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2016 British Bouldering Championships @ Cliffhanger

2016 British Bouldering Championships at Cliffhanger

July 14th; 2016

Shauna Coxsey and Matt Cousins lifted the 2016 senior British Bouldering Championship titles at the Cliffhanger Festival in Sheffield last weekend.

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Shauna Coxsey – MBE, 2016 British Bouldering and World Cup Champion

 

 

 

 

Shauna Coxsey’s form throughout 2016 has been little short of phenomenal. Having already secured the Bouldering World Cup with the final event still to be held, Shauna went into the BBC as odds-on favourite. That she totally dominated the women’s event at the BBC’s came as no surprise to anyone. But for a single problem in the semi-finals Shauna flashed every other problem brushing many aside as though they were just warm-ups.

The men’s event however was a little more finely balanced. Dave Barrans scored a perfect round in the qualifiers flashing all five blocs. It was however, Matt Cousins – runner-up in the qualification round – that came to the fore in the semi-finals and finals to take the top slot with a deserved and consistent performance.

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Matt Cousins – 2016 British Bouldering Champion

The Cliffhanger Festival – in its ninth year – has become a regular feature of the summer scene here in Sheffield. For the first time however, the festival was held in the city centre rather that out in either Millhouses or Graves Parks. Sharing the stage with a running, biking and hiking hub, the city’s outdoor fraternity were well-served and turned out in force despite the changeable weather.

The setting team – Percy Bishton, Andy Long, Jamie Cassidy, Rob Napier and Ben Meeks – came up with the goods setting a whole raft of interesting-looking, spectator-friendly blocs for the competitors.

The women’s results were:

1st Shauna Coxsey; 2nd Tara Hayes; 3rd Leah Crane; 4th Michaele Tracey; 5th Gracie Martin;  6th Jo Neame

The men’s results were:

1st Matt Cousins; 2nd Nathan Phillips; 3rd Orrin Coley; 4th Billy Ridal; 5th James Garden; 6th Dave Barrans

Finally, here’s a selection of shots from the finals…

 

BBC_2016_Finalists checking out the blocsBBC_2016_Finalists checking out the blocsBBC_2016_Leah Crane wrestling with the crux sloper on W1BBC_2016_Jo Neame hunting the sweet spot on the sloper on W1BBC_2016_Tara Hayes staying low on the sloper on W1BBC_2016_What sloper? It's a pinch not a sloper says Shauna Coxsey (MBE)BBC_2016_Billy Ridal getting into the groove on M2BBC_2016_Jo Neame wrestling with W2BBC_2016_Billy Ridal progressing on M2BBC_2016_Tara Hayes nearing the top of W2BBC_2016_Orrin Coley in the midst of the blankness that was M3BBC_2016_Jo Neame on the tufatastic W3BBC_2016_Tara Hayes on W3BBC_2016_Shauna Coxsey crushing W3BBC_2016_Shauna again on W3BBC_2016_Gracie Martin on W4BBC_2016_Michaela Tracy on W4BBC_2016_Orrin Coley sizing up the dyno on M4BBC_2016_James Garden launching one on M4BBC_Dave Barrans on/off M4BBC_2016_Nathan Phillips landing the crux dyno on M4BBC_2016_Matt Cousins letting rip on M4BBC_2016_Matt Cousins latching M4BBC_2016_And another win to Shauna Coxsey after flashing W4BBC_2016_Women PodiumBBC_2016_Mens PodiumBBC_2016_2016 scoreboard... the envy of the world!

Footnote: I wrongly commented in my 2015 Cliffhanger report that last year’s Cliffhanger was the ninth – it was in fact ‘only’ the eighth.

Also posted in Bouldering, Climbing, Photography

­­­­­­­2015 – Captured

Light years past the roll-over into 2016 I’ve finally pulled a selection of images together that I shot during 2015. It’s always an ‘interesting’ exercise to rummage through the hard drives and pull a selection of shots together that collectively sum-up a years of photographic effort. Even the best made photographic plans change – sometimes, it seems, no sooner than they’ve been hatched. And so it was for me in 2015 when a couple of major projects rolled effortlessly over the threshold into 2016. No matter really, that offered opportunities for others to come forward.

