The panicked chaos and excitement of the start of a triathlon. Canon EOS 7D EF 70-300mm at 93mm f/4.5 1/6400 ISO 400
Arms shake and nerves jangle but the dance at the bottom of her belly begins to calm as the cold water permeates her wetsuit. She looks around at the competition, already jockeying for position as the other swimmers move forward towards the start. She is fast in the water, she moves through it with grace and power so finding a place among the ten people at the front means there are fewer people that she has to swim over or around. The first eight strokes are already there, stored in the muscle memory of her shoulders and they want to go. She hops up and down in the water, she is ready, she wants to hear the horn that will start it all… and then she does.
My daughter races triathlon and I always enjoy photographing the races. In a recent race I was able to get really good access to the swim as the start went past a dock. Races take place in the early morning so the light for the start was really nice. The sun was coming in over my shoulder and gave the drops of water a beautiful crystal shine. Photographing sports is so often about finding ways to represent binding speed or wild action in a frozen second. The water helps us; as the athletes move through it the movement of the water gives the eye that is viewing the photograph a cue as to the speed and motion that is involved. A photograph of a cyclist or a runner can make him appear as though he is not moving at all. Shutter speed is key. In water it is helpful, as I did below, to use a very fast shutter speed to freeze the droplets of water. On land a slower shutter speed will allow the wheels of a bike or the feet of a runner to blur giving the eye the movement cues.