The Shot: Lonely suffering at the Giro

2016 Giro d’Italia, stage 15: Castelrotto – Alpe di Siusi ITT 10.8 KM

Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia was set in the heart of the Dolomites as an uphill time trial in the truest sense of the application. The course climbed relentlessly over 10.8 kilometers with numerous switchbacks, gorgeous evergreens, and fields along with the majestic snow-capped Dolomites towering all around. This stage should have been a photographer’s paradise … and for the most part it was.

We decided that I would capture the finish of the top riders while Iri stayed on course for the action. As we walked down the course from the finish line, I noted immediately that the finish line shot had great potential as there was a beautiful reveal of the riders as they crested the climb with only 125 meters remaining. We expected this to provide intense pain faces from the punishing nature of the course and the fact that it was set to be a critical test for the favorites. There was only one problem — the sun was behind the riders, creating backlit silhouettes and constantly changing weather patterns provided a diffused white sky, equalling an exposure nightmare!

In this case, the conditions offered two options: expose for the rider and lose the iconic Dolomiti background or work with the natural silhouette of the rider and try to capture the dominating mountains all around. In the end there was only one option … the rider. It always has to be the rider, they are, after all, why we are here.

The shot was near-perfect with Rafal Majka ascending the final meters out of the saddle and clearly giving all he had, as he typically does in his efforts. The helicopter hovering in the background over him was a bonus, adding that little bit of excitement, drama, and anticipation to the image. All in all, I was happy how the elements came together, knowing that as photographers, we were all in the same boat with this primary challenge of exposure. All that was left was to decide for ourselves what story we wanted to tell with our individual images.

Key image specs:
Canon 1DX
Canon 300mm f2.8L IS II USM
Focal Length: 300mm
1/1250 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 100
File format: RAW