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Apart from capturing some winter scenery, my first photo shoot proper in 2015 was F-BO15; otherwise known as the Foundry’s 2015 Bouldering Open competition. Shooting climbing comps is more often than not nails; the action is fast moving, the ambient lighting at best challenging and the use of artificial lighting difficult in crowded locations. Finally, getting a good angle/shooting position is usually nigh on impossible. It’s usual therefore to ‘shoot on the fly’ which is pretty difficult but when it works it’s pretty satisfying. The year before, at F-BO14, I’d caught Stuart Littlefair attempting one of the 2014 problems feet-first. There was none of that in F-BO15 but there was some ‘swinging ball action’ that was pretty interesting to shoot. Shooting super-low, I managed to capture Ethan Walker just coming off the swinging ball. A suitably positioned chalk bag provided some nice foreground interest and hence depth in the shot; result! In F-BO14 Stuart had taken Ben Moon’s place in the final but Ben Moon v.2015 was there in force – in fact he crushed all before him turning in a (well-deserved) winning performance. Ben’s company sponsors one of the walls at The Foundry and I managed to get a shot Ben powering up the hardest bloc with his logo on the wall behind clearly in shot; I thought it was a nice bit of ‘later wow’ though I doubt many other folks even spotted it. C’est la vie…05_2015_Beddgelert_DSC_0074_capture

Following F-BO15, a wet and soggy walk down an in-spate Padley Gorge seemed to signal the end of winter. Spring always seems so fresh and the light so clear after the misty, muggy days of winter; the woods turn blue with blue bells and it was all rather pleasant. Even a cloudy day didn’t spoil a rare solar eclipse – in fact it gave it a haunting look. Spring 2015 went past in a flash to be honest; I find that’s what happens when I get engrossed in a climbing project. Success nearly came in April but I managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of success so the process of turning up and trying hard soaked up time; time that should really have been spent elsewhere. Finally, following a trip to a scenic Wales, the Eastwood Double was done and I could move on.

06_2015_Scotland_06_DSC03468Moving on took the form of starting my limestone campaign for the year plus a couple of trips away; firstly to Scotland and then back to Wales. Scotland first. This was a four-day trip with Paul, a grand master of the ‘quick hit’. The weather was fantastic so for Day#1 it had to be a monster 12-hour outing onto Cairn Dearg Buttress on the North East face of Ben Nevis. Torro, a totally fantastic E2 – maybe even one of the best on a big mountain cliff anywhere in the UK – was our reward. An amazing route up the middle of the crag just left of Centurion; I’ll happily recommend Torro to anyone climbing at that grade and looking for a full-on mountain experience. It’s perhaps worth knowing that sorting a belay at the06_2015_Scotland_44_DSC03726_alt end of Pitch 3 is ‘rather interesting’, that the fourth crux pitch suffers a bit from seepage ad the final pitch is definitely a sting in the tail. Overall it’s a great route; defo a four-star experience. The descent afterwards wasn’t totally straight forward; dropping into the gully which was still full of snow was quite interesting in trainers! The Isle of Skye called next and over the bridge we went; sadly, arriving with the doggie weather. Rain stopped us from getting involved at Kilt Rock but dry rock near Niest Point was duly located along with Bad Dreams (E3 5b, 5c) and that felt more than adequate as a consolation prize. And the views over Niest Point were stunning. Equally excellent was Whispering Crack (E3/4 5a, 5c) at Rubha Hunish – the most northerly point on Skye – which provided the entertainment the following day; a day so cold and windy that a t-shirt, a thermal, a fleece and then an outer wind stopper together with two pairs of trousers seemed scant protection against with the fresh connies yet way too many clothes to be wearing for leading a

