No not in a figurative sense, but in a literal sense .. as in Downhill Mountain Biking!! My eldest son Patrick (Paddy) Dukes, has been partaking in his first DH mountain bike race season - season has been going well; so in an effort to build our own mutual portfolios I thought it would be good to spend some time with my son, and try to capture what it is he does!
I can't talk about the skill required to ride one of these machines (I'm much better when it has an engine), in fact the last time I tried DH MTB I face-planted the ground and had to have the inside of my lip stitched up!
However, I can talk about the photographic setup and a little about how I captured the above image, and some of the images that will follow.
The above image was taken in completely natural light - in fact, the sun was my biggest enemy. This jump was in a partial clearing, and as Patrick jumped, he jumped from shade to light into shade - what helped here was Patrick's ability to repeat the jump, anticipation, focus and the right settings to get the shot all come alot easier, if the setup of the shot can be repeated. It's a tiring exercise, I think he did this jump about 4 times in a row for me, here in natural light I used burst-mode to fire 2,3,4 shots - it still wasn't an ideal setup, but we used it as a warm up.
For this shot, we moved - lugging camera equipment up steep hills is hard work and also tiring, but the reward is worth it.
After a few trial runs, Patrick found the sweet-spot on this berm, he spread so fresh loam right into the apex just where he knew he could throw most of it up.
I used a Yongnuo Speedlight on a light stand with a black umbrella, silver side reflecting the light down into the corner. Patrick knowing where the sweet spot was on the corner, I used him as my muse to help visualise the action - without his bike, he stood on the corner, leaned over to where he knew he would be on his bike, and allowed me to measure the light and get the focus pretty much bang on. This is also how I setup the first shot above (at a different location) - wham! awesome shot after awesome shot .. this was working well.
The very first image above, was actually taken on the second day of shooting with Patrick, the first shot straight out of the bag. This time instead of using the umbrella, I used a small square softbox without the diffuser panel; and I was tethered to my MacBook Pro - first shot wham!!
The beauty of spending the time visualising and setting up the shots, and taking a little effort with some additional lighting - shots look awesome straight out of camera, really required no effort in post!
Make no bones, it's tiring work for the rider, it's tiring for the photographer lugging kit through woodland - but it is great fun!
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