When shooting a sport like bicycle road racing it pays to know the course and plan your shots.
I’ve shot the Tour de Grandview Cycling Classic each June for a number of years so I know the hilly, curvy course very well. I’ve used a variety of lenses – from wide-angles to get the bikes whizzing past me on a turn to telephoto zooms for longer-range shots – but for the 2010 race I decided to haul my 600mm to the course in hopes of getting this exact photo.
There’s a spot on the course where the bikers come over a slight rise before quickly dropping down a steep hill and making a sharp right turn. I thought the distance from the turn to the crest of the hill was about right to get a tight group shot with the 600mm.
I positioned myself at the base of the hill and prepared to shoot as the bikers came over the crest on each lap. The peloton was single file the first three laps, but I decided to give it one more chance before moving to another location. On the fourth lap the peloton had formed into a tight pack. I focused on the lead rider and fired off a couple of frames before the bikers dropped down the hill and around the turn.
The photo is a direct result of planning and patience.
About the photographer
I’m a photo hobbyist who lives in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. I typically spend several mornings each week in the woods of local parks, photographing birds and other wildlife. I also enjoy shooting sporting events and photographing different cities when I travel around the country.
I began doing photography in the pre-digital, pre-autofocus, pre-Internet 1970s. I had a color darkroom in the basement of our house in our hometown, Ashland, Ky., and on occasion would shoot for the newspaper where I worked first as a sports writer, then as city editor. But I put the camera away in the 1980s after burning out from too many of those "hey can you" photo jobs – “hey can you shoot my son's Little League team," or "hey can you shoot my daughter's wedding." I reached the point where I dreaded picking up the camera.
After taking a vacation from photography for more than 20 years, I was using my daughter’s point-and-shoot digital camera to get some photos of her first college tennis match in fall 2004 (she played four years at the University of Akron) and realized how much I missed photography. After doing the “Nikon or Canon” research, I bought a Canon digital SLR, started adding lenses – that’s my Canon 600 f/4L, the lens I use for wildlife and some sports photography, in the photo above – and have been shooting ever since.