Halfway to NoWhere

Ranting and Complaints of Life in Taiwan

Tour de Taiwan – Stage 1


Cyclists cutting a corner; you can see the Eslite Bookstore in the backgroud

It is quite hard to imagine that the sun could be so daunting during spring season. Such was the case on the second day of the Tour de Taiwan 2011. Following the trial laps on Saturday, the tournament kicked off with the 60-km crit in Taipei.

Since the event happened on the same day and the same location as another cycling event (this one for entire families and average Joes), the route around city hall is crowded with spectators as well as participants of the other event.

VIPs offering a moment of silence to the victims of Japan's Tsunami

Of course, while the cyclists were preparing for the race, there’s already a bunch of photographers scouting the area out beforehand.

Since this is my second year at taking pictures of the race, I sort of know what things to look out for and pitfalls to avoid. One of the most important lessons I learned from last year is to keep moving; there are too much places to cover (and yes, this is true even if the route of Taipei’s crit consists of laps around city hall) and the race really does pick up FAST.

VIP leading the first lap

The strategy I adopted for the event is to go counter-clockwise around the outskirt of city hall. Starting at the front gate of city hall, the primary shot was to have the athletes, city hall, and Taipei 101 in the same photo. Doesn’t sound hard, but you need a wide enough lens to get all those in – not to mention you got to fight against the sunlight shining right into your face, creating loads of contrast.

Once the opening ceremony is over and the important officials mount their bikes for the single lap, it’s time to move. Effectively, all the time I was moving in the direction opposite of the athletes, allowing me to take photos of them charging head on, rather than having them speed by me and have shots featuring their backs.

OK, I did capture the athletes from behind - though the main subject is the photographer on the side of the street

Trying out shots from different angles, I think the best ones are the ones taken from below; especially the ones taken when I’m lying flat on the ground (the arcade game Frogger, anyone?)

Photo taken from under the fence

New lessons I’ve learned: bring a hat or carry some suntan oil – being fried in the blazing sun for three hours does not go well when you have to run, stop, take photos, and move on.

A look at the cyclists from faraway

Unfortunately, despite the best planning, things do occur when you least expect them. It turns out that there was a clash somewhere along the track in the last few rounds, which was not visible from my position (I was waiting at the finish line). Another important detail to take heed is to be at the finish line so you can secure a good position for the finishing shot… which means that you’ll have to make instant decisions on the spot, which can affect the selection of photos you end up with.

Crowds cheer as cyclists cross the finish line

The next stage that will be taking place in Taipei will be the last round, with the goal up in Yangmingshan.


March 27, 2011 - Posted by | Good excuse for photos

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