Saturday, September 19, 2009

Week 21, Day 149, September 19, 2009, Feeling Small (Sorry Steve Martin)

Today was the 2nd Annual Iroquois Trails Ultra 100 mile, and 50 mile race.  This race is an incredible test of endurance.  Runners run up and down ski slopes, through trails with roots, and rocks, some roads, and through some of the most beautiful country side in the North East.  The race started at 6:00 AM this morning, and the 100 mile runners are still running.  Usually it takes the top athletes a little under 24 hours to complete it.

I must admit, I was feeling a little small today.  I've run several marathons, and a couple of very long relays including a 6 person 200 mile run.  But, I'm not ready to touch this race yet.

Another reason that I was feeling small, is that I was asked by the organizers to photograph the event.  I said sure.  I do sports photography.  This race presented many challenges for me as a photographer and once again I was feeling a little small:
  •  I woke up at 4:00 AM so that I could be at the top of the ski slope when the runners started at 6:00 am at the bottom.  The organizer wanted some photos of people running up the ski slope with their headlamps in the dark.  Photographing head lamps in the dark is a challenge.  I rely a lot on autofocus.  Autofocus doesn't work very well in the dark.  I had to quickly switch to manual focus. 
  • The next photo that the organizer wanted was as they ascend the ski slope up a few slopes.  I had some time between when they passed me, and when they would arrive at the ascent.  The challenge was in trying to capture the runners and the bright sun at the same time.  At the time, I wasn't happy with how the balance was happening.  The photos turned out fairly well despite the conditions.
  •  I then ran down the ski slope to get into my car and get to the next photography spot.  I missed the top runners, but did get some great photos of the runners running by a barn with the ski slopes in the background
  • The next stop was an aid station.  I was able to arrive there in time for the top runners, and took the photo above.  I really like this photo.  I think the smallness of the runner is representative of the vastness of the race.  The runner is a big part, but the 100 mile trail is huge.  I think this represents well the David of the runner vs the Goliath of the race.
  • After this I went to 3 spots in the woods for some trail shots.
  • Because I was concerned about the sunrise photos, I wanted to go back to the top of the ski slope for some vista shots.  As I began to hike up the slope the second time, the top runner passed me.  (This made me feel small again, but I did have a great opportunity to take some photos of him as he climbed the trail)
  • I photographed for 10 hours today.  (But that wasn't a challenge. I loved it. :-))

On the way up the ski slope for the second time I reflected a lot on photography.  How many photos is enough?  Will the client be happy?  I think that I had already achieved those two goals.  So why was I up here again?  The answer is,  I hadn't satisfied either goal for myself.  I think I am my own harshest critic.  In many ways I still feel very small when it comes to photography.  I answer a lot of peoples questions, but realize I still have so much to learn.  Even though I feel small, I feel that I'm really enjoying the process.

I think being a harsh critic of my own work has some good points and some bad points.  The good point being that it helps me to strive to do better.  All you runners out there know what I'm talking about.  The bad point is if I let it discourage me, and give up.  I'm far from that point at this time, but it is something I need to be aware.

If your still with me on this post, thank you reader of the blog.  Thank you for your comments they really help me to continue (Some of the smallest comments have meant the most.).  Thank you for pointing out articles that you have read and have helped you.  Thank you for listening to me through the process. Thank you for your tips that you have learned along the way.

I think alone I feel small, but with all your help I'm standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Lessons Learned:
  • I finally found how to change the metering mode on my camera.  Woohoo!!!  I knew it once, but I forgot.  See I'm still small.
  • I forgot about the 1.5/3.0 meter focus button on my lens.  So the photos that the subjects were less the 1.5 meters away didn't focus correctly.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/2600, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 100, Focal Length 70 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 142mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.


Jen Yu said...

That is a *terrific* shot, Steve. I really don't think you should be feeling small or big or anywhere in between. I think of photography as love. Some folks like my style, some don't care for it - either way, it doesn't matter to me (oh well, except for clients - heeee!) because I enjoy everything about it. Don't worry about small or big, just do what feels right. Follow your heart - you are learning so much! People who shoot everyday learn A LOT about their photography and about themselves. Great job and Keep. On. Shooting! :) xxoo

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

Steve, man, you do NOT have to run a 100 mile race.....

Elizabeth Gilje said...

This is an incredible picture! A "framer" if you will. I love how you relate your pictures back to a feeling you are experiencing. You do a great job at it!

I agree about being a harsh critic. I am slowly starting to get more compliments on my work, but I'm still not sure. I know I'm far from some of the amazing work out there, but am trying to remember that I am making progress.

Here is another great article that helped me a bunch: