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Levi is a resident of this area and a HUGE crowd favourite. Sure, the race officials would put him as far back towards the end of the race as possible to keep the crowds longer and build the excitement. Not to mention, his race time was better than 97% of the rest of the field and THAT didn’t hurt either. LOL!
I only caught him from the vantage point of 6 floors in the sky above the track. I was fortunate to even get that with just the 70-300mm Nikkor lens – no VR, no tripod (couldn’t get it to work while I was leaning out an open window in 40 MPH gusts of wind while sheltering my camera from stray raindrops that came thru the hole I was leaning out of), and no way to see down the track to know when the 10 seconds I could see him would come. Fortunately, I had gotten a little practice with the 5 or six racers before him and was able to get the lens pre-focused somewhere in the vicinity of where I expected the rider to be.
Turned out that THAT didn’t work either. They could be 25 feet in either direction and there’s no way at all to ‘catch’ a focus lock at 300mm unless you hit something “hard” immediately. If not, the camera tries to focus and you lose half your seconds trying to reacquire the moving target. I settled on pulling the focus back to about 200mm and catching the rider firmly before zooming in as quickly as I could. I missed a LOT and the wind spoiled even more shots. But I got at least one of each rider I really wanted. And the one of Lance Armstrong just might be one of the last ones of him racing his now-stolen bike. :-(
I’m not sure what I would have done with a camera bag for shooting in the rain. With a headwind that stiff and unpredictable, the bag would have made an even greater ‘sail’ to toss the focus and wouldn’t have stopped rain from hitting the lens anyway. While I’d rather not lose this camera to ANY sort of damage, it IS insured 100% so ruining it to get The Shot isn’t the worse thing that can happen. But 6 weeks for repair or replacement would be a LIFETIME to be ‘camera naked’! However, a camera bag for drizzle without wind would be nice for those last few minutes of shooting before common sense tells you to get your wet rump out of the rain. :-D
The weapon of choice
Lens: Nikkor 70-300mm non-VR
Tripod: MIA because of angle out a highrise window in the wind. LOL!
Focal length: 300mm (Maxed out)
Shutter: 1/500 I wanted 1000 to stop the moment in time but no way with the bad light.
ISO: a wopping 1600 with high ISO noise reduction on. That was a compromise because it forces the camera to be slower but gives you something better to work with when you get home.
Metering mode: spot Again, a compromise. Better focus but harder to get it fast.
Exposure program: full manual I had been using ACTION but it couldn’t handle the bad lighting at all. I gave up on bracketing as well. You either got it right or the entire bracket of three shots sucked anyway.
Exposure compensation: +3 I pushed it to +5 and lowered the ISO with crappy results
Shot taken at 3:50pm, 2/14/09 southward and at some ridiculous downward angle