Color Run Photography
The dude in the above photo blazed through the course, enduring barrages of colored corn starch thrown his way. This was the last blast endured as he crossed the finish line, winning the 5k.
A new flavor of races are popping up around the country with increasing regularity. Color runs combine large throws of a colored mixture and a 5k/10k. They typically aren’t timed runs. More of an all ages party/fundraiser on running shoes.
Photographing a color run can be hazardous to the health of your camera. Popular camera rental lensrentals.com has an informative post detailing some issues they’ve encountered with their rental gear. Petapixel has also had a few posts discussing potential issues one may encounter.
I covered a fund raising color run in Shreveport for Cohabitat Shreveport. I rent space from Cohab for use in my photo business. It’s a great place that is perfect for small business owners looking for some office space. To help them out I sponsored the run by providing photo support.
In this gnarly environment, you have a couple options to protect your gear. The first is distance. Use a long lens, 300-400mm, to get some distance from all the particulates floating around. If there is any wind…stay upwind! Large clouds of dust are generated and can travel quite a distance. I ended up shooting with a 70-200mm lens, mostly at 200mm in the throw zones. If I had a 100-400mm lens, I would have probably used that to get even more distance.
The second layer of protection is physical. On the cheap and easy level, you have the garbage bag and gaffer tape combination. I always have a couple of garbage bags and gaffer tape in my backpack. This method is also mighty handy for shooting in the rain. Punch a small hole in the bottom of the bag, put the lens through the hole, and tape the bag to the lens shade. With this setup you can put your whole head inside the bag to shoot and protect the camera gear. It works great. I’ve shot all day in heavy downpours of rain with no issues.
Up a level, you can buy dedicated rain gear. If I routinely shot in inclement weather or water, I would invest in this an Outex setup. It’s more expensive than the garbage bag…but gives you much more capability and protection.
Once the gear is protected its time to find the best combination of location, light, and action. The finish line had a gaggle of folks that were capable of launching massive amounts of color in the air. The location also had some great lighting that allowed me to use a high shutter speed to freeze all of the color in the air. Just as important….I was able to sit upwind. I was able to get some great action shots.
I didn’t spend the whole time at the finish line – I re-positioned mid race to a “throw free” zone. This allowed me to shoot some “standard” 5k images of runners already doused in color.