Neist Point, Isle of Skye

hard and physical crack pitch. And what a pitch as well; amazing in fact, the best 45m crack pitch I’ve lead for ages. And still the wind blew on Day#4 – so much so in fact that we sacked-off our intended target and instead slunk off to Glen Nevis were we collected a couple of fine E2’s – including Plague of Blazes (E2 5c) – for our troubles before heading south.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in all my years of climbing – 40+ now and counting – Cloggy is one of the cliffs that had passed me by. The forecast suggested a settled period and a plan was duly hatched. We left Sheffield just after 4am. By 7am we were walking into Cloggy up the railway track; a lifelong ambition was unfolding. Occasionally, a photograph of a climber on an iconic route is etched into your mind’s eye. Ken Wilsons’ shot of Ed Drummond on the first pitch of Great Wall was such a photo for me; the cliff all dark and moody and Drummond dressed in seemingly virgin-like white. It didn’t need any discussion; Great Wall was the #1 target. I got the first pitch and Paul lead the second. Both were quite different and thoroughly enjoyable. We could discuss, as hundreds already have, whether Great Wall is a stiff E3 or an easy E4; in a way it doesn’t matter as long as it’s suitably described – either way it’s an absolute crac07_2015_Cloggy_DSC03791_lo resking route, sustained and interesting. Hacking up the vegetation above to top out was a bit of a downer mind you, but it’s not too long a scramble and it’s alright really. The Axe (E4 6a) seemed like a sensible follow-up pitch. Paul’s lead was suitable steady although I think I may have heard a few squeals of anxiety now and then. Seconding, I was grateful that had any of the thin and seemingly hollow flakes actually parted company then I’d be swinging out in space rather than taking a ride downwards onto a doggy cam sat behind some doggy flake. Another great route – especially to second!

July came round pr07_2015_BBC 2015_015_DSC_1129etty fast and with it the BBCs – British Bouldering Championships – at Cliffhanger, Sheffield. It was a pretty fancy set-up at Cliffhanger again and, not surprisingly, the respective titles were keenly contested. Photographically, the white tarp which covered the temporary wall acted like a giant diffusor so – for once – there was plenty of light which at least solved that problem. Access was, sadly, the usual nightmare however; swinging around on scaffolding and scrambling up the back of the wall avoiding the business end of literally hundreds of screws! It’s always pot-luck whether to shoot from the floor or hanging off the top of the wall and I usually mix it up a bit to get some variety. As it was I got lucky on one of the blocs as I was shooting straight down as Shauna was eye-balling a finishing hold. Part way through the finals I dropped down to the mats and shot a bunch of problems at floor level which gave a totally different perspective, not least as I switched to a long lens and used a wide aperture. It was a great afternoon and Shauna Coxsey and Tyler Landman were the worthy winners.

07_2015_Everglades_DSC_1550_lo resIn late July we set-off to go to the USA. The plan was pretty simple; fly into Orlando, pick up a car and then nip down to the Everglades to check-out some of the local wildlife, back up to Florida for a day at Universal Studios, pull an evening visit to Cape Canaveral to watch a launch, cruse up to Charleston, then hop on an internal flight to Boston and then finally back down to The Big Apple. A simple plan I’m sure you’ll agree; what could go wrong?! Actually, it did roll out pretty much as per the blue-print; save the launch at Cape Canaveral which was binned-off at the last minute due to doggy weather at launch site. It’s tricky pulling out favs or best memories – we seem to get so many in the trip. The ‘gators in the Everglades were well-worth seeing and pretty much as billed; what was a bonus though was the sunrises/sunsets over the waterfronts. The Ringling Museum and Ca’D’Zan in Sarasota Bay was something of an oasis and defo worth a look. Being Stateside, a trip to a baseball match was clearly in order; in the end we caught two although watching the Red Soxs play in Fenway Park was very much the real deal as well as a 08_2015_New York_42_DSC_3287_alt2great opportunity to capture some totally different action. Ditto, some of the sights in Boston; I’m thinking mainly of the Holocaust Memorial and the War Memorial to the US fallen soldiers were especially haunting and reminders of a past. An afternoon walking round the Harvard University complex restored a little balance. New York was crammed with things to visit. Staying longer and doing more would perhaps have been overdoing it and we lift happy with what we’d seen; Grand Central, Times Square, Central park, Rockafella Centre, Empire State Building, Ground Zero, State of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and last but definitely not least, Manhattan skyline at night.

09_2015_Nettle_DSC_3850_lo resPeak limestone is bread and butter for me photographically and climbing wise. The climbing connies during September and October were pretty flipping good – right up there in fact with the best it’s been for quite a few years – and when it’s that good Chee Dale is the place to be; especially The Cornice. My long-term climbing project there grabbed my attention so photography suffered a kick-back to be honest – it’s super hard to focus (no pun intented) to do both. I did manage to get some shots thought – not only at The Cornice, but also at the altogether more demure Nettle Buttress. It’s great to shoot at these places mid-week when it’s quiet – but you have to take your opportunities when they present themselves. Oh, nearly forgot, some nice fungi down there too in the autumn.

