Rowing in the Rain

The pouring rain made the Schuylkill River faster - and made my choice of equipment easy. I decided NOT to carry a long lens - a 600mm or 800m - to cover the 85th annual Stotesbury Cup Regatta competition.

This was the day of qualifying heats, so I knew the newspaper would only want one or two photos of the boys and girls senior eight crews. I also didn't know where I'd end up having to park, and enjoy wandering and shooting feature photos, so I only took my 300mm telephoto lens and a couple of zoons - a wide angle (24-70mm) and mid-range (70-200mm). Even though I sort of knew that covering the race with only a 300mm limited me to really wide horizontal photos.

Covering the event last year, I photographed a line of Canada Goose goslings swimming past a girls junior eight boat. This year I noticed, not just on the river, but even in my travels around the area, there seem to be fewer of the baby geese around. So I wandered the course looking for other photos until the senior eight heats began.

Because of road closings, I started out on Martin Luther King Drive, on the opposite bank of the river, and shot the boats after they'd rowed the 1,500 meter course, heading back to the dock.

You could also see the tents set up by the 5,000 athletes from 176 high schools along Kelly Drive. When you shoot from their side of the river, you get trees for a background. You might just as well be on a pond in the woods. Other than shooting from a boat - which ties you up for hours - the only way to show some of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 spectators is from the other side of the river.

Then before crossing over, I parked and walked up on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge... shoot from a different angle and investigate patterns in the water...

The race story is here, along with some - mostly skinny horizontal photos - of the leading eights. A gallery of photos by my collegeage Laurence Kesterson from the finals on Saturday is here - including an excellent team coxswain toss. He also didn't bring anything longer than a 300mm.

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