One thing that I learned today, but already knew and for some reason did not do? Bring a flash everywhere. You will probably use it. I thought that it would interfere too much with the athletes if I used a flash, but it's actually not a big deal. Especially when shooting midday. My friend Daniel Milchev brought his along and was capturing some incredible images. Flash will give you the edge!
I am competing in the Teva Mountain Games photography competition that I took 2nd place in last year. The goal is to capture the top image(s) showcasing the iconic Teva Mountain Games. This year there are three categories and you are allowed to submit a total of three images. If your in the Vail area, it's definitely worth entering for the $50 price tag. Cash prizes of $800 for first place and you CAN win in multiple categories. With the entry fee you get a free shirt, hat, bag, water bottle, and other cool stuff. Best of all? Unlimited access to all areas of the events!! A media pass that will get you everywhere. You can check it out here: Teva Mountain Games. The event will be running all weekend, and I will have many blog updates about it.
When you compete in a photography competition, it is important to not allow the other photographers to psych you out. They may have the best gear available, but do they know how to use it? Probably not as well as you! Especially if you've been following All Photo Buzz!! The other photographers bundle into a group. They all have their biggest telephoto lens on, and are all shooting from the same angle. Get as far away from this group as you can. You want unique shots, and you must go where they are not to capture it.
For this event, I went to the end of the course, and was rowed across the creek in a raft. Ask people around and see where you can get. If you see a spot you want to go shoot from, figure out how to get there. Someone will help you! Only about 4-5 other photographers total made it to the other side of the creek, and those that did never ventured very far up the shore to shoot different waterfalls.
Learn your camera settings, and if you can't make if focus fast enough in continuous mode, just pre-focus on where you think the best shot will be, and shoot a sequence through the focused section. One image should be in perfect focus. Try to set yourself apart even more with wide-angle lenses. Get in closer than other photographers, and try to showcase the elements along with the athlete.
Move around. Shooting from the same spot may yield somewhat different results. But the perfect picture that you are hoping for may never happen. Keep moving to get more unique shots. A bunch of similars will do you no good.
Have fun! I love photography and that is why I've made a career out of it. Shooting should always be a blast. I even took some time to experiment with video during the day. It may be a photo contest, but I'm here to have as much fun as possible, and with video in my D3S it was too alluring for me to pass up. I've posted one video below, it's not perfect, and it will take some time before I make perfect videos, but not too bad for a first attempt, eh?
Teva Games Kayaking 2010 from Connor Walberg on Vimeo.