This was my second time photographing a running event. The first time was just last October and it was a bit of a disaster. I studied and studied how to approach the subject, I rode my bike around the race course a few days ahead of time and I thought I was prepared, but I was not.
Getting a camera to focus on a runner is not easy. My camera auto-focus was all over the place, focusing on flying arms and legs, focusing on things in the background, anything but focus on the runners face. Three runners got past me before I managed to get one shot that was in focus. Manual focus was not an option because I was using my zoom with a small focus wheel and the subjects were moving fast.
This time was different. This time I set my camera on a single focus point that I felt should line up with a runners face with my camera in the portrait position. I also used a battery grip to make it easy to do so much shooting in portrait mode. My battery grip also has a button and a dial for moving the focus point around.
Every shot of every runner was in perfect focus today.
The front runners were spread out so I had time to change my position enough to give every runner a different background. I also had the foresight to photograph every single runner as they passed me at the start of the race. I did that so I could have an easier time matching runners clothing to their bib numbers later if need be. Last but not least, I took a picture of every page on the roster.
In what I felt was my best photo of the day, one of the subjects was not wearing a bib. I went through my pictures from the start of the race and then I found her wearing her bib. Her bib was on a shirt that she had shed and tied around her waist at some point during the race. If I had not been able to find her bib number in my earlier pictures and then match it to the pictures I took of the roster, I would not have gotten her name. If I had not gotten her name, I could not have submitted her picture.