A Thousand Fleeting Portraits – Photography At The Finish Line

by John Downey

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My wife and daughter ran a charity 5k for Women First in downtown Addis this past weekend.  I really would have preferred to be a participant rather than a bystander, but this one was for women only and fortuitously opportune for some great candid, sports portraits. The start line was mobbed by press and independent photographers, milling around in the direct nine am sun.  Following the start, I found the finish area and a great spot, shaded by a tall apartment building and surrounded by a faded blue, corrugated tin wall, perfect backdrop for the thousands of pink shirts cruising by.  I missed the first place finisher – forgot how quick 5k’s are.  And they go by even faster when you have World-Class Ethiopian athletes burning up the asphalt.  I made all of these images with a 200mm lens at ISO 400, enough to get me to a 1/400 or greater shutter speed.  AE servo autofocus helped track the runners but it’s not a foolproof technology.  Lately, I’ve been lamenting about using autofocus in general and am convinced that with some practice, you really don’t need it.  The great thing about getting the exposure set and staying in the shade was that very little post-processing was required for most of these; just a bit of saturation and vibrance adjustments and some vignetting for a few shots, and done.  I went through more than 250 images in less than an hour.  Enjoy the slideshow of some great faces!

© 2011 John Andrew Downey II Photography.  All Rights Reserved.

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