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"Shooting a 81 miles gravel race."

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Last Sunday I and my second shooter shot the Jersey Gravel Grinder gravel race.  The race has 3 fields, the Mega route with 81 miles, the Adventure route with 64 miles, and the Soul route with 28 miles.  Not sure if all 500 riders showed up but I am sure we have more than 450 riders racing that day.  Come to think of it, I have never shot a long distance road race when I was still active shooting in NYC races.  Mostly park races around the park using my bike to get around.  Then, since last year, I was thrown in providing race photography coverage for Ready Set Go Adventures and covering over 80 miles of gravel racing.  


I have to scale up my logistic from using my bike to get around in minutes.  Now, I have to drive around in a town and talking about from 30 minutes to 45 minutes to get to another spot.  Is crazy.  And on gravel roads.  Fortunately, my gift is visualization since I am a race photographer, I can plan ahead and literally seeing into the future.


My car Garmin GPS was acting stupid and gave me the wrong route but with the right address.  How?  Apparently, in NJ, there are roads with duplicated names but they are miles apart.  When I got to my spot, it was the wrong location but with the right address.  There was no gravel.  There was no signs.  I was like WTF?  That threw me off really, really good.  I had an existential crisis at that moment!  Where should I go now?  Should I head back to the finish?  Or staying at this wrong spot knowing that it was the right address but not part of the race course?  I managed to drive around further in the town and to get enough signal to check my ride with GPS file.  I was late to my second spot and missed the front of the field.  The good thing is that my logistic and timing were on point.  All the fields arrived to their spots as expected with a given time frame.  We have no radio communication and even the RD has no ideas which fields were at what time segments.  It was all based on projected calculation..in our heads and what we thought we knew. 


The shooting condition was also challenging.  The early morning was nice and with lots of shades.  By 11am, it was too sunny and creating lots of sunny spots in the woods.  It makes for metering and exposure difficult.  The overall color balance was not optimal.  Fortunately, I strobed my shots and that really helped tremendously to get the color and contrast to pop, and to get them right.  There weren't that many bugs.  It was humid and hot.  I didn't feel the weather until I was shooting the last segment of the race.  It was an open paved road section with the sun fully blasting over my head.  The other sections I was in the woods.


Overall, everything turned out fine but, of course, there were things I could have done better.  I guess with regard to logistic, things and events don't always unfold the way you have planned....even down to the minor details.  I have uploaded about near or over 2k photos with multiple coverage spots.   


I still have 2 more gravel races to cover but they are in late July and September.  I just feel that the month of May is mayhem.  June should be easy.  I have 1 or 2 big races to shoot.  I am not telling which.  Logistically, they are easy to handle. 


 

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