I had nothing to do on this hot afternoon except take my youngest daughter out and show her what great fun flat track racing is. I had seen a flyer for the Sideburn meet at Rye House which is a spit from my house, but nowhere near the middle of my street. It is one of the oldest speedway ovals in the UK; a proper stewed tea and bacon sarnie venue for enthusiasts. Lovely. Naturally, I couldn’t go without a camera so I took the Mighty Fuji X100s.
I think I may be in love with this little box of wonders. It is as quirky as hell, for example it goes to sleep and can be a pain to wake up, requiring a few taps on the shutter release, or turning the thing off and back on. Or you may stick a fat thumb on the wrong button and get a different view whilst searching for the right one. The EVF (Electronic View Finder don’t you know) is nice but does slow things down a tad and I found the OVF -yep Optical View Finder – whilst not WYSIWYG (I can’t believe I wrote that but it did save me vital milliseconds) is faster and gets the job done right. I cannot tell you how pleased I am with these images taken in a not-really-concentrating-because-I-have-a-restless-10-year-old-in-tow kind of way. I can see myself using this camera for a lot more than casual snapping. The quality of lens and output is worth the hefty price tag. It now does most of the stuff I wanted from the original X100. More samples below….
Photo inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. But a collection of big fat picture books on one’s shelf is always an excuse to down tools and flick through the pages to replenish the ideas well. This is my latest and is available a few editions, the most expensive of which costs well over £1000! Won’t be using it as a coaster then….
It’s funny when folk call me a cycling photographer because I never really think of myself as just that. I’m just a photographer who likes taking pictures of subjects that stir and inspire me, and offer challenges. This commission to shoot new content for the vintage and retro store Adaptor Clothing fitted all those tags, along with the fact that I lived through most of these UK youth cults and so have a good idea of what went on! (I’m too young to have been an original Mod but my older brother was a Sixties teenager, so I covered all reference points!). The company is local to me which was great because I could scope plenty of locations, snap them on my phone and send them on for a swift yay or nay.
As it transpired, we found some great spots all within spitting distance of each other and the cafe and the car park so A LOT of material was generated! A couple of guys went home with sore feet after I made them jump off a high brick wall for the camera, but they ponced a couple of shirts to make up for it! The client called to say he is pleased. Can’t do better than that. Bring on the next challenge….
Funny old things photo comps aren’t they? I float in and out of them, usually entering on a whim or if I feel I have something particularly strong to show. I used to have a folder set up on my hard drive with the sole purpose of swallowing up potential comp images. Can you see the cobwebs? Still, this year some gentle badgering made me have a rethink and I actually got my bottom in gear to enter the Red Bull Illume competition (this pic of Willy White at Chatel was one category entry) and the pic of Rab Wardell and Nick Craig straight after finishing a race in the Malaysian jungle was another. I also filed a couple of images off to the PDN Faces competition, although, unlike the Red Bull affair, each entry costs money so I had to weigh up my chances!
Wheelbase Altura MGD captain Tom Barras prepares and rides. CiCle Classic 2013.
Drive by iPhone shooting somewhere in the Surrey Hills yesterday.
I’ve stored this idea ever since the iPad came out. The word tablet played around my head like a dried pea in a ref’s whistle. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I also knew the man who would fit the part perfectly. For a couple of years the idea festered – mostly in the back burner – until, during a meeting with Trek on a different matter entirely, I blurted out my plan. Strangely, Chris at Trek liked it. She worked it into her plans for this; Trek-Cyclimas PCT, the world’s first pro bike-riding commuter team. Ed Oxley, or Great Rock as he is known about Twitter parts and in his business, is part of the team and Ed has the best beard in biking. He also owns an iPad and so do I. The long drive to Hebden Bridge was most definitely on! But not before I visited my local fancy dress emporium and hired a biblical outfit. Not the exact colours of Charlton’s robes in the Ten Commandments, but near enough that you can tell the vintage.. Keeping it cycling, I picked up some Bontrager shoes and socks en route. We hit the Great Rock (Yes, there really is one above the town) and it was absolutely perfect for the shots. Couldn’t have looked more Heston-esque if it tried. The weather was amazing too, but bloody freezing. Ed was shivering like an chimp on comedown and I was leaking dew drops onto my LCD screen. But we both thought of what Charlton would do and soldiered on, lantern jaws jutting into the cold eastern wind.
I ran up the Q-Flash lights and fitted an ND filter to darken down the sky as much as possible, knowing that would help any post production work. For the top image, my good samaritan Neil Cain came to the rescue in that regard and performed wonders (getting into the spirit now) to send back this fantastic finished article. I asked for more lightning bolts, because, well, you can never have enough of ‘em can you?
Alex McKenzie turned up from Facebook and worked on this image of Ed in contemplation mode on the Rock. Cheers Alex!
Ed and I are working on the next session which will be the parting of the seas. We are looking at the Mersey or maybe Morecombe to Ulverston, but you’ll be the first to know. Bring your blankets, bedsheets and donkies and be a part of it! For more info and to see another shot from this session,along with others I shot for the project, visit www.procommuter.cc and follow @procommuteteam And remember Ed’s Commandments of Commuting are Carved in Stone….
First off the edit conveyor from the final stages of the Three Days of De Panne.
More and more these days I am commissioned to make stills alongside a video production shooting the launch of a new brand of bikes or a new team. Companies which at first may have thought that because the new DSLR cameras incorporate video they can ask one person to shoot both still and moving material, have realised that the two mediums need special and occasionally unique application. This is A Good Thing. Film making traditionally is a much bigger production and involves a team, whereas photographers are more generally lone shooters and don’t delegate work that easily. Shoots I did with Eastway Bikes and Madison Genesis are perfect examples. There was a call sheet so everyone was on the same page with regards timings and where they needed to be. And, on as cold a day as then, there was a large support vehicle and hot food and drink. I cannot stress how welcome – or vital- these are. Out in the backwoods on a long shoot energy levels can flag noticeably without a fed and watered team, with the corresponding wilting enthusiasm.
Although I am there in a somewhat peripheral way, to record the day which is about making a video to promote a product, I have usually found that we work for the greater good and that so long as there is a little mutual respect we can all come away feeling pretty content that a good job has been done. Very different from shooting an event where it’s every man for himself and sharp elbows are an asset!
And speaking of Eastway, it is great news that the Beastway Wednesday evening race series has, once again it seems, been rescued at the eleventh hour and will now go ahead in 2013 with the support of SIP Events and Privateer magazine. This will bring new blood and new twists to the popular London grass roots racing series. I’ll be at the top of the hill when the tape drops for sure. See you there.