I spent a couple of hours Sunday morning in the pouring rain at my first Cyclocross event. I was there to photograph my friend Hank, an avid cyclist. I was also practicing taking photographs in inclement weather as my trip to Haines, Alaska is coming up in less than three weeks although my guess is it will be snow, not rain, that I’ll be dealing with there. And, it was a real challenge for me in the pouring rain and blowing wind so I wonder what challenges the Alaska weather will bring me.
I used my D800 and my 70-200mm lens. I brought my 24-70mm lens but left it in the car because I couldn’t see myself changing lenses in that weather. I wore my waterproof hiking boots, my rain pants over my jeans, a long sleeved pull over, a down vest, a fleece sweater, a hooded rain jacket, gloves, and a knit cap. That all kept me relatively warm and dry except that the hood kept blowing off so my knit cap and what hair stuck out got drenched. I encased the camera in a plastic rain sleeve and managed to keep the camera pretty dry. I talked to another photographer at the event who had a similar rain sleeve but he also had his speed light to get some fill flash. I wanted to use my speed light too because of the light conditions there but didn’t have a rain sleeve that would accommodate the speed light so I upped the ISO to 800 and used shutter priority with the shutter set at 1/125. The plastic rain sleeve kept getting in the way of the view finder and it was a bit awkward changing focal lengths with my gloves and the rain sleeve between me and the lens. Then there was the issue of panning. These cyclists weren’t going very fast over the sloppy mud and spongey grass but I couldn’t always get and maintain good focus on my subject. And, many of my shots didn’t show much, if any, parts of the bicycle because I was so close to the action and was zoomed in too much with the lens. Since it is probably important when photographing cyclocross to include at least part of the bicycle in the shots, I didn’t really need that long a lens.
It was such a fun event, though, that I’d like to try this again. Hank was supposed to be in two races but the weather was very uncooperative and he scratched the second race. I was glad he did because I needed to get home to cook dinner for company Sunday evening.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from Sunday morning. I changed them to black and white and edited then in On 1 Effects 10 using a black and white preset, “machinist normal” for a more gritty look. You can spot Hank with his fat tire bicycle in the photos at upper right, lower right, lower left, and 3rd from the bottom on lower right. The concentration that shows on the faces of the cyclists is an indication of the intensity of this event.