With this year’s Tour de France under way, now is the perfect time brush up on your action photography skills. Whether your heading out to France or photographing a local race, here’s a few tips to help.

 

1. Panning to create motion.

One of the best ways to capture a sense of motion is to pan you camera with the action. Follow the cyclist with your camera, with the shutter speed set between 1/10th – 1/60th second, with an aperture of around f5.6 or f8 to keep the background blurred, and keep following the rider taking several shots in a burst. Like all photography techniques, it takes a little trial and error to perfect, but results can be great.

panning cycle race photo

 

2. Use a long lens

By using a long lens, the photographer can compress the background, and use the shallow depth of field to isolate the subject. Use the camera in continuous focus mode, so that as the action moves closer the subject stays sharp. A lens of around 300mm or longer would be ideal.

cycling long lens photo

 

3. Get in close!

Don;t be afraid to get in close. This can be a great way to capture the drama of cycling. You don’t need to capture the whole scene, focus on the face, use a long lens on continuous focus, and keep shooting!

 

4. Use the scenery

The Tour de France passes through some stunning scenery, so make sure you make the most of it  By using the fantastic setting, you can add real context to your pictures. Using a wider angle lens, with a smaller aperture to ensure a greater depth of field, often provides a dramatic perspective that is not always visible to the naked eye

Cyclists Tour de France Paris

 

5. Look for an unusual perspective

Your shots don’t have to be all about the riders. Look out for different angles, dramatic lighting and graphic elements, and use the riders to give these elements some context.