I arrived early to the press center and mounted up (???) for the day. The organizers provided photographers and VIP personnel a shuttle service with quad bikes, which allowed us to get to certain points of the course really fast, it allowed us to spend less time with moving around.
The official press material stated that there`s a very steep climb, right after the start, so I decided to start the women`s race there. Houffalize is less known for its part in the Battle of Bulge, however it had its fair share and there are some old fighting machines, like this German panzer, left here and there as a memento.
I went to the top of the aforementioned climb, where loads of fans were preparing to see their favourite riders to tackle the ascent. The race commenced in a timely fashion and they appeared at the bottom. I first used the 70-200 zoom lens to show the size of the group of the riders: almost 100 ladies entered the race.
As they got closer, I opted for the wider, 24-70 lens, but as I didn`t have any idea, what I wanted to see, no wonder that I couldn`t take a picture with what I was happy.
I was a bit clueless, I didn`t want to go back to the place where I shot the juniors` race yesterday, or at least not just yet, so I walked to a tricky section, near the 4X course, where a daring downhill preceeded a cruel climb. I arrived here by their first lap and didn`t have much time so I set things up on the downhill section. I threw a flash on the right of the camera as a fill light, but it didn`t really look the way I imagined. I got however a bunch of decent shots, that weren`t particularly interesting, but had to have something decent on the racers I had to cover.
The ascent was really close, so I went there, and again, took some really boring, standard pictures, just to be on the safe side.
I wondered back a little on the course, trying to find something interesting. It didn`t take long before I found an interesting corner. I set up two strobes, one from the front, to lighten up the face of the rider a bit and one behind the rider, to give the edges a little accent. The shot didn`t work out however, for various reasons. The rear flash crawled almost always into the frame, therefore I couldn`t use compose the picture the way I wanted. Also, the fill flash in the front just didn`t work the way I wanted.
After a few cyclists, I realized that it didn`t make sense to push it any further, so I made some bland shots and then left the scene a bit later, feeling defeated.
The course wasn`t optimal from a photographer`s point of view, as it was long and the cyclist completed a low number of laps, giving us less chance to take pictures, since we`re not omnipresent, no matter how hard we all try.
The race ended after 3 laps and I hurried back to the press center to download the pictures. There are just days, when you`re not inspired and no matter how hard you try, cannot get interesting shots. All you can do then is to take a step back and go for the safe shots.