By Aaliyah Ward
As mentioned in our previous post on the best destinations for cycling in Europe, the continent is packed with tons of enthralling and breath-taking cycling routes. Regions such as Bordeaux, Vienna, Paris, Utrecht and Berlin are beautiful, and it would be a waste to cycle through these routes without memorialising them in photographs. However, taking action shots in these gorgeous places can be quite a challenge, especially if you are new to photography. To help you get the best shots once everything happening in the world dies down, and travelling is once again permitted, we’ve listed some tips that can help you take amazing cycling photographs:
Invest in a manual camera
One of the most common misconceptions surrounding photography is that you need a high-end camera to take amazing shots. However, long-time photographer and author Peter Read Miller explained that a good camera doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. In fact, you can get a good quality point and shoot camera with manual controls and a good zoom for as little as €180. In choosing a manual camera, get one that has at least a 20X zoom, as this will allow you to get that nice close-up shot of cyclists. Of course, if you have the budget, you can always buy an entry-level DSLR with an optical viewfinder, bigger sensors and interchangeable lenses.
Use burst mode
To avoid missing the key moments, finding a quality camera with fast shutter speeds and a burst feature is key. There are lots of cameras ideal for action photography but skill and timing play an essential role when it comes to capturing that perfect shot, too. To help you along, they explain how the burst mode feature can help you take multiple photos of a subject within a span of a second or less, all by pushing the shutter button once. For instance, if capturing the end of a cycling race, you can select the best frame of that photo finish and delete the rest. However, the problem with using burst mode all the time is that it can take up some storage, so to make sure that you can continue using burst mode to the fullest, consider investing in a reliable memory card that has a large capacity and can be used to transfer data quickly and effectively.
Don’t miss the action
With how advanced technology is nowadays, even smartphones have impressive camera features such as ultra-wide photography, astrophotography mode and varying focal lengths that offer depth and dynamic range. Sadly, no matter how amazing these specs might be, they don’t eliminate the delay between the pressing of the shutter and the actual picture taking. If you are one of those photographers who use a smartphone — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that — the key to taking the best cycling photo is anticipating the action. When taking a photo, factor in the delay and try pressing the shutter a few seconds earlier. For instance, during a race, when you want to capture the moment when one cyclist outruns the other, position your camera and press the shutter before it actually happens. As photographer Phil Hall explained to Tech Radar, knowing and understanding your sport is essential to being able to take good photos of athletes in action. You need to know when the action is about to take place to be able to capture it.
Play around with shutter speed
The biggest challenge to taking action photos is capturing a standstill moment from a fast-paced activity such as cycling races. Fortunately, once you’ve got an understanding of shutter speed, you can easily overcome this road bump. In order to freeze human motion, set your shutter speed to at least 1/400 seconds. Depending on the kind of sport, the shutter speed can go as high as 1/2000 to capture even faster actions such as bike movements, water droplets or balls in play. On the other hand, if you want to take an action photo that focuses on illustrating a certain movement, set your shutter speed to as low as one second to capture trails while retaining detail.
As with any other activity, it’s impossible to be good at photography right from the very beginning. Aside from investing in a manual camera, anticipating action, using burst mode and playing around with shutter speed, the key to taking amazing cycling photographs is consistent practise. Take photos as often as you can, experiment at all times and find subjects that you will never grow tired of capturing.