Photo Story: Andy Vathis' Year of Shooting World Cups on Film

Apr 19, 2020
by Andy Vathis  


Shooting World Cups professionally has been quite the fast-paced adventure. It’s a concoction of unpredictable weather, late nights, and lots of bread and cheese for the better part of the year. During a standard World Cup weekend, it’s not unheard of to bank 10k photos into the overworked hard drives. The reality about being shutter happy with high frame rates is that we rarely get to relive the drama that unfolds over those four intense days. Once photos are submitted to the teams’ Dropboxes and our recaps are up on the web, we’re usually hurried off to the next location. As you can imagine, it can be quite hectic to say the least.

I began shooting film simply because I was influenced by the stack of Transworld Skateboarding and Thrasher magazines I had collected as a young teen. We had a little neighborhood crew going and my parents let me use their old Minolta X-700 with whatever rolls of film we had hiding behind the cheese in the fridge. The local grocery store still had a one hour photo lab at the time - we would skate, shoot, and review in the same afternoon. As you'd expect, both the skating and the photos were horrible. Still, I kept trying different techniques as we looked for different ways to terrorize the neighborhood with our ratty boards.

A few years later, I added downhill mountain biking to the list of 'things my mother wished I wasn't doing' and began documenting the local race scene before and after my own race runs. I shot in colour with Fuji Superia 800 that you'd find in a four pack at the grocery store. I eventually took a few darkroom classes in college which led to me being obsessed with the chemical process of producing photos before attending university for photography.

I’ve mostly stuck by Kodak Tri-X 400 but the occasional Portra roll makes the cut. We can go back and forth about why not colour full time but it simply comes down to I can home develop and manipulate the chemistry since I’m usually pushed by a stop or two. As for the camera of choice, as mentioned above, I started out with a Minolta X-700 and recently purchased a Fuji TX-1, basically a Hasselblad Xpan for the Japanese market. It’s a panoramic 35mm rangefinder that shoots 24x65 aspect ratio. It offers a much more cinematic feel versus the standard frame lines and allows more information to be captured per frame. The downside to this all is obviously trying to figure out camera settings on the fly and focusing on moving subjects with a rangefinder. I put roughly 35 rolls through my camera this year and the hit rate is definitely a learning curve. Not to mention how much more fragile the camera is. Unfortunately, there are days or even weekends were it didn’t leave the camera bag because of inclement weather.

I’ve been slinging along my film camera with me since my first time throwing on a photo bib. It was, and still is, regarded as my journal, documenting the in-betweens of life on the circuit. The collection photos bellow are an extension to the digital work created week after week of being on the road in 2019. If a moment is missing from the timeline, it's not because I didn't shoot, or at least didn't want to. I'd chalk it up to wanting to protect my camera from the weather or the magic of film - i.e. it just didn't pan out for whatever reason related to the process. That's why we work with digital and play with analog, right?

Unfortunately a sight yet to be seen this year for most of us quarantining at home waiting on the green light.
Unfortunately a sight yet to be seen this year for most of us quarantining at home waiting on the green light.

Haley Smith s long awaited first podium finish happened in Nove Mesto after a powerful performance.
Haley Smith's long-awaited first podium finish happened in Nove Mesto after a powerful performance.

Mathieu van der Poel waiting his turn to be called up to the top spot of the podium at round one in Nove Mesto.
Mathieu van der Poel waiting his turn to be called up to the top spot of the podium at round one in Nove Mesto.

A mud soaked Henrique Avancini takes a moment to compose himself after the downpour in Albstadt.
A mud-soaked Henrique Avancini takes a moment to compose himself after the downpour in Albstadt.

Scotland s Highlands are worth the drive up to Fort William.
Scotland's Highlands are worth the drive up to Fort William.

Pregame stretches and routines under the Fort William deck for the young Ethan Shandro.
Pregame stretches and routines under the Fort William deck for the young Ethan Shandro.

A practice was about to begin for Loris Vergier and friends in very wet Fort Bill.
'A' practice was about to begin for Loris Vergier and friends in very wet Fort Bill.

VitalMTB s Sven Boris and Dan burning the midnight oil way past midnight.
VitalMTB's Sven Martin, Boris Beyer, and Dan Hearn burning the midnight oil way past midnight.

Anything to squeeze extra performance out of the tires in the Fort William monsoon is worth trying.
Anything to squeeze extra performance out of the tires in the Fort William monsoon is worth trying.

Leogang s epic backdrop.
Leogang's epic backdrop.

Rachel Atherton getting into the zone in Leogang.
Rachel Atherton getting into the zone in Leogang.

Danny Hart going through his line choice while warming up for the big fight.
Danny Hart going through his line choice while warming up for the big fight.

