Commack High School Boys Varsity Cross Country
Commack ran against Ward Melville and Sachem East in this cross country meet. I was hoping to get both the girls and boys since they started a few minutes apart but I the girls finished before I got back to the finish line so I'll have to photograph a later meet.
Photographing cross country is a bit like photographing golf; you have great backgrounds but they're dark so it's easy to overexpose your subjects. For that reason you need to dial in some negative exposure compensation. It was sunny on this day and even though the sun was low in the sky I needed a full stop of negative compensation at the bridge near the finish. The background was mostly shaded trees with dark foliage.
Other than that I try to position myself in an open area near the start and finish of the race, which are thankfully fairly close to one another, and avoid the dappled light when the runners are in the woods; this is just too time-consuming to post-process. Since the sun is low the light on the runners is vary warm. I like this look but if it's too warm for your taste you can either adjust the white balance in post or use an HSL adjustment to cool things down.
The runners will group into packs at the start but spread out by the time they get near the finish. That's why I like to shoot at both spots. You can get large group photos at the start but have a fairly good chance of getting all of them at the finish.