Could I see myself as a mountain bike photographer?

As Easter 2018 has come and gone and that officially marks the start of my career as a photographer and filmmaker. Even though I have taken it on since finishing school in 2014, I haven't had the amount of freedom to consistently do so.

Within mountain biking, one of my first opportunities to "professionally" take photographs, meet athletes and the rest of the community was the 1st round of the 2018 Southern Enduro series. This event was down in the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Hampshire. I think I prepared correctly by charging my cameras, formatting my SD cards, leaving early so I get down there for 9am, so I can scope the area out for the best shooting location for the day, etc.  ... I wasn't!

I made the mistake of going to the main QECP visitor centre and car park and although there were mountain bikers around there wasn't enough for it to seem like a big enduro event like Southern Enduro. I stupidly paid £5-10 for a full day parking as well and wasted 20-30 mins waiting for something resembling an event to happen but it didn't. So a quick check on the Facebook event page and I had got the wrong area to the QECP, meaning I didn't get to the event until 9.45am and so didn't have time to scope different shoot locations. But hey I learnt from it.

The 2nd mountain bike event I attended as a photographer was the 1st round of the 2018 Pedalhounds series, where although it took me a while to find the event in East Meon, I had set earlier so I had time search around and find 2-3 spots to take to photograph riders. However I forgot to pack and bring a small camping chair to sit on so that when there is a long break in riders< I can have a seat and rest for a bit. 

Anyway thats enough writing/reading for a blog post today I reckon so here enjoy some of the best photos 

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Basically the answer to the question is YES PLEASE! Not only have I really enjoyed photographing the last 2-3 mountain bike events here in the south east of the UK but I think I have pulled off some pretty solid photos. I even continually get some sold through my Roots and Rain profile.

https://www.rootsandrain.com/filters/en,gb

 

anyway Cheerio for now. I shall be back very soon

Ray Petty Meccanica - November 2017

After my US West Coast trip in October 2017, I was able to find a gem of a motorbike repair shop in Greenwich. I stumbled upon Ray Petty Meccanica during a bike ride (a break from being in the flat all day) one cold dark, but dry Friday evening. 

As someone who within the last year or so, especially who is frequently on the discover page on Instagram (seeing what the rest of the world is up to), I have grown a strong passion for specialist "cafe racer" style custom bikes, which Ray Petty where clearly into. After a quick Google, website and Instagram stalk, I got in touch and asked if I could take some photos of the bikes, workshop and people involved, for free, which they were happy to let me do on 2 occasions.

Below are some of the photos I captured on both these occasions. I hope you enjoy them

Its mid February at the moment and I am going to get back in touch to see if I can get involved again and maybe work on some more bike showcasing style photos (like seen on @bikeshedmc, @autofabrica & @losperdidos_ on Instagram). I hope I can take these passions of mine further throughout the next few years here in London. 

Cheers

Cine 1071 Evaluative Vlog

We started brain storming and thinking about ideas over the summer holidays and were able to pull a good team together only a few weeks into our 3rd year. The idea for our film came from Jenny our producer after she had seen the film ‘The Line’ on Shorts of the Week and we basically re-worked this film into our own original story.

As our films cinematographer, much of my time during pre production was spent researching similar films and shows like The Divergent film series and The Aliens tv show for technical and creative decisions taken on.

On completing my report I had already some thoughts and research about ‘The suitability of a "one shot scene" in a short sci-fi dystopian film’ that I would use to determine which parts of our film to use with this technique.

Taken from 'Children of Men 2006 Long Take 3' uploaded onto YouTube by My Favourite Films on Apr 6, 2014 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjFHqohaHYU&t=19s)

Taken from 'The Player opening scene' uploaded onto YouTube by EclecticGlue on Aug 13, 2008 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0epB5Z6ijpk&t=223s)

Consulting our writer and director, Ellen, we had some ideas to use it during the cafe scene where Olivia, our main character, rushes out and then notices Grace. Also we thought if we could pull of a ‘one shot scene’ during Garrick’s statement to the group that isn’t too much of a boring shot to start off with then we would be able to hold the audiences attention. 

