running with cameras.

Capturing the sport of it all as an image or a video.

autumn in red deer

Submitted by 8r4d on September 22 2015

Can you imagine how many times I’ve been tempted to take my SLR running? 

Well, perhaps if you cannot it is only because you are not nearly so obsessed by either of these hobbies as am I. The real answer is that it is too many to count. Yet, until this past weekend it had never been so.

Cameras that I’ve carried into races or onto training routes have been pocket-sized. My phone is an excellent running camera, and I’ve been carrying it for emergency purposes anyhow. And the GoPro is literally designed for sport, so give me an excuse and I’ve got my mobile tripod or my jaw-clamp bracket ready to run.

But I’ve always been a little reluctant to take the 6D out onto the trails.

Running is a jostling sport. Things bounce and shake, and I’m not only referring to the fleshier parts of the equation. A well-padded backpack would keep a camera fairly stable, but a well-padded backpack is also big, and heavy, and can chafe in funny places.

Each year I’m recruited –volun-told…

Each year I’m recruited –volun-told, as the saying goes– that my camera skills and equipment have been enlisted for the annual Terry Fox run in Red Deer, the location where my mother-in-law has stumbled into the position of Queen Organizer. She wants pictures. And each year I’ve chosen various ways of capturing the multi-hour narrative that involves set-up, registration, pre-race, race, finish, and wind-up barbecue.

Yet, I always struggle with the race part. Often, I snap some pics of the runners departing, toss my camera over to Karin for safekeeping, and then go run. One year, a couple years ago in fact, I mixed it up and in-line skated the whole route with both a GoPro strapped to my chest and my SLR in my pack. I’d race ahead of the pack, snap some pics, race ahead again, and repeat.

Yet this year I was compelled by some combination of simply feeling it and the fact that the route had been last-minute adjusted to an out-and-back (due to trail construction) and rather than hand off the camera to Karin, I loosed the strap, tucked it into my sportiest camera backpack, and set off at a rapid clip into the trails.

I was not pacing myself in any capacity.

I ran fast. As far as either training runs or races go, I was not pacing myself in any capacity. I surged past Sunday runners in a blur, weaving around joggers with a strong pace, and even scooted past some of the slower cyclists. I sprinted the course in fits and bursts, and punctuated my one-klick laps with the photographic effort of plunking myself to the edge of the trail and pointing the camera at the dozens of people I’d just raced by.

Rinse and repeat.

My final time was modest, and I’d turned around a bit early on the course to mix up my subject matter for the return trip, but by the time I finished I’d acquired a healthy stack of on-trail photography, and the sense that perhaps running with an SLR camera strapped to my back is not the impossible feat I had earlier imagined. 

I mean, not every run… but I expect you’ll see more trail pictures someday soon.

chasing autumn

Submitted by 8r4d on October 15 2013

I took my camera out running on Saturday morning.

For about a week every year, usually around early October, but depending on the weather and flux of the seasons, the leaves turn. I know this is not usual. I happens all over the world: but we live in a city that takes pride in nestling itself in a mostly-preserved natural river valley, a ribbon of summer green that stretches dozens of kilometers from one end to the other, and a ribbon that turns a patchwork of gorgeous reds and golds as the long winter sweeps in around us.

I took my GoPro into the trails, dipping out of suburbia and into the river valley a few klicks from my house, a round trip of nearly ten kilometers all told, but a run weaving through the vibrant fall splendor along a quiet asphalt trail and across the river.

Filming yourself while you run is odd: it’s attention grabbing (in the moment and afterwards) and mildly narcissistic. Ok, not exactly “mildly” but whatever. It is a tricky combination of rapidly identifying a great shot, propping up a wobbly camera on a tiny tripod, with no viewfinder to guide you, then hitting record. You run back a few dozen steps, you dodge into the frame, repeat for luck, then swing back around grabbing the camera from it’s perch as you continue to the next location.

