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A few things I do to get the shot….

Location, Location, Location….

Swimmer racing in an olympic distance triathlon

Swimmer racing in an olympic distance triathlon

The key to getting good action shots is being in the right place at the right time. When shooting events, ensuring you are in the right place at the right time is infinitely harder than when shooting action for a client. After all, you can’t exactly ask someone to go back and go past you again when they are in the middle of the race since you didn’t have your settings right, or you were not in the correct position.

For the shot above, I actually swam out into the middle of the swim course during a local triathlon to get this shot. I was waiting at the last buoy thinking that I would be able to get a good shot of the carnage that happens at every turn buoy during a triathlon. If you have never taken part in an open water swim race or triathlon, swimming in a big bunch is one of the hardest things to learn how to do and if you are in the main pack it can be rougher than  being in the middle of a rugby scrum with arms, and feet all around you and everyone trying to take the shortest route around the buoy. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the buoy to get the shot I wanted.

This image was taken just after I had gotten my new surf housing for my camera and I had issues with the supplier making the right size port for my wide angle lens and they had to make two or three different ports before they got it right for my set up, so that I had a clear view without seeing the edges of the port through my lens. Unfortunately, they didn’t double check the join between the port and the housing before the sent it to me and I also made the mistake of not testing it for myself.

So I showed up at the triathlon to get some shots for my own portfolio (fortunately, this was not for a paying client) and was going to cover the whole race with the plan to shoot it to make it seem like I was part of the race and not just looking on from the sidelines. I put my camera in the housing to get the start…

Start of a Triathlon

Start of a Triathlon

I then headed out towards the last buoy to get the shot I planned and saw that the leaders were going to make it around the buoy before I could get there so I swam over towards them to get the main shot at the top of the post and as I was swimming I kept hearing the shutter go off and thought that I was just accidentally hitting the shutter button while I was swimming but then when I stopped to take the shot, I realized that it was not me hitting the button, but the fact that the housing was leaking water and the salt water was actually triggering the shutter!

I knew that mean trouble and it was the longest 400m of my life trying to swim back to shore holding my now waterlogged camera housing up out of the water and just praying that the water was not getting into the camera itself. But of course, when I did get on shore and opened up the housing it was worse than I thought

view through my drowned lens

View through my drowned lens

and not only was my camera totally drenched, so was my lens. This is what I saw when I looked through the lens:


Needless to say, my day of shooting was over and was a very expensive lesson to learn (This is why my insurance company and loves me). It is not the first time or the last time that I ended up sacrificing gear to get a shot. Now, I always do a water test before I put my camera into a housing to ensure that all the seals are watertight…

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