2011 Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky.

2011 Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky.

I was on hand this Sunday in Louisville to watch my son Sam participate in his first Ironman. For those of you who don’t know, the Ironman is the world’s premiere endurance sporting event. It starts at 7:00 with a 2.4 mile swim, then the athletes jump on their bikes and bike 112 miles. The athletes then put on their running shoes and run a full marathon of 26.2 miles, for a total mileage of 140.6 miles.

The problems of actually getting to the right spot at the right time to take photos is considerable for the one man band that I am. For that reason the week prior I gave no thought to actually shooting video, I just brought my 5D to take stills. However, once I was there I thought it would be better to shoot some footage, then splice it all together just for him to have.

So I tried to track Sam’s location and estimate when he would show up. The race gave you periodic updates but nothing like real time. So I was very concerned I would miss him. However, I nailed every shot I tried. Chasing him around Kentucky during the race is no mean feat. Many times I thought I would rather be participating in the race than running everywhere trying to get him on film.

Once I looked at the footage at home I realized that some of it was actually good. It was all either hand held or on my Manfrotto 680B monopod with at stills ball head instead of a decent video head. It was my first accessory I bought at a local camera store and leaves something to be desired, that’s for sure. I have definitely decided to upgrade my monopod to something like the Manfrotto Fluid Video Monopod w/Head. If you have any better ideas, let me know. My recommendation if you try anything like this: get an assistant and have him carry a decent tripod.

I used only 3 lenses for this shoot. From 6AM until 12PM I was lugging everything around myself while I was hoofing it from place to place. It was a good thing I had my ThinkTank Change Up Bag. The bag’s supplied strap is pretty good, but not good enough for this torture. As soon as I got home I took it off and replaced it with a Swiss Army Victorinox strap that I had on one of my trumpet cases.

Now I had tried out ThinkTank’s multimedia bags but they were substantially bigger but not big enough to carry 3 lenses, camera, and the deal-breaker, my trusty Marantz PMD670. It was one of the first field recorders and is so good I use it to record orchestras. But it is much larger than the Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder. I have had my Marantz for years and it has never failed me, but there is no way I can cram it, my lenses, and camera into one portable bag. When I use it I have one pack I use just for carrying it, and my Change Up for the camera stuff. For this shoot I only used the internal microphone, and it worked surprisingly well for the background crowd noise I needed.

I used the Canon Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Autofocus Lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, and the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter). The swim shots were all on the 200mm. The panning here worked out pretty well. For the swim to bike transition I used the the doubler with the 200, giving me a 400mm focal length. I’ve got to hand it to Canon, they make some great glass. The biking shots in La Grange were all on the 24-105. The bike finish used most the zooming range of the 70-200, the run start did the same with the 24-105. By this time it was so bright I needed my variable Fader ND. For you still photographers who might not know, to shoot video we use 1/50 sec shutter speed, hence the need for the ND. The final running shot through the finish line was at 200, taken from an overhead walkway. The post race shots were all with the 70-200 as it is much faster then the 24-105 and I didn’t have any other lenses with me.

I did take some stills which you see at the beginning and the end, mixed in with a few frame captures from the video. The final sunset still was shot on 200 x 2 = 400mm. I saw the sun going down and took 2 shots quick as a bunny and combined them in Photoshop for a high dynamic range shot since I wanted the Ironman logos to be readable. I cut it all together in Final Cut Pro X.

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