Island Cup Races 2015 Mid-Season Highlights
I've had the pleasure of taking pictures at many of the Island Cup races this season. Along with getting shots of some kick-ass action, it's been a great way to learn about nearby riding areas that I'd never been to, despite their proximity to my Comox Valley home base. Taking these pictures has also been a learning experience: the Cumberland Downhill race, for example, was an exercise in practicing how to get great shots of fast-moving riders under a dark canopy. Usually conditions like those in the Cumberland Forest lend themselves to blurry images due to having to leave the shutter open for a relatively long time, or noisy ones due to bumping ISO into the stratosphere. Luckily, though, I had recently acquired a set of Cactus RF60 speedlights and matching V6 Transceiver, and the Dodge City Downhill race was a great opportunity to put them to the test. (I had been using a set of Olympus FL-600R lights for over a year, but they were a bit under-powered for the conditions, and the trigger is optical and thus requires line-of-sight - not ideal when your light is over the rise or behind a tree.) Once I get more time with these lights I'll do a review.
In each and every race I tried something different in an attempt to push my photographic boundaries a little bit. Sometimes those experiments worked (hooray for lights and radio triggers in the dark forest!), and sometimes not so much (I never managed to get an overhead shot at a Cumberland bridge that I was truly happy with) - but at least I'll have expanded my repertoire either way.
LJ_20150419-_4191331Of course, there was pretty spectacular action in good light too. Here I'm using some out-of-focus foreground elements to frame the rider and give the image some depth. This is something I've only recently started doing intentionally.
LJ_20150419-_4191235And even in a rad downhill race, you can still find those "awww" moments. I had never taken pictures at a downhill race before, but I definitely want to do it again! The nature of the event - many racers passing by the same spot during their practice runs - makes it fairly easy to find a suitable location and work the angles until you get the ideal shot.
Of course, there was more than just the downhill race. I also managed to get myself to the Cumberland XC and the Nanaimo XC races. I was also physically at the Hammerfest Enduro, but just barely, due to injuries that left me hardly able to lift a camera.
LJ_20150412-_4129822Trying to get a bit of a change of perspective here: including the bridge details and the stream underneath to tell a bit more of the story. LJ_20150412-_4129544Red against green often works, and not just at Christmas. Also, offsetting the rider to give some visual tension, as well as leaving clear space for text. LJ_20150503-P5030447Crazy difficult shot with a unique foreground element. The rider is strongly backlit by the sun, so I used a speedlight at a very high power to illuminate his face, which would otherwise have been in complete darkness. LJ_20150503-P5030591Wendy Simms having a great time at the 2015 Island Cup Nanaimo XC race. Sometimes there's nothing for you to do except to be there and have a photogenic subject in front of your lens! 2015 Island Cup Hammerfest EnduroAgain, something different here. Used lights as before to fill in the shadows on the otherwise backlit rider, but this time my processing is a bit different than what I normally do. I usually keep my post-processing very neutral, but this series was done to give it a more cinematic feel. What do you think?
So what's next? Well, the XC finals at Campbell River is just around the corner, and you bet I'll be there!
Keywords: BC, British Columbia, Cumberland, Errington, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, athletes, athletics, bikes, mountain biking, sports
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