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Background Check

Ashley Elias gets in an aerodynamic position on the bike portion of the Los Angeles Triathlon. The American version of the triathlon requires that athletes perform a solo time trail on the bike. No drafting. The background composed of an empty road behind Elias helps to convey this solo aspect of triathlons.

Solo, so much so that if it weren't for the bib number you might think Elias was on a long training ride. In the photograph of Frank Johnson, the motorcycle officer controlling traffic in the background helps to give a subtle clue that this is more than a training ride. I moved locations to find an angle that would allow for a composition with an even more interesting background. Frank Sarosdy came along on his way to finishing the triathlon in 2:02:25. The orange traffic cones going off into the distance was what I was after; the motorcycle cops flashing their lights while driving by at that moment was a bonus. Sarosdy's trance like stare of the six inches in front of him finished off the composition.

Even when taking photographs with a small aperture – blurring the background – I find it useful to do a background check. It’s not always possible to control the background, but as a photographer you can move around to find something interesting to fill the background.


Ashley Elias would finish the 2010 Los Angeles Triathlon in 2:38:05. Frank Johnson riding in a team effort for Team Supernova would have a time of 2:34:40. Frank Sarosdy would finish in 2:02:25.


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