Looking back now the back end of 2015  wasn’t especially productive on the photographic front. However, a weekend visit to Buttermere in the Lake District proved rewarding on several fronts –10_2015_Buttermere_07_DSC_4696 defo photographically. For starters, let’s say that the weather was changeable; both days started with rain and both days finished with glorious sunsets – the autumnal colours were, as expected, pretty intense. Buttermere is one of the more photographed locations in the Lakes and its pretty obvious when you go you’ll see why – a great photo op around every corner; loved it! Rather more ‘off-subject’ for me was a trip to MIMA – Middlesborough Institute of Modern Arts to be exact. It was a flying visit but an interesting one nevertheless. Recommended if you’re in the area.

With 2015 coming rapidly to an end some disparate climbing subjects wrapped up the year for me. I’d got a couple of the Crusher Hold new Slaves to test and review and needed a couple of product shots to accompany said review. A straight product shot plus a product in use provided a rare opportunity to get a little bit creative with some close-ups. Finally, shooting some promo shots for The Foundry for marketing and then the Mammut University Lead Challenge finished the year almost where it had begun! I’ll blame the lousy weather in the autumn for my totally lack of outdoor shots but, in truth, I think it was a poor show on my part for not making the best of what was available.

For the full gallery of shots from 2015 Captured click through here

Also posted in Adventure, Climbing, General, Photography, Travel

Dec 2nd, 2015: Mammut University Onsight Lead Comp at The Foundry

The winter climbing comps are very much in full swing now – today saw The Foundry playing host to the Mammut University Onsight Lead Final.

Will Smith milking a kneebar before committing to the crucial tufa above

The Foundry’s chief setter, Rob Napier, had conjured up a couple of tasty looking routes up the main wall for the competitors to get to grips with. I couldn’t help drop in for an hour or so and grab some snaps. The men’s final route was on the right-hand side of the prow and off the top of the Bleaustone Wall I had a grandstand view. Connor Bynre and Luke Dawson had both topped out in the opening round so it was totally down to the final to split these two. Will Smith however had his own game plan and very nearly sneaked in and upset the proverbial apple cart. As it was, Connor Byrne flew-off the crucial mid-height tufa allowing Will Smith to take second place and Luke Dawson the top slot although with only 2moves separating all three climbers it was a pretty close final.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay to watch the majority of women’s half of the comp although I was there to see Team GB Member Jennifer Wood hike the women’s final.

Here’s a selection of the action…

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Also posted in Climbing, Photography

July 13th 2015 British Bouldering Championships at Cliffhanger

The best bouldering comp climbers in the country went head-to-head over the weekend in Millhouse’s Park Sheffield in the British Bouldering Championship and the action was pretty captivating. After three intense rounds, Shauna Coxsey and Tyler Landman collected the male and female titles respectively.

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Shauna Coxsey – cruising to another victory

Amazingly, it was the ninth season for the Cliffhanger Outdoor Festival and as usual Matt Heason and his team had done an amazing job of arranging the event as well as the weather which– Sunday morning excepted – was on its best behaviour for once! I’ve always been lucky enough to get along to Cliffhanger and photo the climbing competition. It’s a frantic, full-on, run-and-gun affair and this year was no exception – although for the first time the climbing wall was housed under a bespoke scaffold-based construction clad with white tarps. Previously the wall had been within a dark and dingy ‘big-top tent’ and photographing the action was always a massive technical challenge in which the photographer wielding the biggest and most mobile lighting units usually came away with the best results. This year was fantastic by comparison – the massive white tarps acting a giant diffuser casting nice soft light on the bouldering wall. As usual the setting team dished-up a veritable mix of the delicate and powerful. Competition climbers are so strong these days that it’s not enough to go small and steep – hence there was some dirty vert and blob-city action amongst the blocs as well as some dynos and down-and-out techie stuff in the corners. Most noticeable about the competitors was the number of young guns within their midst – many emerging from the junior classes and looking – if not baying – for success. It’ll only be a matter of time before they come away with the metalwork!

