Shooting a Triathlon from Start to Finish

Today’s Post by Mary Farace

Being a spectator at a triathlon at a beautiful venue is a great photo op, especially when you have someone to follow throughout the race.

I was fortunate to be visiting my friend and world-class athlete, (also named) Mary last Saturday, just in time for the San Diego Triathlon Classic at Liberty Station and Point Loma. It was a perfect San Diego weather day with a race start at 6:30 am with the swim. I had my “art camera” with me for my vacation, my Nikon V1 with the 10-30 mm, f/3.5-5.6 lens. Not the best focal length range for shooting swimmers in the water but great for capturing action at the important transition points and turns during the bike and run.


The race website provided a map and detailed description of the course. When I arrived at 6:00 am it was still quite dark outside and it was an overcast day. To capture motion with the highest shutter speeds possible I decided to shoot at 1600 ISO and used the Aperture Preferred setting. It was overcast for the entire race and I was happy with the shutter speeds and aperture.

Along with a Go-Pro shooting friend, we positioned ourselves at the exit of the swim and photographed her exciting exit from the swim. Then we moved to the transition area and were ready for her exit where I photographed her in continuous mode, while panning with her and cheering her on. Then we moved to a great viewing position at the intersection where the bikes came back to the transition area. I positioned myself in the middle of the street, as close as I could get to the bike path, and was able to capture her as she entered the turn, and I continued to pan as she passed me.


We quickly ran back to the transition area and photographed her as she began the 10K, the final portion of the race. The race path was edged with Bird of Paradise plants and I placed them in the foreground to frame her and show the beautiful venue for this Triathlon. The runners made two loops, so that presented four photo ops to pan her action as she ran. The result of cheering for her was not only smiles, but knowing she had our support helped her push herself to a great finish—Third in her age group! I moved to the finish and photographed her along with a guy ahead of her, encouraging her with, “Finish Strong” and she did. I captured the high fives.


After the race, I captured the high fives and congratulations from friends and fellow athletes. She will have great memories to enjoy in photos and I had the pleasure of sharing the morning with her and doing something I love – photography!