Through a Lens, Damply

Oct 13, 2011 at 11:22
by Iain McConnell  

Last year was my first full year photographing downhill. Despite living in Wales, almost every race I went to was dry and dusty. Was it too good to last? You bet it was!


Charles Gay at Farmer John's Night Race:
Dodgy photoshop

I don't do much Photoshop work because I'm not very good at it and don't have enough patience, but this photo just looked like it needed something in the sky, and dropping in a full moon was too tempting. Back in the days of shooting film, a shot like this required a double exposure, changing lenses and a lot of trial and error, but it's a hell of a lot easier now. You youngsters don't know how lucky you are!



Steve Peat at BDS Round 1:
The first round of the 2011 BDS was grim weather. Seeding runs were cancelled after Matt Brown got stretchered off, so this was the only chance I got to photograph Steve that day. The photo was shortlisted for best photo from the round, which I didn't win, but have managed to get shortlisted for every round this year (the ones that didn't get cancelled!)

The first round of the 2011 BDS was grim weather. Seeding runs were cancelled after Matt Brown got stretchered off, so this was the only chance I got to photograph Steve that day. The photo was shortlisted for best photo from the round, which I didn't win, but have managed to get shortlisted for every round this year (the ones that didn't get cancelled!)



Jack Geoghegan at BDS Round 2:
Round 2 of the BDS produced the only sunny race of the year. This corner at Moelfre is great on dry afternoons, as the sun is at just the right angle to light up the dust. There were loads of photographers there producing plenty of great pics in the fine weather, so I was pretty surprised to make the shortlist again with this roosty shot of Jack Geoghegan. Still didn't win though!

Round 2 of the BDS produced the only sunny race of the year. This corner at Moelfre is great on dry afternoons, as the sun is at just the right angle to light up the dust. There were loads of photographers there producing plenty of great pics in the fine weather, so I was pretty surprised to make the shortlist again with this roosty shot of Jack Geoghegan. Still didn't win though!



Josh Bryceland at BDS Round 2:
This shot was taken on the section of 4X track that has been incorporated into the downhill track at Moelfre. There are 3 doubles, and it is difficult to maintain speed over all 3, so getting this height off the third is quite a feat, especially with the one-footer thrown in!

This shot was taken on the section of 4X track that has been incorporated into the downhill track at Moelfre. There are 3 doubles, and it is difficult to maintain speed over all 3, so getting this height off the third is quite a feat, especially with the one-footer thrown in!



Gee Atherton at BDS Round 2:
This was the first time I photographed Gee, and I think it wasn't bad for a first attempt. There haven't been many opportunities this year to take dusty shots like this!

This was the first time I photographed Gee, and I think it wasn't bad for a first attempt. There haven't been many opportunities this year to take dusty shots like this!



Michael Vickers at Pearce Cycles Round 2:
The track was so wet at Bringewood on the Saturday morning that the top section was practically unrideable, so Dave Pearce had to come up with a new section in a hurry. This new bit of track had never been ridden before, so there were plenty of opportunities for roosty shots like this, especially as Michael seemed to crash every time he passed me that morning (which he seemed suitably unimpressed about).

The track was so wet at Bringewood on the Saturday morning that the top section was practically unrideable, so Dave Pearce had to come up with a new section in a hurry. This new bit of track had never been ridden before, so there were plenty of opportunities for roosty shots like this, especially as Michael seemed to crash every time he passed me that morning (which he seemed suitably unimpressed about).



Harry Heath at Pearce Cycles Round 2:
I think this shot pretty much sums up this year's weather. The weather gradually worsened during the weekend, up to the point where the elites had to ride down in a wild hail storm. In the heaviest part of the storm, this rainbow appeared over the fire-road in the background which kind of made it worth staying on the hill and getting soaked.

I think this shot pretty much sums up this year's weather. The weather gradually worsened during the weekend, up to the point where the elites had to ride down in a wild hail storm. In the heaviest part of the storm, this rainbow appeared over the fire-road in the background which kind of made it worth staying on the hill and getting soaked.



Danny Hawkins at MTB Pursuits:
This was taken the first time I went to MTB Pursuits at Harthill to get some practice at photographing dirt-jumps. It overlooks the area around Chester, so is great for shots like this with a bit of scenery in the background.

This was taken the first time I went to MTB Pursuits at Harthill to get some practice at photographing dirt-jumps. It overlooks the area around Chester, so is great for shots like this with a bit of scenery in the background.



Aidan Brown-King at MTB Pursuits:
This shot was taken at an air-bag session at MTB Pursuits. Although it's not a great trick or anything, I just like the rather surreal feel that leaves you wondering quite was going on.

This shot was taken at an air-bag session at MTB Pursuits. Although it's not a great trick or anything, I just like the rather surreal feel that leaves you wondering quite was going on.



Elliot Machin at Pearce Cycles Round 4:
Elliot showing off to the crowd during his second race run

At the Rhyd-y-Felin race this year it was possible to take a direct route out of the forest, although only a few riders were brave/daft enough to choose this option. There's a lot going on here - you can just about see the dust in the left corner where the rider has taken off, the enthusiastic spectators in the background, the branches that are about to hit the rider in the face and the sign that makes you realise he is almost jumping over the Marshall Point. Although it's brought down to earth by the completely unimpressed looking kid leaning on the fence in the foreground.



Ryan Telling at Pearce Cycles Round 4:
Pearce Cycles 2011 Round 4

Ryan is one of those riders that always looks pinned whenever he is riding, sometimes you just have to sit back and wait for the riders to do their thing.