The final results were as follows:

Men 1 Tyler Landman 2 Dave Barrans 3 James Garden 4 Orrin Coley 5 Nathan Phillips 6 Billy Ridal

Women 1 Shauna Coxsey 2 Fanny Gilbert 3 Leah Crane 4 Diane Merrick 5 Jennifer Wood 6 Molly Thompson-Smith

Finally, here’s a gallery of images from the finals. Hope you enjoy…

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Also posted in Bouldering, Photography

May 27th; Three Queens hit Merseyside…

Thousands lined the banks of the Mersey on Bank Holiday Monday to see the three Cunard Queens steam down the river – a rather grand celebration to mark the company’s 175 year presence in the area.

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Queen Mary 2 had sailed in May 24th and docked on the famous waterfront. Fortuitously, the sun made a brief appearance in the afternoon as well. From the Seacombe Ferry terminal the QM2 looked pretty darned impressive in front of Liverpool’s Albert Docks.

Monday’s grand parade, when the QM2 met her sibling ships – Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, was sadly lacking a blue sky but the monster crowd didn’t seem too stressed by that. The three Queens met off Perch Rock and then streamed down the Mersey together before spinning round in front of the Cunard building and then heading back up the river. The Red Arrows even dipped down out of the murk at one point on a flypast on their way to another engagement.

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I always try and nip along to events like this if I’m in the area and I’m glad I did. It was rather frustrating photographically – dull and overcast for the main event on Monday but eventually a smidgen of sun did appear – just as I was leaving – doh!

Here’s a few shots of the Queens visit…

Queen Mary 2 moored at the Albert Docks on Sunday 24th, 2015Queen Mary 2 moored at the Albert Docks on Sunday 24th, 2015Three Queens meet up off Perch Rock on the MerseyThe Three Queens streaming up the MerseyLiverpool's Albert Dock sea front and the QM2Liverpool's Albert Dock sea front Liverpool's Albert Dock sea front and the QM2

 

Also posted in Photography

2014 Captured

Ridiculously belatedly, I know – glaciers have moved faster – I’ve finally pulled together a gallery of images from 2014! Post processing your images take forever – or so it seems – but notwithstanding it’s always worth reviewing your work. Not least, it’s worth asking what works and why and what doesn’t work and why and pulling together a gallery of images is one way of doing just that.

1402_DSC_5417In my round-up for 2013 I said that I’d shot some 7,500 images totalling 263 GB of space and that had trumped my efforts in previous years. Well, 2014 blew those figs clean out of the water; c.13,500 images shot consuming c.454 GB of disk – nearly twice my previous max! Quantity isn’t, nor has it, nor will it ever be a measure of artistic value or quality but – to coin a phase – the more I practice the better my images get – arguably! As an aside it also shows that myself and most other photogs have data handling issues equivalent to companies many times the size of our businesses. Quite literally, digi photogs are awash in data.

Photographically, 2014 was an extremely interesting and different year to those that went before it. I continued to shoot climbing images – as I figure I always well. The bulk of these however were in the Peak District – only a single overseas trip to Riglos being the sole exception. Cycling shots were up for sure – hardly surprising given that La Grand Depart happened on the doorstep. A week-long summer trip facilitated some UK surfing shots but the big newbie in my portfolio was trail running. Vertebrate Publishing were in the final stages of a trail running guidebook for the Peak District and our paths collided. By the time the guide went to print in the autumn I’d shot images on trails all over the White and Dark Peak. As you’ll see, trail running is well represented in the gallery accompanying this post – though more of that anon.

2014 kicked off with some spectacular dawn light on Merseyside. The New Brighton Lighthouse, formally known as Perch Rock Lighthouse, is a favourite1412_DSC01725 of mine and a few thousand other photogs as well! Originally constructed in 1827, the current lighthouse ceased operation in 1973.Since then it has been maintained by the Kingham family. Reports of Northern Light activity flooded the media in the second week of January – so much so that I donned suitable attire and jointed the throngs of night revellers at Stanage for whatever meagre glimpse we might get of said NL spectacular. In the end, most folks bailed an hour or so past mid-night with so much as seeing anything other than car headlights and a light-polluted (admittedly) clear night!

