The Tour de France is one of the most well-known bicycle races in the world, and has helped to make cycling a popular sport. Because of the speed involved, photographing cycling can be difficult. Photographers must be quick and able to follow the movements of moving objects. While static shots are fine, dynamic angles and panning are the best techniques to use when you want to make the most of cycling photography.

Zoom in

Individual cycling time trials at a velodrome

Velodromes are indoor cycling tracks that often host cycling events. You’ll need a long zoom lens with telephoto to capture the action up close. A 300mm lens will compress the background to focus on one cyclist or a small group. You’ll be better off using continuous focus mode (AI Servo AF Canon/AF–C Nikon) due to the long focal length and high speeds of the cyclists. The camera will focus while the subject, the cyclist, moves forward.

The Face is the Most Important Thing

Photographing a cycling event

A great technique for sports photography is to show the athlete’s struggle during the contest. This struggle can be best captured in the athlete’s face. The rider of a bicycle is always exerting himself, so a compelling photograph will show the sweat, the grimaces and the determination. You can expect fast-paced close-ups with cyclists. Set the lens to AF (Autofocus), and choose continuous focusing (AI Servo AF Canon/AF–C Nikon). Keep the sensor pointed in the viewfinder close to the rider’s eyes.

Pan to Create Motion

Road Cyclist

Cycling is a sport that involves motion. Pan with the action to give your photos a sense motion is the best way to enhance your images. You can track the cyclist and pan them while the shutter is open and closes. This will create motion blur, but if done properly, it will make the photos look sharp. You can change the mode dial to Manual mode and adjust your shutter speed from 1/10s to 1/60s. This will prevent blurring caused by camera movements. To ensure the cyclist’s sharpness and blurred surroundings, you will need a narrow aperture (e.g. f/8). To get the best effect, press the shutter release. Rotate with the subject through the opening and closing of shutter.

Pay attention to background

A cycling event - Le Tour de Langkawi, 2007.

Many road cycling events offer stunning backdrops that allow you to capture the action in beautiful settings. You must make sure that the background scenes are properly framed so they can be included in the race. To achieve a deep depth of field (DOF), you can use a wide-angle lens that has a small aperture (say, f/11 – f/16). You can position background objects in the frame to create dramatic effects that are not apparent with the naked eye. Wide-angle lenses offer a wider angle of vision than the human eye. These elements are given a whole new dimension when seen through a wide angle lens.

Try Different Perspectives

Your frame should be composed so that your main subject dominates at least the upper third. The lower part of the frame could contain something less important than the ground. This technique has a tremendous effect. This is the Rule of Thirds. It divides the frame horizontally as well vertically in thirds. Each plane can be made the center of the composition by making it left, right or middle. The image becomes more appealing and directs the eye to the right places by creating a narrower viewing area. Fill the lower part of the image with interesting objects to really impress your audience. You can add dimension and texture to your image by placing interesting objects in the foreground. But make sure that they aren’t any more important than the main subject. You can also try other perspectives. Photographing cycle races can be done in a variety of ways. You can also look beyond the competition to see the crowd. You can show their reactions to the race.

Shoot in Continuous Mode

Digital photography has many advantages. You can take a lot of photos without changing your recording medium (e.g. Roll of film for analog photography, or the memory card. You don’t want your camera to miss any action when the action is intense, fast and vibrant. To capture 2, 3, 4 or 5 photos in just a few seconds, use the continuous shooting mode. Continuous shooting is best for cycling photography. Use a large aperture to create a blurred background that allows you to isolate the rider and capture their efforts.


Because cycling is a fast sport, you will need to use high shutter speeds to capture sharp images. If necessary, you should be able to select ISOs as high as 800 (i.e. You can use 1/1000s to shutter, but digital noise is a trade-off. To affect DOF, adjust your aperture according to your goals. A wide aperture and a high shutter can reduce DOF without the need for a telephoto lens. If you use a telephoto lens, this effect will be even more noticeable.

Recommended Equipment

Different equipment is required depending on the location you are shooting. A telephoto lens will be most helpful if you are photographing indoors on a Velodrome. A tripod or monopod will be necessary to support the heavy, 300mm lens. A telephoto lens is also useful for outdoor cycling. A telephoto can zoom, which allows you to have the best of both. You can take sharper photos with faster shutter speeds by using high-quality lenses that are f/2.8.


Outdoor photography can be very exciting. Be ready to move with your camera in order to capture the best shots. To get dynamic shots with blurred backgrounds, you will need to be proficient at panning and using shutter speeds between 1/15s to 1/90s. To freeze action or movement, use shutter speeds between 1/15s and 1/90s. To get tight compositions, use a long lens and avoid flash. When using faster shutter speeds or in low light conditions, you should increase your ISO setting. To create stunning compositions, it is important to know where you are going to be positioned. This type of photography is a great option because cycling is one of the least photographed sports. To get striking photos, it is worth learning the techniques described here.