Stepping into the 'Olympic Velodrome' in London you can't help but be grabbed by a unique atmosphere, the recent history of iconic British victories, the vicinity of high speed action surrounded by a lively & loud crowd, the flashing disco lights and booming dance music.
Six day racing has a rich history wrapped in tradition & legend and whilst newly revived in the UK has been popular throughout Europe for over a century. Over six days riders compete as pairs & individuals over a variety of disciplines, from simple basic sprints to mind boggling one hour Maddisons, raced in pairs, with intermediate sprints and points of 'lapping' opponents. All accompanied by disco lighting, a live DJ and screaming fans!
From a spectator's view the Lee Valley VeloPark is an ideal venue, seating surrounds the track and you can walk all around, getting very very close to the riders as they travel at speeds in excess of 70kph. The view is incredible, wherever you're sitting and even when queuing for refreshments you can watch the races. The music and lighting maintain the atmosphere throughout and riders are fully aware this is entertainment, cranking up the atmosphere, encouraging the crowd to make noise and get behind the riders
Photographically shooting this event is probably one of the most challenging projects, high speed and very dark, changing, multi-coloured lighting means high (6400!) ISO and focus struggling to grab the subject.
Opportunities for panning abound and the shape of the velodrome offers all sorts of creative viewpoints. The large groups of fast moving riders means the photographer really needs to concentrate on a subject and avoid distractions. Carefully watching how the shape of the groups change as they rotate around the track and the effect the lighting has offers some really dynamic images. Shooting wider can illustrate the speed of the groups and how close they're riding together. Zooming in or isolating a rider is all about picking the spot to press the shutter, using elements within the frame or avoiding eye catching & distracting elements.
The dernie races are a curious sight as riders are paced behind motorised bikes, dernies, who increase speed throughout the race upon command from their rider. By taking advantage of the aerodynamic slip-stream riders build to speeds close to 80kph.