The main event in February was F-BO14 – an open bouldering comp at The Foundry. It produced some surprises along the way. Against some stiff opposition a certain Mr Ben Moon qualified for the final which was absolutely great to see that he could still hold his own in the rarefied air of top-flight bouldering comps. By March the weather was heading rapidly into spring and limestone action at Stoney was underway as well as some grit. It was great getting out again especially as I was in the midst of a climbing shoe review for CLMBER magazine.

1436_DSC_9294A four-day trip to Riglos in late March/early April felt like the real start to the season. And what an amazing route Fiesta de los Biceps is – absolutely knock-out; c.300 m of stunning climbing up unbelievable steep rock. What not to like? Back home after that, the flora was springing (sorry…) into life everywhere. April and May went rushing past in a blur with trips to Wallasey included the unexpected bonus of ‘finding’ The Breck as well as the more usual haunts in Chee Dale and Stanage providing photo opportunities. Farther north, a trip to Northumberland – with excellent weather as usual – was a real bonus. We based ourselves near to Dunstanburgh Castle which is just spectacular as are the nearby rock/boulder strewn coast line.

July, of course, was all about La Tour, what a great event that was – again bags of photo ops. It’s a cliché of course, but I couldn’t resist a snap of the yellow jersey as ‘it’ came past. And following that was the Sheffield Criterium – a city centre race where the pro teams and the best amateurs hack round a loop flat-out for an hour in a first-past-the-post race wins. A brilliant race and another great night out with the camera.

 

 

August and the school summer hols provided the opportunity for me to dip my toes photographically at least into a totally new genre – concerts; specifically Camp Bestival at Lulworth. It did occur to me that I might sneak off for a cheeky DWS or two but the festival was full-on that half-baked idea withered on the vine. What a great opportunity to add some new material to my portfo1467_DSC_4788lio as well as catching some great performances too. The week after we washed-up on the Devon coast at Bude intent on sampling the surf and some Devonian bloc action – both were rather good as it turned out. A trip down to Colchester later in the summer hols offered another opportunity to catch the Red Arrows and an iconic Spitfire. August bank holiday saw us back up north in the Whitby area. As well as a trip round Go Ape in the Dalby Forest we nabbed a few waterfalls and night scenes on the coast. I also managed to fulfil a long-term objective – photographing a field full of fresh cut/baled hay which doesn’t sound much but it seems to have taken me a while to get the tick.

 

1471_DSC_0778Starting in September I dropped into running mode; shooting trail running to be exact for a guide on trailing running in the Peak District. I’d shot runners before – but always as part of events and never as stand-alone image to illustrate a book. The brief was to shoot the runners at various stages around the routes and to shoot couples running wherever possible. With twenty odd routes to shoot in about as many days, it was an interesting challenge. Shooting a single runner as its own challenges but adding in another runner into the equation takes it to another level. Imagine shooting fast moving action and trying to get a good body shape as well as a good composition showing the routes is OK, but getting two runners to run together and look half decent is… well try it and you see what I mean! Fortunately the weather was stunning last autumn and I got the job done to deadline – just! Plus I got to go to some places I’d never been to before in the Peak which was brilliant. I also got to see and photo some great wildlife too.

And when I wasn’t shooting running, I was out climbing and snapping climbing action too – that seemed a doddle in comparison to shooting two runners. Autumn seemed to pass very quickly – the colours were beautiful but seemingly gone in no time and then it was winter, Xmas and then the New Year and then time to start over!

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To see the full gallery of 2014 Captured click thru here

 

 

 

 

Also posted in Aviation, Bouldering, Climbing, Cycling, Photography, Running

F-BO15: And the winners are…

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Also posted in Bouldering

July 26th: Farewell to Deano (a.k.a. the 2014 Sheffield Grand Prix)

Wednesday (23rd July) night in Sheffield was FarewellDeano Night as anyone in the city centre around 9pm will know. Wrapped up amongst the farewell celebrations was the official event of the evening – the 2014 Sheffield Grand Prix which featured a Cat 3-4 race as well as the men’s Elite Race. Dean Dowling had won the 2013 event but the big question was could he do the same again in what was to be his final pro race?