Mark Coyde at Eastridge Gravity Enduro:
661 Gravity Enduro 2011

This was the first Gravity Enduro race I have been to. I walked the track on practice day (12 miles!) and realised that on the morning of race day this really dusty corner would look good if the sun came out at the right time. After walking all the way back there on race day, the sun stayed in until the last few elite riders were passing, then finally came out for a few seconds, just long enough to get this shot. You riders don't realise how much effort we have to put in sometimes!



Will Brignal at Farmer John's Night Race:
Farmer John s Night Race

This was the first night race I have been to, and the practice was held as the sun was going down, giving plenty of photo opportunities. Will was one of the last riders down, so it was really dark by this point. The combination of dark sky and the spectral flare from the flash (which was accidental!) have combined to make a pretty surreal atmosphere.



Dave Wood at Moelfre:
Team No Bull

There are often paragliders at Moelfre, but I never seem to manage to combine photo's of them with photo's of riders, so I was pretty stoked to get them in the pic behind Dave, particularly with the one-footer thrown in for good measure.



Luke Griffiths at Pearce Cycles Round 5:
Pearce Cycles 2011 Round 5

Picking one photo of Luke from this year was quite difficult, as I have loads of pics of him showing off at various tracks throughout the year, but this is probably my favourite. As with most of the Pearce races this year, it was dry and dusty on practice day followed by heavy rain on race day. This shot was taken late on practice day and gives a good idea just how dusty the track was.



Matthew Forster at Pearce Cycles Round 5:
Pearce Cycles 2011 Round 5

I don't often take shots through vegetation, but the combination here of the track and tape leading up to the rider popping out of the dark woods seems to work quite well.



Jamie Scott at BDS Caersws:
Halo BDS 2011 Caersws

There was an extra BDS round this year after 2 previous rounds were cancelled due to bad weather. There was a short burst of sunshine on Sunday morning (long enough to take 2 photo's!) before the sky started to darken rapidly. This shot was taken just before the rain started, and I think it gives a sense of the impending downpour, which pretty much sums up the weather all year!

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33 Comments

  • + 18
 You have taken some fantastic shots this year keep up the good work.
  • + 7
 "so getting this height off the third is quite a feat"


Unless you are ratboy . . . then it's like peanut butter and jaaaaammmmmmm
  • + 3
 Inspiration for everybody!
  • + 2
 thats the next weeks worth of pods down the drain
  • + 7
 AWESOME shots, but I think the first one just looks wrong with the moon..
  • - 1
 Yeah, same thought here. That screws up the whole photo.
  • + 1
 it almost looks like the death star facing the other way (star wars reference for those who dont know what a death star is)
  • + 2
 If anyone needs to be told what the Death Star is they should be shot, and you should have put it in rather than the moon. Awesome shots btw.
  • + 2
 nice shots chief. im not a photographer at all but from a picture fan point of view i would say that the moon in the first pic is a too obviously photoshopped. i would say that a smaller version of the moon that is slightly blurred would work better. or just leaving it the way it is as there is some sunset light there that lights those clouds beautifully. also the moon takes away from the rider. just my thoughts. im not being mean Big Grin i waiting for some more cos your pics are ace.
  • + 2
 It would actually be significantly easier to produce an effective image such as the first in the darkroom than on a computer. Photoshop is far more difficult to use than a darkroom, it has far more ways to screw up.
  • + 1
 yeah cos darkroom colour printing is a piece of piss, not. it takes years to be good in the darkroom, and you need to learn it from someone who is very good. and i mean commercial good not pissing about at college or uni.
  • + 2
 Give me a roll of HP5 and a day, It'd look better in B&W anyway.
  • + 1
 i love the film v digi thing. film is nice but is not better or worse than digi. i learned on film as there were no digi slrs when i started. i have done darkroom processing and printing but i feel its too hit and miss and producing good quality and consistent results is hard if you dont spend years learning from a mater printer. yes a really good b&w wet print still looks better than an inkjet but its only a matter of time til this changes.
as for those people who make out they are real/better, more arty togs or their work is better as cos they use film, they need to wake up and smell the coffee. its all about what you shoot, not what you shoot on.
  • + 2
 awesome shots man, i really dig the one with dave blasting through the leaves, looks sick
  • + 1
 Whats goin on in Vickers photo?(#6) Looks like he
is riding right behind someone
  • + 1
 He's crashing into a pile of dead leaves on a track that was only created 5 minutes before Smile
  • + 1
 Ah nice lol
  • + 1
 Some of them look so unreal (like the roost shot, or the rainbow-in-the-rainy-almost-bottoming-out drop) but damn cool Smile
  • + 2
 so many PODS!!!!! love them all
  • + 1
 Great photos,well done!!!! Smile
  • + 1
 Great shots! What do you shoot?
  • + 1
 I use a battered old Olympus E-510 with kit lenses, manual flashes and cheap flash triggers from eBay. Might get round to buying some decent kit one of these days!
  • + 1
 Rainbow pic was the best.
  • + 1
 Think matt forester is gonna get crated!
  • + 2
 At least spell my name right wardy lol. But yeah, I can see it happening! It's not even as if I'm doing anything particularly impressive either. If I'd known old Mr turnip towers was hiding in a bush for this run I'd have been trying to get sideways and all that good stuff.
  • + 1
 Ohh shit, sorry man! Decent shot still! You still going to cannock weds? I got transport booked need to double check, but if i got it you can chuck your pick in if you want!
  • + 2
 lots of pod
  • + 1
 Very impressed, cracking shots.
  • + 1
 that first picture of me is awesome! cheers man!
  • + 1
 some of these are almost surreal
  • + 1
 And I only have 5 nominations!
  • + 1
 these are amazing!
  • + 1
 Cheers bro! Smile

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