Above —> Screen grabs of Garrick’s statement in the warehouse scenes

Our thought process behind a planned ‘one shot scene’ for Olivia rushing out the cafe involved things like whether or not it would be done handheld, which would help the emphasis of Olivia being rushed or on the steadicam, which would be smoother. Ellen and I even thought about shooting the scene using a close up with an 85mm lens as this could make the audience feel like Olivia is more focused and has her adrenalin pumping. 

Production started on the 20th February and shot our cafe scenes on Monday 13th March. I had done some location scouting on the Friday before as not only was the location secure at last minute but I wanted to check out if a steadicam shot was possible. I was able to collect some photos of the cafe of which to relay back to the rest of the team and for Ellen and I to look over before our shoot to confirm whether or not a steadicam ‘one shot scene’ was possible.

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Above —> A photo and video I took whilst on a location scout at the cafe

From the photo and video above you can see that there is a clear walkway that I did walk down with the steadicam following Olivia rushing out of the cafe. It was a bit tight but with the help of my 1st AC, Sohaib helping me to make sure I didn’t run into any tables or chairs, we were able to pull off the shot below.

 

My most liked instagram photos from Q3 & Q4 in 2016

So I thought I would compile a bunch of my most liked instagram photos from the last 1/2 of this year, 2016. That is for photos I posted from 1st July to 31st December. I feel it might be a good way for me to see what photo's people enjoy and thus help me close down what I should try and take my photography in the future.

But before I do, I want to say that I know that the time of post, the quality and amount of hashtags do come and how many people I tagged and who/what they were into play when measuring likes. But for now, as I want to keep doing something like this going I will, starting from January 2017, take note of the date and time of instagram posts. 

 For your eyes only // #chamonix #aiguilledumidi #climbing #mountaineering #alpinism #epictv #adventure #adventurephotography #nikond7200 #adobelightroom #scarpa #mammut #millet #arcteryx #petzl #sunday

Total likes - 83

Total likes - 52

Total likes - 87

Total likes - 76

Total likes - 59

 

Lastly I want to ask what do you think a 'like' on an Instagram photo means in 2017? Comment in the comment box below so I can find out what you guys think.

Cheerio

The Shadow Campaign 'The Warmth of Winter' Film Review

The Shadow Campaign’ is a series of 4 short films for DPS Skis in partnership with Outdoor Research & GoreTex. Directed by Ben Sturgulewski, these longer form film series mate features from traditional filmmaking and television shows, viral, commercial and branded video to create what I think is where the future of content and media could be ending up.

Below is the film in question I am reviewing today

Directing

Sturge Film founder and director Ben Sturgulewski is an Alaska based; award wining director and cinematographer who has won prizes such as Powder Magazine's coveted Movie of the Year Award. It was true that people in the ski, action sports and film industry were expecting big things, but big things were definitely given! With an online branded film series like this where DPS Skis and Gore-Tex are essentially Ben's only major investors, the brief of creating 'an annual line up of fresh artistic festival worthy film shorts released online' which still respects and shows off these brands in the correct way is no easy task. 

I would like to start by focusing on the title of this episode in the film series, 'The Warmth of Winter'. Most would say that its total nonsense. How could winter, known for being cold wet and dark, be warm? Well to answer and put straight your fuss, the idea behind the title is in fact how when winter and the ski season arrives on ski resort and mountain doorsteps, the ski community once again can rejoice in their shared passion once again and from that a lot of love, belonging and warmth is felt between community members. After the release of 'Valhalla', of which Ben took several roles in, during an interview with Coldsmoke Winter Film Festival, Ben brought up that ‘the average skier doesn’t really connect with’ people hucking cliffs and doing all these crazy freestyle tricks.

