Yesterday I got the chance to head down to the Tweedvalley to check out some of the Tweedlove cycling festival in the Scottish borders. I had been meaning to get done for the last couple of years to see what all the fuss is about with this festival and with the second round of the Enduro World Series taking place (the first ever round to be held in the UK) it was the best excuse to grab the camera and jump in the car.
The day started well when I got out of bed at 5:30 am to be greeted with this sunrise:
For anyone that doesn’t know what enduro riding is it is basically riders out for a full day (or 2 days for the world series) having to ride up some serious amounts of elevation only to then ride down again through timed stages (the transitions themselves aren’t timed but the riders do have cutoffs so they can’t hang around) and the rider with the lowest combined time wins.
Day 2 saw the riders riding stages at Glentress trail centre and on some old and some new sections of trail and here is some of the action I managed to capture:
And here’s a short video:
Well I managed to get along to the opening round of the Scottish Cross Country (SXC) Mountain Bike Racing Series 2014. This round was held in Forfar, well in the hills/quarry just south of Forfar.
I didn’t make it the whole day (had a birthday party to take the kids to in the morning) so by the time I got there the females race(s) were finished and they had already started the kids/junior races. Even the kids races were full of action (partly due to the brilliant course they had) and great to see so many youngsters pushing so hard and already being so good on their bikes.
Next came the men’s race(s) which to be honest I wasn’t prepared for, it was just full on racing (and I do mean full on) and it stayed like that for the full race. That was impressive enough until I then went round the course and discovered how many ups and downs there were and how technical some of the descents were.
Anyway enough words, here’s some shots of the action:
Oh and after all that racing the series of images near the end above show the 1st and 2nd place Mens Elite riders battling for the line – it took the timing chips to seperate them!
UPDATE – I have also put together a short video from the racing action which can be found here.
An update to my previous blog I have now created a gallery where prints can be ordered directly from the Highland Perthshire Enduro. Please check it out and pass it on so others can find and view it.
Seeing as I was already heading to Perth today I decided to take a trip up the A9 to Dunkeld to check out an event I was tempted to enter but decided against, seeing as I’m not that good on a mtb yet. Plus I had some new kit to test out, but more on that another day.
The event was the Highland Perthshire Enduro which was billed as an XC event over 49km with 4 timed stages (2 being downhills).
I ended up catching most of the riders come through the final section 4 and boy it was definitely a downhill stage, even walking up it to find spots to capture the action was knackering enough nevermind trying to get down it in one piece.
Here is a selection from the stage:
A bigger section of images can be found over on my Facebook Page here or if any participants want to see if I got any of them I can search through by numbers.
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.