Long Island Marathon 2011

A year after my first photographic endeavor with the Long Island Marathon (see What a Day for a Marathon), I have returned! One of the biggest differences between last year’s and this year’s pictures is I have photographs from multiple areas. Rather than trying to drive to a spot along the course with every other resident of Long Island, I biked the route which made it so much easier to get around. I saved a lot of time not having to worry about finding a parking spot, and saved even more time not having to walk to my car or plan on avoiding road blocks (which were numerous). If you plan on attending the marathon next year (I most certainly will), try biking if you can.

You’d think after 365 days of photographing other events I would have this one almost down to a T, right? I wish…

Rookie mistake #1: Shutter Speed. It was a gorgeous day out. You could have asked for more sunlight, which meant the course was well-lit. Unfortunately, I decided to lean more towards the f/stop side than the shutter speed side. I’ve mentioned before how I never seem to photograph the “big picture” very well. I figured leaving my shutter speed at f/8 would help me to overcome that fear and capture not only the subjects at hand (runners) but their surroundings (the crowds, buildings, etc.). It did a fair job of that, but my shutter speed had to be at 1/80s to achieve it. Since I was too busy shooting pictures and trying to find my friends (congrats to Juan Cifuentes, Matthew McLaughlin, and David Rothman for amazing performances), I never took the time to look through my photographs and see how a 1/80s shutter speed would affect my pictures. I assumed that was plenty for some of the loping gaits that passed. Not so much… I guess it’s captured motion so it’s not bad, but I’m not happy and will keep it in mind from now on.

Rookie mistake #2: Lighting. I know I mentioned it recently during an Ultimate post, but positioning yourself on the opposite side of where the sun is means that the subject you’re photographing will be darker than their surroundings and may have a bit of a whiting out or haze thing occurring. I couldn’t cross over to the opposite side of the street at the beginning of the marathon, but later on I made the effort to put myself on the same side as the sun so my subject had the proper amount of lighting. However, there was nothing I could do about the finish line except buy a flash. The runners were heading north through Eisenhower Park for the last half mile or so, which means the sun was behind them. To get any face shots, you had to shoot into the sun. With the sun at their backs, the runners’ features came out dark and sometimes blurry.

Rookie mistake #3: Memory cards. I really lucked out with the SD cards. I have three, so when I realized I had left my primary card at home in the computer I only panicked slightly before pulling out a 1 GB card and another 4 GB card. Carry multiple cards, and after you’re done uploading all of the photographs to your computer or external hard drive, format the card. Formatting clears up the cards for later use in a more efficient way than strictly deleting. I forgot to format and realized I was running out of space on my memory card, which meant I had to stand there and delete the old pictures one at a time. That eats up battery power, which brings me to my next Rookie mistake.

Rookie mistake #4: Batteries. I need to purchase another battery for my camera. I had purchased two from BargainCell over a year ago, and they were the biggest waste of money I ever had the displeasure of owning. Within two months of use, the EN-EL9 batteries died without the possibility of a recharge. After receiving two replacements which did the exact same thing, I tried getting back my money. Needless to say, I never did and I won’t be buying from a third-party again. Unfortunately, when you only own one camera battery and you’re trying to photograph a large event with “not-to-be-missed” moments, it’s a bit nerve-wracking waiting for your camera to decide it’s done. Don’t put yourself in that situation. Buy the back-up battery, make sure it’s fully charged and ready to go. The best way to keep your camera battery healthy (and all batteries for that matter) is to use all the power there is to be used before charging it again and doing the same. The more you use it, the more it’ll need to be charged, the longer its life.

Aside from human error, the day was wonderful and so were many of the photographs. Highlights included seeing the top two finishers of the marathon for men and women, Shaun McGrath and Jodie Schoppmann. Jodie’s time has qualified her for the Olympics! How cool is that? If you said, “Really cool!”, then you’re right. For more on the results, check out this link.

Thanks to all that cheered on the participants, and a big thanks to the many volunteers that manned the Hydration Stations (I don’t know if that their official title, but I think it has potential)!

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