Finn s wheels getting some much needed love in the Specialized booth.
Finn's wheels getting some much-needed love in the Specialized booth.

Last to start in Leogang was Greg Minnaar. He would be within the same second as Loic Bruni but ultimately settled for the number two spot.
Last to start in Leogang was Greg Minnaar. He would be within the same second as Loic Bruni but ultimately settled for the number two spot.


Nino Schurter changing into a clean pair of stripes. His power and hunger were truly on display in Andorra after recovering from a late race miscalculation only to claw back in dramatic fashion.
Nino Schurter changing into a clean pair of stripes. His power and hunger were truly on display in Andorra after recovering from a late race miscalculation only to claw back in dramatic fashion.


Lungs full of dust for Carlos Coloma back in Vallnord.
Lungs full of dust for Carlos Coloma back in Vallnord.
Anton Cooper and Jon Rourke having a chat post race.
Anton Cooper and Jon Rourke having a chat post-race.


First time back for the circus and Steve Peat in Les Gets. His 2004 visit is a tough one to forget after being so close to wearing the stripes for the first time. He would eventually come away with the champs jersey in Canberra five years later.
First time back for the circus and Steve Peat in Les Gets. His 2004 visit is a tough one to forget after being so close to wearing the stripes for the first time. He would eventually come away with the champs jersey in Canberra five years later.

Fabien Barel congratulating Amaury in Les Gets.
Fabien Barel congratulating Amaury in Les Gets.

A police escort for Amaury Pierron after his huge win on French soil. The crowds were denser than a Beatles concert.
A police escort for Amaury Pierron after his huge win on French soil. The crowds were denser than a Beatles' concert.

Avio is one of the many castles overlooking vineyards scattered across Italy s Trentino region.
Avio is one of the many castles overlooking vineyards scattered across Italy's Trentino region.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot exhausted after drag racing to the finish and taking the win over Jolanda Neff in Val Di Sole.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot exhausted after drag racing to the finish and taking the win over Jolanda Neff in Val Di Sole.

Marine Cabirou earned her first win at a World Cup in Italy last year with a commanding 11 seconds over the field.
Marine Cabirou earned her first win at a World Cup in Italy last year with a commanding 11 seconds over the field.

Laurie Greenland putting in the final touches.
Laurie Greenland putting in the final touches.

Greenland up there with the big guns waiting for the ceremony to get underway.
First World Cup win for Laurie Greenland as he waits for the ceremony to get underway along with some good company in Italy.

Finals day prep in the Saracen pits. No overlooking details here.
Finals day prep in the Saracen pits. No overlooking details here.

Details details details in the Kona pits.
Details, details, details in the Kona pits.

The legendary Stelvio Pass right as the storms cleared out. Nathan Hughes and I decided it would be a fun place to visit and skate while on our way to Lenzerheide.
The legendary Stelvio Pass right as the storms cleared out. Nathan Hughes and I decided it would be a fun place to visit (and skate) while on our way to Lenzerheide.

Jenny Rissveds made her return to World Cup racing in 2019 after a two year hiatus and absolutely crushed it. Her emotional victory in Switzerland came after already amassing two podium finishes earlier in the year.
Jenny Rissveds made her return to World Cup racing in 2019 after a two-year hiatus and absolutely crushed it. Her emotional victory in Switzerland came after already amassing two podium finishes earlier in the year.

A collection of bodies after every XC final is a common sight as the back end of the field trickle in.
A collection of bodies after every XC final is a common sight as the back end of the field trickle in.

Myriam Nicole victorious in MSA. This was her first race of 2019 since her injury in the off season had her sitting out.
Myriam Nicole victorious in MSA. This was her first race of 2019 since her injury in the off season had her sitting out.

Kate Courtney taking the overall in her home country after a season of ups and downs.
Kate Courtney taking the overall in her home country after a season of ups and downs.

Loris Vergier congratulates an emotional Loic after solidifying the overall in West Virginia.
Loris Vergier congratulates an emotional Loic after solidifying the overall in West Virginia.

The Men s DH Final in West Virginia was an absolute nail bitter. The overall hung delicately over the heads of the two most passionate athletes and yet was decided by neither of them.
The Men's DH Final in West Virginia was an absolute nail bitter. The overall hung delicately over the heads of the two most passionate athletes and yet was decided by neither of them.

More of this soon please Take care everyone
More of this soon, please? Take care everyone!



