Cycling Photography Tips and Techniques

Cycling photography is challenging due to the extreme movement involved. A photographer must be able to effectively follow moving objects and have quick reflexes. To get the most out of cycling photography, panning and dynamic angles are the techniques you want to be proficient in.


To capture and isolate action from either the far end of the track or up close, you will want to use a long telephoto zoom lens. This is because most cycling events occur at indoor cycling tracks (velodromes). To focus on a small pack or single cyclist and compress the background, use a 300mm lens. The best lens setting in this case is continuous focus mode (AF-C Nikon/AI Servo AF).

Face focusing

In cycling photography, the struggle a cyclist is overcoming during a contest is best illustrated in the face. The cyclist’s fast-paced close-ups can only be done if you are ready. Choose the continuous focusing option (AF-C Nikon/AI Servo AF) after setting the lens to AF (which means auto focus).

Motion created by panning

De Fietser by BulliBos

Panning with the action is the best way to imbue your photographs with a sense of motion in cycling photography. Motion blur will be injecting in the background when you pan and track the cyclist as the shutter is opening and closing. To ensure the camera movement causes blur, set the shutter speed to 1/10s to 1/60s and turn the mode dial to manual mode. The shot can have blurred surroundings with the cyclist being sharp by using a tight aperture (f/8 is recommended). Throughout the closing and opening of the shutter, rotate with the subject after pressing the shutter release.


A concerted effort has to be made in order to properly frame background scenes. To ensure a deep depth of field (DOF) in cycling photography, you will need to use a wide lens with a small aperture (f/11 to f/16). An angle of view more expansive than the human eye is provided with wide-angle lenses. Using such lenses, you are able to create a dramatic effect that may not be possible when you look at backgrounds with the naked eye.

Trying different perspectives

For different perspectives, you should try other techniques. For example, when you are doing cycling photography, you can look for other details in the competition. A good place to start would be showing how the crowd looks like. Showing them reacting to various events of the race can be a good way of trying different perspectives.

Continuous mode shooting

Tour de Pologne 3 by Xzb

The high number of photographs you can take without switching out your recording medium is one of digital photography’s advantages. Use the continuous mode in your camera to capture 2-5 photos in a few seconds if you do not want to miss any action when doing cycling photography. For a blurred background when employing continuous shooting in cycling photography, use as large an aperture as possible. This will help you isolate a specific rider and capture their effort.

Settings recommended

To get harp images in cycling photography, you need to use high shutter speeds. If necessary, be prepared to choose ISOs up to 800. Adjust your aperture to affect the DOF according to your goal for each shot. You can decrease your DOF by using a wide aperture without a telephoto lens.

Recommended equipment

In cycling photography, different kinds of equipment are needed for different locations. For indoor photography, a telephoto lens is most useful, and you will probably want a monopod or tripod to support the long, heavy lens. To have the best of both worlds, buy a telephoto lens that zooms.


Though outdoor photography can be exciting, you can only get the money shot if you are prepared to move around with your camera. Furthermore, making sure you have the right shutter speeds, using a longs lens properly, being proficient in panning and following the above mentioned tips is the only way you can achieve dynamic and unique shots.


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