Editing

I am not one to rightfully comment on a films editing as this skill of mine is still in its infancy, but I will say a few things. Firstly I really like the cuts and transitions that were chosen in this film. They are slow, gradual interlacing transitions that help amplify to its audience of its dark, mysterious and new tone to action sports and ski films. The films colour pallet is such that it amplifies the 'warmth' of winter. In the 2 screenshots above, the colour palette reminds the films audience and viewers about that special christmas, family and homely feel. Finally the mix between the Japanese mountain time lapses and steady, static 'b-roll' environment shots within the middle of the film is cool playing along and emphasising the bouncy but smooth tempo and mood of Sylvan Esso's 'Coffee' (the films soundtrack).

Cinematography

As a whole the Shadow Campaign series comes across as having very high production value and that for sure comes across in the high level of cinematography that is being shown. Drones, high image quality cameras and lenses have been used and I can tell the team spent spent some time during pre production to really narrow down the shots they wanted each morning. The majority of lighting in the film comes either from natural light from the sun, both harsh and soft diffused light from clouds, or practical light found in the Japanese bar in the intro and outro to the film. I think this use of lighting really helps to show off the 'soul' of Japanese skiing, which is based around the huge amounts of snow Japan and its resorts receives, the small bars serving sushi bento, amazing Japanese beer and the Japanese "cough syrup" of sake shots and then the extremely fun and friendly Japanese people who love pulling off the signature peace sign in a photo.

Even cinematography basics like composition and camera movements are done to a level that is awe inspiring. Below are some screen grabs from the film with my comments on that bit of the film in relation to the films cinematography.

In the film, the shot that is shown above is one of the many cool camera movements that I am drawn to. In this shot, as the skier makes his way down the face, on the spine, the drone is moving towards this mountain face, the camera is tilting down keeping the skier in frame and ends pretty close to the mountain face. Its just the originality of the shot that draws me to it as I think a lot of directors and cinematographers would take the same scene with the skier heading down the face, as stick top a shot of the drone following from behind the skier.

Take a good look at the screenshot above. Today, almost every production will have drones on their radar of tools to use because of their vantage point they can give a story and production. However the framing and vantage point of this drone shot is just little bit more different as many would have associated the skier to be facing the drone or the drone following from behind him. I think the attraction in this shot is that it uses the width of the 16x9 frame to show the length and possibly the gradient of that particular run without directly showing how long the ski run through the pillow line is.

Music & Sound

For the most part this film features the song 'Coffee' by Sylvan Esso and the intro and outro features Marmoset's 'Night Street'. In my opinion the latter of these song choices best suits the nature and style of this film because I can't match up why a song 'based on the idea of contra dancing as a way of talk about relationships' can relate to Japan or skiing. Maybe the decision to use the song is beyond what I am currently thinking so I am going to leave it there for you to make your own decisions. Regarding the films sound effects, they are strong. I love films or edits where raw clean high quality sounds like ski boots clipping into ski bindings or the glass of whiskey been thrown down the bar with the ice swirling around, mixed in with visuals and music is what todays top action and adventure sports films are made of. Its a paradise for the bodies senses.

“Coffee” is based on the idea of contra dancing as a way of talking about relationships. What happens is, you do a series of movements that are called out at the beginning of the dance — everyone knows 25 movements — and then you string them together. You’ll do the same movements with your partner, then do a dance with another dude, then come back to your partner. Dancing is just really important. So many pop songs are about dancing, which is super strange to me, because it doesn’t feel like something many people do. There’s this stigma for people who don’t dance. There’s something magical about it, and I don’t think anyone knows what it is except that it’s about letting go.
— http://www.wonderingsound.com/feature/sylvan-esso-interview/
M: What role do you feel music has in film?

SJS: Music has a special power to express something you can’t see, but the director wants you to feel. The same way that a choice of lens can add a layer of texture, sound can add a new sense of touch.
— http://journal.marmosetmusic.com/read/2015/6/always-experiment-an-interview-with-marmoset-band-lullatone