It’s not easy to capture great sports bikers photography. Amateur photographers have limited access to many popular sports, such as motor racing or football. Even worse, long lenses can be too expensive to get close enough to the action to capture worthwhile shots. This is beyond many photographers’ financial means.
Mountain biking is a different sport. Mountain biking is accessible on any level, whether it’s at a recreational level with beautiful surroundings or as part of a race scene with professional-level riders. You only need a standard zoom photography session DSLR to start, and you can also use the same techniques to photograph bikers in other sports. This is a great way to get into sports bikers photography.
An action photo must have a subject that is moving turquoise nails, not stationary. This is the fundamental principle of an action shot. Although this is a simple statement, it points to a fundamental principle that all sports photography techniques must follow: If the subject moves, the camera should move too. This technique is commonly known as “panning”, but I prefer to call it “tracking”. Accurate tracking of the subject in the viewfinder is key to taking consistently high quality action shots.
The shutter remains open for a short time while you capture an image using your camera. The lens projects the subject’s image onto the sensor of the camera during that time. The image will blurred if the projected image moves when the shutter is closed. The image will remain sharp if it doesn’t move. Tracking your subject means that you keep the projected image of your subject (in this instance, the bike and rider) in the same place on the image sensor for the duration of the exposure. This will ensure that the rider and bike will be clearly visible. It’s fine if the background moves during exposure. This just adds to the speed.
Mountain biking allows photographers to be close to the action, unlike other sports. Many race venues offer spectator access, and if you are able to ride, you will have unlimited access to all kinds of bikers photography positions on any recreational trail.
This makes mountain bikers photography very accessible in practice. You only need a standard zoom or kit zoom camera to get started. You can zoom in on the action and include context at the wide end, while the longer ends allow for cropping.
You need to exercise discretion. You can get close enough to riders to grab a photographer passing by for a stray handlebar, pedal or elbow. Wide lenses can also pull” wheels into oval shapes in corners of the frame. This can be disconcerting.