Friday, 13 July 2012

Colour and Pain

The pack rides past a field of sunflowers during the 199 km seventh stage of the 2012 Tour de France, heading toward La Planche des Belles Filles, on July 7, 2012. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Yes, the Tour de France is currently going into it's second week with the usual ingredients of colour, pain and drama. How many sports let you get right up next to the action? You can get close, sometimes too close to the race participants as one ambitious amateur photographer found out during an early stage. 

After standing too far out and caught up in his own photographic thoughts, the photographer caused a crash after a bunch of riders, bunched together in the peloton, found they couldn't go around him. A peloton is a delicate thing. One rider fell and more followed. Somehow the photographer managed to escape the chaos. 

That close relationship to the spectators is what makes the Tour de France what it is. As most other sports  seems to want to add distance between the spectators and events, the Tour remains the same. Pick a place by the road on the Tour route... and wait. That equal access evens things up for any budding photographer. There aren't that many sports where the pro sports photographer and the spectator can get the same access.

That said, you have to physically keep up with the action over the length each stage. A motorbike is the essential piece of kit with the photographer perched on the back. Balancing on a speeding motorbike while trying to get a photograph of the yellow jersey , as you wrestle with the bulky zoom lens, dealing with all the changes in the weather, looks rather a challenge and maybe even perilous at times. 

Check out the thrills and spills of the current tour HERE (loads of great images but i especially like image number 32). For a more ambient look at the Tour de France, have a look at Brent Humphreys images taken back in 2007. The riders may change, but the eccentric nature of the cycling fans and the race atmosphere does not. Brent's work can be found at www.projectletour.com

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