1.05 inches of rain, that’s how much rain fell the day before the race –in Salem. The race takes place at Santiam Horse camp outside the city of Gates which is about is about 1700 feet elevation up into the Cascade Range. When compared to Salem’s 214 feet, that means that orographic lift will play a part in impacting the rain fall. What is Orographic lift? It’s the effect that as air moves from the Willamette Valley towards Eastern Oregon, it cools and condenses as goes over the Cascades. The cooling and condensing of the air creates rain. This is why the west side of the mountains is very wet , and as soon as you get over the pass it quickly drys out. This dry side of mountains is called the rain shadow. This factor and knowing that Saturday’s forecast called for rain in Salem, I knew one thing about this race, it was going to be wet.
I was loading up my car around 6:20 am and took a moment just take in the morning. It seemed oddly calm, it wasn’t raining, just quiet. I finished loading up and made the quick drive across town to pick up Chris. A pit stop to get coffee and breakfast burritos at Joe Mocha and we were on highway 22 heading towards Gates.
On the way up we hit a patch of blue sky, how nice would that have been to not have to deal with the rain, but we knew that wouldn’t happen. We always come prepared with OP/Tech Rain Sleeves and ziplock bags for remote flashes for we do trail running event photography.
Once we arrived and set up the booth, I sent Chris out to the creek crossing we shot at back in 2012. Those shots came out great and with the rains we had yesterday I figured the water would be high and be an excellent photo opportunity. With Chris heading out to his spot on the trail I took some quick photos of the prizes and awards, and some of the set up stuff. I noticed a new sponsor which happens to be one of my favorite local business, Salem Summit Company. I haven’t been there in a while but my daughter is getting bigger and I plan to head in soon for this years camping and backpacking season, I recommend you check them out. If you seen the owner Al Tandy, at the running events shake the guy’s hand for finally bringing a great outdoor store to Salem.
I stuck around the start to catch some runners as they did a quick loop out and back through the start/finish area. This allowed me to get some more shots and thus more chances for a photo of a runner who is looking to purchase. The out and back route of the race that one spot gave me two different photos as well, one of the starting group and then individuals as they thin out for on the way back.
Once that was done it was time for me to set up the for the finish line. Finish line photos are tough because they pretty much all look the same. Since the Run Wild Adventures races are off-season races when there is always a chance of some element of weather. I like to highlight the elements as much as possible. This allows my trail running event photography to have a unique aspect to it that turns out a better photo that is more desirable to someone who often runs multiple events a month. Photographing rain and a 150+ runners consistently is tough, but due to the low amount of runners and overcast/cloudy day I can use flashes and not have to worry about battery changes. I set up two edge lights on either side of the finish light to hopefully show the rain in as it fell and to stop the motion of the runner as they crossed the finish line. Shooting flash means I’m limited to 1/250th shutter speed which is slow for moving subjects. I have to rely on the flash to freeze the action to create sharp images. Another factor that I have to consider is the sun, if it comes out and is very bright I’ll have to make adjustments, including stop using the flash. I added an on camera flash as well to add some fill even though I knew it could make some really nasty “spots”.The spots are created as the rain that fell near the camera gets lit up by the flash. I took a few test shots and it seem to be manageable.
The next step is composition for me, with the start/finish clock underneath the tent for cover from the rain I shot the finish photos without the clock, something I always try to include. I decided the leave the flashes in the photos as I like the way they look the few times I’ve done this technique before. Check out the photos a run at Detroit Lake where I use this setup HERE. A few shots test shots of a bystander and I was set for the first runner. Overall, I think the photos turned out pretty well.