The hors d’oeuvres for the main course was a mixed Cat 3-4 race which turned out to be, not unsurprisingly, hotly contested thanks to the fire power of some special order young guns in the shape of Thomas (Tom) Pidcock from Chevin Cycles.com and Harry Hardcastle of Kirklees Cycling Academy. Racing with the Cat 3-4 guns, the young ‘uns were allowed in as a ‘special’ – and what a special it turned out to be as it was down solely to Dieter Droger (Pioneer Scott Syncros) to hold the lads off the top spot. Nevertheless it was an inspired race for the youngers and as Dieter Droger said during the podium interview, it clearly shows that British Cycling has some real talent coming through. Here’s a gallery of images of the Cat 3/4 race.

The 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race starts out on its warm-up lapAnd they're off in the 2014 SCP Cat 3-4 raceSome big gaps in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race open up quicklyEarly leaders in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race sticking tight togetherRiders in the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race working hardHarry Hardcastle punching out the watts in the 2104 SGP Cat 3-4 raceDieter Droger fixing the young guns Tom Pidock and Harry Hardcastle firmly in his sightsAnd the winner of the 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 race is Dieter DrogerThe 2014 SGP Cat 3-4 podium with Dieter Droger (Pioneer Scott Syncros), Tom Pidcock (Chevin Cycles.com Trek) and Harry Hardcastle (Kirkless Cyclig Academy)

The Elite race itself was also  hotly contested although there was an enforced ‘black flag’ break to allow the newly crowded Junior RR Champion, Tristran Robbins, to pick himself and his (de-chained) bike up off the cobbles. Once the race restarted a lead group got away leaving Team Raleigh working hard to bring them back although sadly they were unable to podium. In the end, Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) led home in the gathering gloom with local rider Adam Blythe (NFTO) and Toby Horton (Madison Genesis) following.

The night was clearly for Dean and he took to the podium with his daughter for an interview to the crowd’s delight…‘Farewell Deano’…

Finally then, a gallery of images from the mens’ Elite Race

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Also posted in Cycling, Photography

July 17th: It’s all over in a Second or Two – Roadside Shooting at the Tour du France

As most of Yorkshire knows only too well, it’s all over in a second of two! Or at least that’s how it seems if you stand by the roadside for several hours to wait for the greatest bike race in the world that is Le Tour (a.k.a. The Tour du France) to go past. Out of all the places that we could have watched Le Tour, Jawbone Hill in Oughtibridge was where we washed-up. As one of the top-ten places listed on the Sky website – we figured it would be good. For starters, it was on a hill so the riders would be going slow – right? Access wise – Jawbone Hill camping was right there too, with its built-in ringside (ok… roadside…) viewing. Double bonus. All we have to do was rock-up late Saturday, pitch the tent and wait up for the great show on earth to roll past. Piece of cake – what could be better or easier for that matter?

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There’s no shortage of erudite cycling commentators far more qualified than me to talk about the actual race itself – so this post is more about shooting Le Tour from a roadside shooters perspective. Thanks to Google Earth I had already driven up and down Jawbone Hill several times in the comfort of my own house to get an idea of where might be best to photograph from. I’d worked out where the sun (assuming it wasn’t cloudy) was gonna be in the sky (sic) and roughly which sections would be back-lit and where would be in shadow. Sadly though, there were still many known unknowns. How many others were going to be roadside too? Would the crowd all surge forward and block the view? Would the weather play ball or would we be treated to a day of interminable grey or worst still, rain? Would there be any restrictions to moving about as spectators? More questions than answers so it seemed like it was all going to be a bit of pot-luck. Walking up Jawbone Hill it was obvious that it had a number of steeper ramps and a steep(ish) finishing straight. By 10am on race day Sunday 6th, some 6 hours before the action, the frontline viewing spots behind the roadside barrier on the finishing straights were already taken! Folks sure seemed keen but I guess 6 hours for a ringside view of Le Tour might not be an unreasonable return?

