Wednesday, 18 August 2021

More Free Download Events - inc Winchester, Southampton, Basingstoke, Brentwood, Cambridge 2021

listening carefully for the good news

Well we all need a bit of upside and good news, mainly because summer seems to have cancelled itself for August in a moment of madness (making training conditions IDEAL at the moment!), and frankly I don't want to be in a camping queue to Cornwall either. Nandos has run out (but strangely not in Northern Ireland or Ireland, so it's not a supply issue in Mainland Europe), and the Olympics are over, the Japanese Grand Prix is cancelled (how coincidentally), we brace ourselves for the start of October and the beginning of Brexit proper (when all the excuses for European companies not having to register for UK product standards end, and they decide they just can't be bothered to sell in the UK). On the upside - I'm not fleeing for my life from a highly intelligent, well armed religious extremist enemy either, nor begging for help after leaving all my worldly possessions behind. The only thing that separates ourselves from that is luck itself, and these days that's getting a bit thin on the ground too with Covid deaths actually higher than they were this time last year and we had eat out to get caught out.
But - enough about all that for now...

Are we at the Pit Stop yet ?

I'm sure this is just a hiatus in a school summer holidays that haven't quite happened as what I really needed a chance to rest and recover from the successful Mighty Hikes from July. My kids haven't really thanked me for the travel to many far and distant wonderful places to sit and watch the world go by - but Colchester Zoo was a high point !

Battle Unicorns at Colchester Zoo

So tell me (you cry) - what is the actual good news ?

ALL of these events listed below are now free images for the participants - with some significant fun to be had for many of you. It remains our goal to "make people happy (through sport photography)" and we continue being able to deliver all our 2021 and future events with free images. Suggestions on how we could make you even happier ? - always welcomed !

If there is one thing that we are seeing right now is "Covid Entry Anxiety" - many races are reporting slower than normal takeup and that in turn is affecting their pre-race budget planning. Perhaps you are waiting until the last minute to ensure their race entries are not dashed by the Goverment Covid plans, and then something else comes along anyway, or you're fine with your training motivation - because you've reset your running habits and you're happy with that ? Or just avoiding crowds is something you prefer right now ?

Choose the right event to avoid the crowds and get motivated

But remember there is nothing like a goal to motivate - many of these races are in the next few months - so a short term goal to get you back out there and plan those last four to five weeks properly (or indeed - badly) !! All the events are outside - and you should be able to make your own safe space when waiting prior to the race, or indeed - also wear a mask until you get running. 

So - what are you waiting for ?

Enter through the websites linked below !

Date Event Event Website
Sat-28/08/2021 Mighty Hike - Rob Roy
Sun-29/08/2021 Arundel 10k
Sat-04/09/2021 Mighty Hike - Jurassic Coast
Sat-04/09/2021 Mighty Hike - Lake District
Sat-04/09/2021 UltraX Summer Trail Series
Sun-05/09/2021 Southampton Marathon, Half and 10k
Sun-05/09/2021 Mighty Hike - Jurassic Coast
Sat-11/09/2021 Mighty Hike - Wye Valley
Sat-11/09/2021 REP Adur swim
Sun-19/09/2021 Winchester Half Marathon
Sun-19/09/2021 REP Worthing Aquathlon
Sun-03/10/2021 Clarendon Marathon
Sun-03/10/2021 Basingstoke Half and 10k
Sun-10/10/2021 aCR Islington 1 hour
Sat-16/10/2021 Cambridge Town and Gown 10k
Sun-17/10/2021 Cambridge Half Marathon

Entries for Brentwood 2022 only open in September - so you'll just have to be patient !

I'd like a race please...

Quality coverage

So what makes for good free photo coverage ? Just a finish line picture ?, or something on the course ?
We believe from our 17 years of experience that it means the following:
  • Enough locations to tell a story
  • A sequence of photos from each location
  • Context in the shots for the story
  • Got to get the finish !
  • A good gallery search facility that is 100% accurate
  • Well framed and aesthetically pleasing shots (and exposed correctly!)
  • Easy download to any device
I could go into more detail about this and how to do it - but I'd be giving away a load of company knowledge - gained through hard work over the years - if I did that here. Suffice to say a handful of a few hundred photos taken by some volunteers and posted onto facebook for you to surf through - isn't what you as a runner want, and nor is it going to make you happy if that race is advertised as "Free race photos" !

As more races claim "free race photos" - I'm sure to be explaining what that means for many years to come - so get with it sooner and make sure you see a known brand behind the races you enter ! (or ask the race if you don't know who they intend to do the work !!)

AI image tagging - does it work ?

AI or not AI tagging ?
I had the joy of being approached by an AI tagging company the other day too. A quick test of their system on their example gallery with a few random runner numbers showed up a runner with 20 photos from a recent event. Awesome ! but not. 4 of those photos were someone completely different. that's a 20% error rate for the runner. Not only that - those four photos won't get seen by the runner who IS in the photo. SO it's really more like a 40% error rate. The errors mess up the results for two sets of people - and it's a complete waste of the photographers time because unless it's magically re-tagged - it will never get seen. And who is going to re-tag it ? (I won't even start with being tagged as an out of focus background dude - which nobody needs in their official race photo packs).
AI basically does a statistical probability guess on the number, and there you go - it's "good enough" if you think someone only seeing 80% of their race photos is your aim !

But this is the thing - AI and face recognition software does "a" job, but not to my mind a "good enough" job, but then I've spent 17 years doing tagging. I know the errors and catch outs. I can read a number based on one corner of a digit, I know when to expect four digits instead of three, and I know when I can't see the last digit (yes leg number wearers - that's you that is). And I know when I have a sequence of shots - that the probability of the number being the one from the similar frames each side are the same number - or not. Or putting a whole number together from bits from several different frames. Or simply recognising them from earlier when we had figured out their number and now they've put a coat on. Software engineers working on visual recognition systems (or computational imagery) rarely even refer to the previous or next images in a sequence - which for the flapping arm or sheet of bib number - can make all the difference to you getting your race photos.

It's really a Galaxian, this is my favourite pic2go barcode

This is why we use the bespoke pic2go barcodes - because when they work - they are 100% right. and if it's not sure - it doesn't make a guess like AI or estimate like face recognition - it just serves up a "don't know" - and it leaves it for us to figure out. Obviously if people put pins and stickers onto their barcodes - then they won't work and then we end up getting more into the manual quality control - but that just proves the point even more - pic2go barcodes (or pictags as they are sometimes called) - work ! Having a computer guess statistically for you with 80% confidence levels - means you get 80% results. Not good enough if you're serious about supplying images to customers !!

Next time:
Free photos, race entries, quality coverage and accurate results ! what more do you want ? Live photos on the day ? Video snippets ? Yes we can do that too - with Pic2go technology - live photos on the day, and I can tell you more about that another time. Roll on having 5G everywhere though!!

Until then - make sure you have your final entries in for the Arundel 10k ( at the end of the month and we will see you there !

The Arundel 10k - which also runs through the Castle Gate set of Wonder Woman...

until next time, stay safe, train well !


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