Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jeff Cup, 03.29.2009

Getting ready for Jeff Cup this Sunday, one of my favorite cycling races.  Early season, scenic, can be nasty (snow in 2008).  Weather looks okay this year ... mild, maybe light rain. Nate racing Pro/1/2/3 (as a 2).  Avery is in Cat 4.  Bunch of juniors will launch.  Coach Sue will join.  Rented Canon 300 F4L, which proved out at last Trade Zone.  2009 Jeff Cup images posted here.  (2008 pics here ... 2007 pics here.)

Light was overcast, some drizzle in morning, then sunny in afternoon.  Another pretty mellow day -- after normal churn helping NCVC U19 squad launch.  Juniors picked-up three podiums in their age groups, and my sons ran well in 1/2/3 race (until stiff pothole cracked stem and carbon wheels) and Cat 4 race (Avery's first).  

Ran 711 images.  Working with a little more critical eye, will post about 200.  Canon 300 mm proved out about as expected, though image quality/focus hunting was not as good as prior effort at Trade Zone ... maybe user defect (not enough coffee) or weaker light.  300 mm depth of field is a little shallow for bike race, so I'm tending to move back to the 70-200 F4L as lens-of-choice for bike races (Carolyn cheers ... no new 'investment').  Also, I miss the zoom for doing walkabout candid shots and broader landscapes.

May take 1.4X teleconverter to Ephrata or Bike Jam to see how that works ... more reach, easier framing (and cheaper).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trade Zone, 3.15.2009

Rented Canon 300 mm F4L I/S lens from Penn Camera (Tyson's), $35/day, for try-out shots at Trade Zone training races.  (Images posted here.)  I usually shoot 70-200 F4L zoom.  I like the zoom because I can do more variety -- e.g., close-up people shots, candids, mild panorama.  That said, the 300 was something else.  Amazing sharpness, gorgeous color (despite drizzle).

Grey, misty, about 45 degrees.  Shot at ISO 800, action shots 1/1250 or 1/1000, candids less (1/400 +/-).  Lens wasn't too heavy, handheld just fine.  Good reach into race action.  Nice bokeh (softness behind shallow depth of field).  Left about halfway through the 'A' (fastest) race; rain become more steady, didn't want to gum the lens.  The rental lens improves outcomes, but at $1240, I'm not ready for kitchen point deficit.

Follow-up note:  Used 300 mm with IS mode 2 (panning).  Will try it next with IS turned off to improve focusing speed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trade Zone, 3.8.2009

Mellow training race at Trade Zone industrial park, Upper Marlboro, MD.  Sunday morning, about 50 degrees.  Cloudy sky and pretty good light.  Shot about 150 images, posted about 50 here ... Nothing awesome, but good early season warm-up. Action shots @ ISO 400, 1/1250 ... person/dog shots at 1/400.  Camera (Canon 5D) shows itself best as a portrait camera, okay for sports.  Shooting with 70-200 F4L, nice glass, but considering working with 300 F4L, for more reach, increased sharpness, perhaps faster focusing.

My 14 year-old son Avery raced great, powering up front in Men's C race.  Midway through, I observed a crash.  My friend -- another junior parent -- went over a downed cyclist and flipped about 5 feet up in the air.  Came down hard on her left shoulder.  I put down camera and slipped on blue EMT gloves.  Performed rapid trauma assessment.  Acute L shoulder pain.  Stabilized.  X-rays later showed fractured clavicle and pinky.

Trade Zone again next Sunday, 3.15.2009.  First big show is Jeff Cup, near Monticello, on March 29.  A favorite venue.