The BlogKor

A Photographic Journal

Workshop: Outdoor Sports Photography

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Conyers Horse Park, GA: I was hoping it would rain. At midday, it was completely overcast. Quiet thunder. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the July 15 Outdoor Sports Photography Workshop, which would specifically tackle the sport of mountain biking. It was a full course, and as I went over introductions in the parking lot, all 12 participants glanced at least two or three times at the impending gloom. (So did I). “If you see lightning, let me know,” I half-joked. A couple folks backed away from the chain link fence we were gathered near. Hopefully it would start raining soon.

You see, the course, through the Showcase School was all about what makes photographing outdoor sports, namely adventure sports such as mountain biking, climbing and skiing so challenging (and fun): dealing with chaos and unpredictability. So, I said to the weather gods, bring it on! Of course, anyone could have predicted clouds and rain for the middle of July in Georgia. But whatever: Cry havoc and let the workshop begin!

Situated about 30 minutes east of Atlanta, Conyers was the site of the ’96 Olympic Mountain Bike competitions, and though its a little out of date, the course remains very popular. I’ve shot a few races there and ridden it myself, so I chose the “granite side” for our session, which was easily accessible, with lots of varied terrain. One thing I could predict was the mountain biking: I recruited two friends of mine as models, sponsored mountain bikers Eddie and Namrita ODea.

Eddie ODea (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

Above: Eddie ODea relaxing at the workshop (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

Both are high-end endurance atheletes. I have shot Eddie many times at 24 hour mountain bike races in the area, and I also photographed their wedding. They are both great looking too (“Is she your wife? You did well!” remarked one guy in our class, to which a woman countered, “hey! so did she!”)

We started with a “warm up” session. I always warm up before shooting a big event. I just start shooting. This gets me in the “through the lens” mindset, and also gives me a chance to see if I’ve forgotten anything major (like my camera). Eddie and Namrita rode laps while we stalked them, no rules: just shoot stuff. After about 10 minutes, we dove into the tech talk. The technical and gear aspects of outdoor sports photography are myriad, and we had a lot to cover. Still, I emphasized that the geekery was not the main focus of the workshop, and I promised we would get to the guru stuff later. Flash technique is important for action sports, so we spent most of the time on that.

James Davidson warming up (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

Above: James Davidson warming up, with Namrita ODea riding (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

I was psyched to have a great group of participants who were open to new techniques and ideas, regardless of their skill level. At one point I even got someone to lie down next to me as Eddie and Namrita whizzed past only inches away. Next time we’ll try it with the camera though.

Yvette Tolson (C) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

Above: YVette Tolson getting low to shoot Eddie on the granite (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

Thanks to Nikon and Canon for both making weather-worthy DSLRs, or the class would have stopped when the rain finally hit. I saw a lot of casual and school-style backpacks out there for those nice DSLRs though. Wrap that rascal in something better! Money is well spent on a good camera bag when you have a camera that serves you so faithfully!

James Davidson (left) and my assistant Bertrand Ducuing (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

Above: James Davidson (left) and my assistant Bertrand Ducuing at the workshop (c) 2007 Andrew Kornylak

There was a lot of great discussion about everything from high-speed flash sync to business strategies, and meanwhile the class took some amazing pictures. Really, I am impressed! With that, here is a showcase of some student work (click the images to see larger versions. All the photos below are copyrighted by their respective authors and may not be copied or used without their permission):

Jonathan Enck: A great shot showing movement into the frame. Excellent!

Jonathan Enck

Jack Tuttle: A nice tight shot of Namrita using flash-panning techniques. These types of shots are harder than they seem!

Jack Tuttle

Rob Giersch: Experimenting with flash blur, rotation, the works. Cool!

Rob Giersch

Yvette Tolson, with a great angle, from the ground!

Yvette Tolson


Written by Andrew Kornylak

July 17, 2007 at 5:42 pm

One Response

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  1. Sounds like an awesome workshop that would be good for photographers that don’t work in sports photography to really learn some new techniques. With so much going on you are bound to have a lot of oppurtunities to experiment.


    July 17, 2007 at 5:51 pm

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