53 Comments

  • 34 0
 Something about that film! Wow!
  • 19 0
 great photos, so nice to see that panoramic format. looking forward to see what comes out of that mamiya 6 i sold ya
  • 6 0
 Ah no way! I've already put a bunch of rolls through it super stoked! Hopefully this season gets underway for some more content eh
  • 1 0
 @andy9: Great stuff Andy.
  • 3 0
 I love film, in fact in my opinion, its the best photo medium there is..but I can't seem to wonder what some of the settings were for these shots, or if most of them were shot using the green box or pulled settings from digital stills prior. Again brilliant photos and I wish more photographers would pick up the film cameras for shots such as these. Great work Andy!
  • 4 0
 To be fair, when I first got the camera during the 2018 season, I played with both the 'green box' and setting the dial myself and quickly realized I got really inconsistent results when not doing the work myself. The situations and light changes so quickly that the meter goes nuts, especially when what I want to shoot is backlit.
  • 3 0
 something about that panoramic format! excellent work. funny, i just dove into an x-pan rabbit hole the other day after dusting off my hasselblad 500cw and my leica m4p and dreaming about shooting around with the x-pan. i haven't bought film in a few years as i have a stockpile in my fridge, but after checking local prices today, yikes! but this post further inspires me to get back to burning some film more consistently again!
  • 3 0
 I owned both the Hassy xpan and a Mamiya 7ii with full set of lenses and sold them in 2013 because the prices were tumbling and I needed to move into more serious digital work. Boy, I was not expecting to see the prices of today. Wow.
  • 1 0
 Came here for the film camera nerdery...did not disappoint. What film are you stockpiling for both of these?
  • 3 0
 @lpat1717: speaking for myself, I keep a freezer full of Fuji Acos 100, Neopan 400, TMAX100 for BW in 120 and 35mm. Color, I keep Portra 160 and 800 and 4x5 sheets of Ektar 100.
  • 2 0
 @lpat1717: i have acros 100, provia 400, tri-x, and portra 800 in both formats in the fridge. i also have a bunch of fuji pack film waiting for when i finally fix my land camera.

what you shooting?
  • 1 0
 @Klainmeister: i can't believe the prices on film gear these days! there's hope for more of a resurgence yet
  • 1 0
 @thegatheringdarkness: Oh very nice there. Portra 400 is the bread and butter for me. Love the Tri-x and the Illford XP2 for B & W and the HP5 for the occasional 4 x 5. Have not done a lot of 120 but I did love the few rolls of Portra 800 I have shot. I have been trying to find a Mamiya 645 to get my hands on but dear god they are expensive these days! How do you like that M4-p? I have an R3 that I'm in love with, but its no rangefinder w/ M glass.
  • 4 0
 @lpat1717: Don't overlook the Bronica stuff. I have a Bronica S2a setup that is equally as good as my much newer RZ67 and at fraction the price. Lenses made by Nikkor.
  • 1 0
 @Klainmeister: Love this. Thanks for that recommendation!
  • 1 0
 @lpat1717: the leica for sure lives up to its reputation. the lenses are amazing, and i love how it handles. there's something about the weight. it's heavy, dense, and it oozes quality. and the shutter sound...
  • 2 0
 Stunning! I can't imagine how tricky it must be to capture some of these moments using a range finder, I occassionally pull mine out to shoot for pleasure but it takes me 10-15secs to nail focus on my subject. Please keep capturing on film! #filmisnotdead
  • 5 0
 Gorgeous photos, congrats on all of those.
  • 5 0
 Awesome captures Andy. Always enjoy some genuine film pics.
  • 3 0
 Amazing photos. It is a strange thing though, to go to the trouble to shoot in film, only to re-digitise it to upload to the internet for viewing through a screen
  • 6 0
 Thanks! And agreed but in a perfect world, I'd be able to use my darkroom equipment and have you all over to see my work. Up until it fire up my scanner, the process still holds true to being analog.
  • 1 0
 Cool! I've actually got a Minolta X-700 too. I bought it back in 2007 or so though after 2012 when I got a mirrorless digital camera because it still allows me to experiment with settings yet without wasting money on film and development. Until then though, using film was cheaper simply because it was these cameras were incredibly cheap (got it used with a f1.7 50mm lens for fifty euros or so) and accessories even more so (set of macro rings for ten euros). You need to burn a lot of film before you've wasted enough to say an equivalent digital camera would have been cheaper. But yeah I still have it and love to use it occasionally. It just takes beautiful pictures, it is nice and compact and it is joy to work with. I just wish shops would allow me to just develop the film without also requiring me to buy the prints. Or well they do but then they suddenly charge a whole lot more for development alone.

Either way, it really is fun shooting film with a simple camera like this and I should use it a bit more again. Thanks for the heads up.

