West Kirby is a quiet little beach town on the Wirral peninsula. Considering the vast beaches and epic marine lake it’s amazing that it hasn’t been home to a triathlon before.
On the 31st of August hundreds of competitors, friends, family and spectators descended on the lake to witness some extreme athletes put themselves through a combined course of swimming, and cycling before a run to the finish. Organised by Mersey Tri this looked like a huge turnout for a first event.
I had been invited by a personal trainer friend of mine to from Elite Fitness photograph the event with the intention of providing stills for his athletes. Upon arrival I knew I had a problem, more specifically the monster lens of an events photographer peeking out from behind a high-viz jacket.
As good as my photos will be, if they already have it covered for the whole event I’m just overkill. So do I stay to watch strangers get wet, then disappear on bikes before retuning to disappear again on foot or do I turn around and go straight back to bed (considering that it’s now 7:15 on a Sunday morning)?
Or… do I make the best of it, put down the rapid fire D700 and see if I can make a film with zero preparation, zero planning and only the kit I have for stills photography?
Never one to waste an opportunity I grabbed the D800 with the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 for a shallow depth of field, the 16-35 f4 for it’s super wide angle and a sturdy tripod and set to it.
An event like a triathlon poses certain challenges to a lone cameraman. Unable to film more than one angle at once I had to pick my shots pretty carefully on the fly. Fortunately there were three waves of athletes that provided some opportunity to move and reset the camera during the action and with the kind assistance of a driver from Checkpoint motor stores I was able to follow the cycling action whilst hanging out of the window of a VW Polo. This was a real test for the active VR of the 70-200 and obviously an area which requires practice.
The film is shot in 1080p at 30fps so full screen viewing is recommended. It was cut in Premiere Pro and graded with Adobe Speedgrade before titles were added in After Effects.
If you enjoy the video (or not) leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think. If you have any questions about how this was made or you have an event coming up and want a film for yourself just get in touch.