March 2020 – Find below an interview with Tero Koski, our First Ambassador of the Sport in the category: (volunteer) expertise contribution (sub category: photography).
1) What kind of message do you want to convey to your audience when you are shooting at a swimrun event and can you tell us a bit more about how you manage to achieve that?
At the same time I like to objectively document this sport by taking anonymous pictures of swimrunners, about the environment, circumstances of the sport, separately show in what kind of nature you run and in what kind of water you swim, but then also I like to photoshoot the feelings of swimrunners: happy faces, tired faces, fatigued pose, scrambling in the mud and frighting jumps to the waves etc. But also I know how much people love this sport and I know they like to get some good quality high resolution pictures for themselves, that gives me the good feeling. I know so many of swimrunners, so it makes it also easier to get good photos of good friends. Good lenses are needed, to manage the depth of field, to control where you want viewers to focus their eyes.
2) How do you prepare for these events? Do you check out the course in advance to find the perfect spot? Do you bring every camera you have or just one? What are the selection criteria you use to make these decisions?
For these events I prepare by investigating the route in the map first. If I select the photoshooting location, the criteria might be how rough is the terrain, so can I see e.g. tired faces. One example could be the last uphill in Solvalla, Swinghill. Or can I easily see more than just one exchange between swims and runs. Also I prefer exit from the water rather than entering, in order to see faces rather than backs. In runs I prefer jumps over the obstacles like fallen trees.
About my gear: My camera is full frame DSLR, currently Nikon D810, not the lates model anymore but perfect for my needs. For the wide angle closeups, I use 14-24mm 2.8 lense. For zooming from the distance I might use 70-200mm 2.8. The same lense provides also very beautiful bokeh effect, i.e. to separate the object from the blurred out-of-focus background. If I cannot carry too much gear with me, I take my generic lense 28-300mm.
Couple of years ago I bought a waterproof pocket camera, Olympus TG series. This is definitely my choice when I swimrun by myself and take point-of-view pictures on the go. That is handy to carry under the wetsuit and it allows underwater photo shooting as well. Buttons and the user interface are faster to operate compared to the mobile phone. I have now taken that camera also to photo shooting gigs, like in Ötillö Malta and Folkhälsan Swimrun, where I jumped to the water to get some more feeling to swimming pics.
Personally I don’t have a drone and I have no plans to get one. But I’m still fan of the perspective what they bring compared to the mainstream photos. I have a friend who is easy to persuade to support me.
3) What do you like about swimrun photography and what got you started to combine swimrun with photography?
I have done photoshooting more seriously 15 years. It started from landscape photography. Of course I have had also other hobbies like modern pentathlon, fencing and still the trail running. I have always liked to photoshoot my hobbies or competitions of those sports mentioned. The same applies to swimrun.
In early days of my trailrun I was fascinated about the beautiful landscape what you can experience. But at that time the mobile phone cameras were not good enough, so I carried my huge camera, with the heavy lense in the rucksack when trailrunning in Nuuksio. I had to stop too often to capture the landscapes. But I liked to do it like that although I lost the running rhythm too often. In swimrun the moments and the landscapes are even more breathtaking. For me the pictures are catching the moments to remember: landscapes, seascapes, feelings, co-fellows etc. So even today every time I upload my sports to Strava, I always upload some pics as well. It’s my diary.
4) Is it difficult to shoot underwater and what advise do you have for people interested in this kind of swimrun spin-off activity?
I must skip this question because underwater photoshooting for me is so occasional. In Finland the waters are so dark.
5) What for you entails a good swimrun photo and why? How far do you go to get that perfect shot?
I take all of my photos in raw file format, which means I will edit and adjust the settings of each photo. That’s some basics of photography. I want my pictures to be technically good. In sports photo shooting I like to use faster shutter speeds to stop the movement, e.g. in swims the water drops. Thing to remember when you are photo shooting by the water is to keep the horizon straight!
For me the good swimrun photo is the one you see what this sport is all about: being close to the nature literally, stretching your limits in long distance laps, winning your fears of the black water full of monsters and experience all this together with your partner as a team. I know this sport so detailed it helps me taking better pictures. For me this is the perfect match to combine two of my favourite hobbies.
6) Do you have a funny story to share with us where something “funny” happened? Can you send 3 of your favorite SR photos and tell us why they are special to you.
PHOTO1_ALGAE: I’m concerned about the pollution of the Baltic Sea. We can see it in summertimes as blue-green algae aka cyanobacteria. That has already now affected to some swimrun competitions. This picture is from Kopparnäs, with Eva-Lotta Backman. We entered the clear sea water but in half way to the island we found ourselves in the middle of algae polluted water. Rather disgusting you must believe.
PHOTO2_MALTAFLIP: I was photoshooting last November in Ötillö Malta. The waves by the beach were so big, the sprint solo leader flipped around. Funny.
PHOTO3_REFLECTION: The Lake Haukkalampi was so calm, I love this reflection. Folkhälsan Swimrun 2019.
PHOTO4_JUMP: This was so funny, we had nice SR training in Nuuksio and we had a break while planning what to do next. Except Pekka, he just had to jump!
More of my pictures can be found in Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/tt_koski/albums
Wow Tero thanks a lot for your interesting and informative answers. Now we understand a bit more about SR photography when we see you out there on the course! We hope to see more photos from you in the future. They radiate swimrunspirit.
The SRF Team