Just wondering as I think I don't need to have prints of everything (especially the failed attempts) I make, I thought it still is nice to be able to scan my pictures. What would you say is better, a film scanner to scan the negatives or just have them printed anyway and then scan them on a flatbed scanner?
  • 1 0
 Hey! Thanks for the insight on your process. The film photo industry has definitely gone through a few changes over the last decade, it's crazy! It's also bizarre that a photo lab will charge you more for just the dev. I'd say find another source even if you have to mail your rolls in. Otherwise, way better to get a flatbed scanner and do it yourself vs just scanning prints. Way more control over your images!
  • 4 0
 Love the photos from the TX-1. Awesome to see mountain biking on film
  • 2 0
 Beautiful work. These shots would be winners in any medium, but film plays so, so well for moments like the ones you've captured here.
  • 1 1
 'Unfortunately a sight yet to be seen this year for most of us quarantining at home waiting on the green light.' Ridiculous... we are super happy that we cant fly, its saving the planet. We should use this as a reason to cancel International MTB and keep everything at National level, maybe even do some of this DH console games instead....
  • 2 0
 great pic of jenny, may we all get to lay on the ground in public, crying, exhausted and very happy.
  • 2 0
 wow
A whole lot of power (or simply LIFE) in those shots. Thanks
and lets hear-it for 24+65
  • 3 0
 So many iconic photos in there. Timeless.
  • 1 0
 Some incredible shots here!
The drama captured by film is sooo much better than digital.
That castle & Leogang backdrop pics...
  • 2 2
 Did anyone else start singing, in their head, "cups on film" to the tune of Duran Duran's "girls on film"? Anyone...? No? Just me. Common ya POMMY bastards, admit it!
  • 2 0
 Beeeeautiful shots habibi
  • 2 0
 I’m a big Andy Vathis fan.
  • 1 0
 Beautiful photos Andy! Love that you’re keeping film alive on the WC circuit. The wide image ratio is superbly cinematic
  • 1 0
 WOW THANK YOU I HAVEN'T ENJOYED SCROLLING THROUGH PHOTOS SO MUCH MUCH IN A LONG TIME. KEEP THAT FILM ROLLING!!
  • 1 0
 Always enjoyed your point of view! Keep up the great work, and amazing shots!
  • 1 0
 B&W has soul ask Cartier-Bresson
  • 1 0
 Great photos, really like a casual Danny spinning away in his sliders.
  • 1 0
 So many great photos in there, thanks for the share!
  • 1 0
 Amazing pics, I do miss color though.
  • 1 0
 So good Andy!
  • 3 4
 Some riding shots on film would have been nice
  • 5 0
 Here you go. I have been shooting local bike stuff on film a lot. Mixture of Provia, Ultrafine Extreme 400, and Portra 160/ 400. This year I bulk rolled 100 feets worth of Ultrafine and Delta 100 for my F4 and F5. Still have it in the fridge to use whenever things get going again. No chimping. Just framing and trusting you have the bits and pieces in the right place.
www.pinkbike.com/photo/17974002
www.pinkbike.com/photo/17974139
www.pinkbike.com/photo/17974080
www.pinkbike.com/photo/17974034
www.pinkbike.com/photo/17973952

The metadata all says D610/ 60mm macro because I 'scanned' them with that setup.
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: without taking a look.. using filmcharts like it8 to reproduce correct values and saving the tonecurve? Same question goes to Andy Vathis.. Here it comes to the point, in my mind..
  • 2 0
 For scanning, I use the Silverfast software but get my ideal values in PS. The only steps done pre-scan are an unsharp mask and a few tweaks to pull as much info as I can from the image. Outside of dust removal, the images are basically out of camera. I achieve a lot of my contrast and 'look' through chemistry. I do wish I was able to show this work as darkroom prints but then I'd have to digitize them anyways to post here so..
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: are you using negative lab pro for inverting your colour shots?
  • 1 0
 @dws2384: I do. I have switched to just using my CanoScan. Honestly, the difference in quality is negligible and the CanoScan takes care of everything, including dust. Saves my back as well. Since I have started bulk loading, I am pretty much only shooting B&W now so NLP is a bit redundant. I can take the TIFF scan from the scanner straight into Capture One, dodge and burn a bit, and then export.


@andy9 I love seeing the film shots! I am hoping that when the season around here kicks up again, I can start burning through some.
  • 1 0
 @NiklasRausch: I scan and invert tones to convert negative to positive. Then do basic dodge and burn and then leave it at that. I do not mess with color balance or anything like that. Unless you are in the dark room taking negative to enlarger to paper, everything is messed with, especially color. Every scanner (Noritsu, etc...) applies some level of customization to the original frame.
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: ahhh. I see. I went the opposite way and got rid of all my scanners and went to NLP and digital camera scanning. There are some good deals for bulk loading colour too. That’s mostly what I do. Lots of amazing cinema films you can do it with.
  • 1 0
 @dws2384: I have shot a decent amount of the Vision3 Kodak stuff. It is really nice stuff but I think I prefer color for digital and B&W for film. Post up some of your photos!
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: IG is Fleeja_ whats yours?
  • 1 0
 @dws2384: Just followed you
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