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Workflow and Camera Settings - Race and OCR Photography


​These represent my "go-to" camera settings and professional workflow when photographing running, cycling, extreme sports and obstacle course races (OCRs.) 

  • First and Foremost: I do everything I can to shoot sharp, in-focus pictures with visible faces and bib numbers to make it easier for race participants to find their images, and for the race company to find and sort images of race participants. I also follow any photography guidelines set by the company I am contracted with. But the following settings are my “go-to” settings if there are no specific photography guidelines set by the company. 

  • Arrival Time: I typically arrive 2 hours before the event start time. This allows me to coordinate with race organizers, walk the course, find my spot and setup. 

  • Camera Date/Time: I set this based on the GPS of my camera and smartwatch after arriving on site. 

  • SD Cards: If using my own, I bring at least 10 SanDisk Extreme Pro 128Gb SD Cards with a minimum file transfer rate of 200Mb/s read and 95Mb/s write. If using SD cards provided by the company or race organizer I will use whatever they supply and return after shooting. 

  • Batteries: I bring a minimum of 5 batteries per camera body with multiple portable battery chargers. 

  • Image Data Handling: I format all SD cards (even those given to me) after inserting into my camera body. I also create a new image folder for every event starting at 101 (or the next number in sequence for my camera body). My file naming convention contains my initials (M, MC or MJC). Depending on my camera body this might be prepended with a “P” or “D” or some other letter, but will always be followed by my initials (M, MC or MJC). 

  • Image Type: I typically shoot in .JPG only with an image size of Medium (or Standard, or Normal) and a maximum of 4k pixels on the long edge for running, cycling, and obstacle course races. I have found that .JPG files make it faster and easier for the race company to process the images and also enables me to fit more images on each SD card. 

  • Key Shots: I usually “tag” a few images using my camera body’s functionality to make it easier for the race company to find the “cool” shots for their marketing and promotion needs. 

  • White Balance: Automatic. 

  • Picture Style: Neutral (or Natural) 

  • Contrast and Saturation: Neutral settings only (0, not -1, or +1, or any setting other than 0). 

  • Auto Focus Assist Lamps: Set to “off” position. 

  • Auto Image Rotation: On. 

  • Shutter Speed: Running and Obstacle Course Races = 1/1,000 sec or greater. Cycling events = 1/2,000 sec or greater. Adjusted to match the lighting situation. 

  • Aperture: Set manually to control depth of field. Adjusted to match the lighting situation. 

  • ISO: Auto ISO. Sometimes manually adjusted to match the lighting situation. 

  • Focus Type: Continuous autofocus. 

  • Power Saving: Off

  • Acoustic Signal or Sound: Off

  • Main Camera Bodies: Lumix S5 and Leica SL (Type 601). 

  • Remote Camera Body (as needed or as requested): Leica Q (Typ 116), Fuji XT4. 

  • Telephoto Lenses: Lumix 24-105mm f/1.4, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8, Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3. 

  • Prime Lenses: Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7, Voigtlander 28mm f/2. 

  • Stability Equipment: Monopod, stool, and camera body / lens optical image stabilization features. 

  • As-Needed Specialty Equipment: Depending on assignment, I can bring a mix of flashes, key lights, and fill lights. I’ve found that these may be desired when shooting in the “hero tent” or if race participants are competing before dawn and after dusk. I am also able to bring a small speaker and play fun music (family friendly radio edits only) to help motivate the athletes (but this is only if-approved or requested by the race company). 

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