The result is a bunch of blind clips yourself: in their entirety, they look –frankly — ridiculous, an unfiltered collection of stuttering camera dodging, each with a few seconds in the middle, a gem of clear and steady footage. Later, back home, you trim those pieces, digitally splice them together, feed in an epic soundtrack, and the whole thing renders out to four minutes of clever (and yes, narcissistic) video.

The result is that you run up and down the same hill four times to get a good shot and realize that to remove your hat — which you wore to ward off the cold forty minutes ago — would be a great idea, particularly since you’re dripping with sweat, except that you’d mess up the continuity of the footage.

The result is also that despite the apparent loneliness of that footage, dozens of people watch you, stare, comment, ask you awkward questions, comment more, double-take as they speed by on their bikes, or simply laugh.

All that said, it’s my second such video. I knew what I was doing. And in a few years — or maybe just in the deep cold of this coming winter — as goofy as those videos look now I’ll be able to load them up on my TV and watch: the autumn colours, my own crazy-silliness, and, of course, the fun of the run.

6 Photos That Could Sum Up Your Entire Training Season

Submitted by 8r4d on April 29 2013

Blogs are interesting when they tell stories. Photos help make stories interesting. And when you’re training for a marathon (or any race, event, or noteworthy goal for that matter) there are certain definitive moments that both tell the story and mark the adventure for what it’s worth. I think there are at least…

6 Photos That Could Sum Up Your Entire Training Season

1 : The Before Photo

We hate them when we take them, hesitate to share them, but they form the opening credits of every success story of physical fitness. While snapping a few pics of who you were before you hit the trails may seem a little bit too much like part of a late night advertisement for one of those ab-erobic-super-diet-pillz deals, you won’t regret it in a few months when you are trying to explain your transformation to other people. And, just to be clear, I’m not advocating some kind of skinny bias here: it’s just a fact that training for and running a big race WILL change you, so why not embrace your starting point? 

2 : The Team Photo and
3 : The Lonely Runner Photo

Every training season is a balance. On the one hand there are klicks and klicks of lonely footsteps down snow-covered, wind-swept, or rain-drizzled trails. On the other hand, you’ll have awesome runs with new and intersting people. These could also be photographic moments that define a training season. The team photo, that gathering of sweat-soaked victory back at the shed, where someone spontaneously pulls out a camera or their iPhone and grabs a blurry shot of everyone improptu huddled together. Or, the (much harder to capture, mind you) photo of a lonely runner on the trails: if you are fortunate enough to trod on something like the wide variety of trails to which I have access, propping up your camera in auto-mode for a few timed-selfies is not only easy, but rarely will someone be around to gawk. If you are training in a more crowded or urban enviroment then hey… don’t be afraid to ask a friendly stranger to snap some pics of you on the run. It may seem silly at the time, but you’ll cherish those pics later. 

4 : The Dirty Shoes Photo

Still life is a touchstone of artistic expression. Objects can evoke emotion and tell stories about a thousand words not quite seen and out of frame. The classic training photo is the “dirty” shoes pic. Or, if you prefer, the worn-shoes, the dangling shoes, the resting shoes, the feets-less shoes sitting on the porch between runs shoes. One nearly-constant between all runners (well, except for some of those hardcore barefoot folks) is the bits of plastic and leather we strap to our feet, and when we take them off between runs they yearn to tell tales of their travels. 

5 : The Race Photo and
6 : The Finisher Photo

Of course, one day the BIG day will roll around and not only will you be decked out in your best-worn and most comfortable race gear, but you’ll be at the peak of your fitness. There are two moments worth capturing on every race day (and luckily there is probably a photographer — or even an company — hired to help you grab those pics. As your running, strugging, enduring the long haul of footstep after footstep, you will undoubtably encounter someone crouched on the side of the course snapping photos of every runner, burning through digital memory with wanton abandon. Smile. Just smile. Strike your best pose. You can probably download that photo from somewhere later. Likewise, someone else will probably be crouched a few meters behind the finish line, snapping an even more frantic collection of every single runner to beep their RFID toe tag across that annoying rubber mat. Throw your arms in the air. Cheer. Smile. Your training story jsut had a happy ending. You may as well have the photo to prove it.