Learning to Capture Better Action Photographs While Supporting The MS Society of Canada

  By RurikTullio

My name is Rurik and I am a volunteer photographer. I have been photographing the Johnson MS Bike Tour since 2010. As a photographer I always consider these events as a great opportunity to practice my action and portrait photography skills.

The Johnson MS Bike Tour is a charitable cycling event that gathered over 590 cyclists this year for a 160km journey from Airdrie to Olds (round trip) in two days to raise funds for the MS Society of Canada. Riders of all ages challenged the harsh headwinds, light (and cold) rain, and lots of hills. Volunteers were on-hand to help cyclists at many rest stops to provide fruit, refreshments as well as motivation to keep going. At the end of the first day the riders gathered together for a well-deserved dinner, enjoyed a band and saw photos from all photographers projected on a big screen to remember some good moments, and their hard work.

This year The Camera Store sponsored the ride by providing equipment from their rental department  so that I could shoot high-resolution photographs that will be used promote the event in the future. The equipment I used included:

·       Full frame camera (Canon 5D Mark III)

·       Wide angle lens (Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II)

·       Telephoto lens (Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II)

·       Dedicated camera flash (Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT)

·       Sturdy tripod (Manfrotto)

There were a few lessons I learned while shooting that weekend:

·       Talk to people: with so many people around, it is amazing how many great shots you can get from them once you break the ice and establish a little bridge. It works even better when you add some context around them that represents who they are or what they do.

·       Panning: this is a great resource for action photos. When you find the right shutter speed to freeze the rider as the main subject and blurring everything else, you introduce the movement effect in the image. Using a tripod makes it even easier to avoid vertical movement of the camera.

·       Longer exposure: this technique is often used for night photography. But, it can also be used under daylight to add the sense of movement to the pictures. If the light is too bright and both ISO and aperture are at max, then some neutral density filters can do the trick. A tripod is also a good option here depending on how long the exposure is.

·       Different angles: finding new angles is one of the best tricks. Avoid the common angle at the same height of everyone’s eyes. Lay down on the ground to get the photo from the bottom. It makes everyone look “bigger.” Or take a shot from the top to frame the crowd.

·       Flash or no flash:  when you shoot outdoors, the flash can be a good option to fill dark areas under the shade when the sunlight is too hard. For example, when the helmet creates shade on the cyclist’s face. However, the flash can create unintended shade as well and make the photo a little artificial.

I would like to thank The Camera Store for providing the equipment this year and also the MS Society Calgary and Area Chapter for offering a great environment and structure to take the photos.

At the end of the ride, over $580K was raised to support research into the cause and cure of multiple sclerosis and provide care to those who need it.

– Rurik Tullio
Find me on Instagram: @ruriktullio