo carbon fibre monopod, @ 1/2000th @ f5.6 (set manually), ISO 200

Not all images have to be shot as action stoppers – take a look at the photo below shot with a much slower shutter speed.

Slow shutter speed for K1 canoeist.

Nikon D3, AFs zoom Nikor 200-400mm VR set at 400 mm with VR  
mounted on Gitzo carbon fibre monopod, 1/20th @ f32 (set manually), ISO 200

The K2 event makes it’s own challenges as there is some distance between the front and rear paddler. Careful attention to focussing is therefore necessary.

Marcus Becker and Stefan Henze (GER), Mens C2 Class, Olympic Test Event, Lee Valley, White Water Centre

Marcus Becker and Stefan Henze (GER), Mens C2 Class, Olympic Test Event, Lee Valley, White Water Centre

Nikon D3, AFs zoom Nikor 200-400mm VR set at 2800mm with VR off, 
mounted on Gitzo carbon fibre monopod, 1/2000th @ f5.6 (set manually), ISO 320

The mountain biking venue is set in the heart of Essex (name any mountain in Essex??) This si of course an artificially made course but is nonetheless one of the world’s most challenging. Not so for Olympic Gold Medallist from athens and Beijing, Frenchman Julian Absalon who led the men’s event from start to finish, demolishing a world class field and finally coming home almost 90 seconds before his nearest rival.

Julien Absalon (FRA), Olympic Test Event,  Hadleigh Farm Mountain Bike Centre, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn (Peter Llewellyn/Peter Llewellyn Photography)

Nikon D3, AFs zoom Nikor 24 – 70mm, 2.8 VR set at 62mm hand held, 1/1000th @ f6.3 (aperture priority automatic), ISO 250

Below is another slow shutter speed shot. It’s very difficult to impart the speed with which these riders negotiate the course when using action stopping shutter speeds. everything, including the wheels get’s frozen in time and it can almost look like the biker is completely still if you are not careful.

Mountain bike Olympic Test Event

Nikon D3, AFs zoom Nikor 80-200 mm, 2.8  set at 80 mm hand held, 1/20th @ f16 (aperture priority automatic), ISO 200

Today I arrive in Weymouth to oversee the photography for the sailing test event that runs for the next 10 days, although I will only be here for the first four, then it;’s off to the Badminton world Championships in Wembley Arena. Hoping to get e little more shooting done along the way so watch for further posts.