Shooting the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal

The Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal is only at its second season and now part of the UCI WorldTour, which organizes the world’s top road bicycle races.

With many of the world’s top riders competing in teams from the Tour de France, the 2011 race was a must event for my buddy who loves bike racing and I who loves photographing.

I ended taking LOTS of pics, over 500 for a 5 hour race. I managed to trim it down to 155, still too much my wife would say :-).

Of these 155, it still required lots of cropping in order to find the picture within the picture.

Of the rejected pics, lots of them had back focus or  from focus issues.

With only 9 focus points the D90 struggles at finding the right one at the right time while shooting high speed. Now I know what the difference between is between a D90 and a true pro body like the D3: the processor and the internal buffer could not keep up with the rapid fire shooting required to follow a race.

The good side of things is that panning worked, well, it had to with so many attemts that some of them did have to come out right!

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And even when panning did not work, some pictures still tell a story – the one that these guys ride faaast…

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As with most photo shoots, detail photos are great, maybe the best of them.

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If you want to catch you favorite athlete, before the race is the best time and place as with the tour’s #1 racer Philippe Gilbert from Belgium and the hometown hero Dominique Rollin, running for the FDJ team.

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Prior to the race, I quickly googled videos on how to shoot a race. This video provided me with two valuable tips for best locations: in curvy down slopes and at the top of a sharp climb.

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Other things that worked well for me was, for example, isolating a racer in the peloton.

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As with rule #2, filling the frame also provides good results.

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Although often used by others, creating more movement with angled composition, is one of my signature compositions if I may say, it is fun too.

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The race lasts 17 laps, so you get to notice patterns like TV helicopter overhead announcing the arrival of the racers – your cue to quickly scout your location. Another one of them: the ambulance which closes the march on racers and marks that the road is now safe for pedestrian and the hazardous photograph (me!) taking this picture:

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Of the many things that did not turn out like I wanted, one of them was that I am still trying to figure out how to use fill flash. Darn. Thanks to RAW shooting, I can still do some post processing on those hard to get shots.

I had brought my Sigma 150-500 OS. Did not use it. Will not bring it back.

Oh and yes, next time LOTS more water. After 5 hours of walking I had a cramp, much akin to the days (and the days after) when I would run marathons.

What a great day it was. I can’t wait for next year.

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6 Responses to Shooting the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. Paul-André Côté says:

    Bonjour Max!! De très belles photos!! Félicitations.

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