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In the end I settled for a position on about half way up Jawbone, on the beginning of the outside of a bend which came after a decent straight. Waiting for the riders gave an opportunity to try out some angles and do some crowd watching. I was pretty chuffed with one shot especially which for me summed up waiting for the TDF when a young gent got down with the vibe and worked on his TDF Road Art. I would have been rude not to snap some of the more memorable aspects of the TDF ‘caravan’ has it rolled past and it was an opportunity to practice focus tracking and panning.  By the time the helicopters arrived and signalled the immenent arrival of the riders themselves I’d distilled my game plan and was sorted. Rightly or wrongly I’d decided to shoot the first group of riders as they approached my position with a 70-200mm then switch to a 24-70mm mid-range for the close up stuff as more riders came past. I added an on-camera flash, with a booster pack for faster recycling, to fill the shadows. I opted for a wide aperture for the telli shots – primarily to separate the action from the background but stopped down a bit for the mid-range shots to give more depth of focus.

Anyways, here’s my shots as the caravan and Le Tour tackles Jawbone Hill. I think my game plan worked ok although it nearly fell on its derier as I’d not factored into the equation that ahead of the first riders is the official red race car – complete with outriders – which nearly obliterated the long shot down the road look that I was after. Totally by luck than judgement as the opening group came towards me I was able to snatch a few shots of the riders once the lead vehicles had pulled past. It hard picking a ‘best shot’ but this one sums up what I’d envisaged.

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Apologies for the delay in posting – technology failure caused by the BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) took a wee while to get sorted – but here at last is a full gallery of the day…

Cote du Jawbone - race minus several hoursCycling RoyaltyBy heck lad, here comes t'caravan...She was still playing when she hit Sheffield too - apparently!Fruit never tasted so good?Part of your 5-adayAye - big hills and great teaNow thats a big teddyLovin' it...French strong armTDF road artEgh up - here comes TDF!French chips...Bear in the airYep - after 6 hours waiting, finally here comes to TDF!Le Tour is here!The openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawboneThe openning group charging Cote du JawbonePorte and Froomy goes by...Way to go guys...Toni MartinClose-up and personal #1Close-up and personal #2Close-up and personal #3Eh up - is that a yellow jersey I see?Eh up - is that a yellow jersey I see?Yep - le yellow jerseyYellow jerseyPates brings up the rear (sort...off...)...

 

 

 

Also posted in Cycling, Photography Tagged , |

Feb 12th: F-BO14 – not just another boudering comp…

Saturday the 8th February saw a fair few of the UK’s bouldering elite gather at the Foundry in Sheffield for the F-BO14 bouldering competition. Since it first opened its doors, the Foundry has long been the scene for climbing comps – those of us who have been regular visitors over the years will remember the then sixteen year old Chris Sharma appearing in a Foundry bouldering comp back in the 90’s! F-BO14, is the latest in that series, and what a cracking event it turned out to be too…

The morning qualification round saw the elite, the good and the would-be’s all rubbing shoulders on no less than 25 problems – all carefully devised and crafted by the setting team which comprised the regular Foundry setter, Rob Napier, Percy Bishton (on sabbatical from The Works) and guest setter and strong-man/ex-British bouldering champ, Ned Freehally; nothing if not a strong, stout and sly setting trio! Collectively, they served up a veritable cordon beau menu of problems. One problem had just three holds arranged in a horizontally manner rather than upwards! Challenging the paradigm indeed!

Emerging from the quallies as the lady finalists were Shauna Coxsey, Michaela Tracy, Diane Merrick, Katie Maxwell, Gracie Martin and Ella Russel. The six-man testosterone-laden crew comprised Thom Arnold, Nathan Phillips, Cailen Harker, Martin Smith and Ben Moon. Yep, that’s THE Ben Moon who is back on the scene and pulling down with remarkable determination once more. The stand-out performance from qualification was supplied by Shauna who flashed every single problem to return a perfect score-card!

The finals were run using the familiar bouldering comp format – two climbers (one male, one female) both climbing at once on two problems over a four minute slot before back to isolation. Both legs were pretty closely contested. Shauna Coxsey emerged in top place – though she was pushed hard by Michaele and Diane. Shauna dropped the very last problem of the day on her first attempt (her only mistake of the day). Michael came second with Diane in third. Sadly Ben Moon sat the final round out but Stu Littlefair stepped into Ben’s place and provided some great entertainment climbing bloc #4 by starting upside down! Unconventional, but seemingly effective and a definite crowd-pleaser. Martin Smith came in first with Ethan Walker in second and wild-card Stu picking up third.

A cracking day all round – here some snaps…

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Also posted in Bouldering