Making photographs, not just taking them – Dundee, Tayside, Scotland


So on the weekend I got to experience something completely new to me, my first mountainbiking event.  No I wasn’t taking part but instead I volunteered to go along and help out a friend who had agreed to photograph the event, 3 shooters is gotta be better than 2 right?

Boy was I glad that I wasn’t taking part!  After only walking around the course during the event I felt like I must have taken part, then again maybe not.  This was the first time this Muckmedden event had been run but the atmosphere was brilliant and very relaxed.  Even as all the competitors passed, clearly shattered from the huge effort the course demanded, they were all able to and willing to have a laugh and a joke as we photographed them.  I really hope that this becomes an annual event so that I can make it regularly, seeing as it’s almost on my doorstep in the Pitmedden Forest bordering Fife and Perth & Kinross.  I might even wonder further a field to more of these events if I can find the time.

A big well done to all those that took part.

Anyway about photographing the event.  Whilst I was happy enough with the 165 or so photos that I ended up with (from a total taken of around 220-230) I was kicking myself for not having taken my Speedlite with me.  Not having done one of these events before I wasn’t sure what I would need but thinking outdoors during the day then I would only need my 3 lenses and not the flash, surely?

Well it turns out that I really could have done with it.  In order to really freeze the riders and get good action shots I could have done with the flash.  But having said that the flash unit I currently have cannot do hi-speed syncing so wouldn’t have been much good as the fastest shutter speed I could shoot with would be limited to 1/200th of a second, I was needing to shot at 1/400th.  Not much good as I also needed to shoot at a wide aperture to give a shallow depth of field (in order to make the riders stand out from the background), this would have then resulted in having over exposed images.

The other issue is that the flash unit I have cannot communicate with the camera body (E-TTL) so I would have to manually set the power of the flash.  Not idea when shooting fast moving subjects in a changing environment as we moved from being under trees to open areas around the course.  In the end I made do with the onboard flash (yes I know as a proper photographer I should never use such a thing) whilst in the particularly dark, densely covered areas and it actually worked out ok.  Yes I was surprised by this at the time and I still am now, not that I will rely on using it again any time soon.

I still managed to get a large amount of decent shots and a few that I’m really happy with:

But maybe its time I caved and invest some money in a decent flash unit and I’ve learnt how invaluable they can be.

Note: all of these images, along with many more from me, Sarah and Ian (the PK Perspective peeps) can be found at PK Perspective Muckmedden images where prints can also be ordered.


One response

  1. Pingback: Sportive St Andrews « Craig Beattie Photography

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