Daily Photo – Sea of Red

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

A small handful of runners go for a stroll in downtown Austin in the Nike Human Race last year.


  • Shutter:  1/2500
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • I cropped this just enough to fill the frame with runners, but also to insure both the curb line and the far edge of the field extended directly from the top right corner.  The motion of the runners themselves, of course, emerges from that single point.
  • I shot this blind, holding the camera above my head.  That height is just enough to see the head of each runner behind the one in front of them, creating a seemless stretch of people into the distance.  The higher you go, the more separation between the runners (and less of the dense wave you see here, although you could use a long lens to compensate).  The lower you go, the fewer runners you see and less distance is perceivable.  I don’t know if “one head” is a good guideline for how much you want to see of each following runner, but it seemed to work well in this shot too.
  • 1/2500 is perhaps a bit much for this specific shot, but it’s my general guideline for freezing human motion in sports.  I didn’t want to risk any softness in the foreground, and while I might have appreciated more depth of field than f/2.8 provided, all that really mattered was that the lead runners be crisp (the mass of people is more important than any one of them).


February 16 2009 07:44 pm | Photography

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply