Category Archives: Cycling

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, Events, Photography, Running

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 Events, 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...)...

 

 

 

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July 3rd… The Big Tamale…

After what seems like forever, tomorrow is the big tamale a.k.a. Le Grand Depart or in simple words, the start of The 2014 Tour de France, arguably the greatest bike race on the planet…

It been a long time coming, but it’s here at last, Yorkshire’s big moment on the big stage that is the TDF. For months yellow bikes have been hung on/off most conceivable vantage points the length and breadth of Yorkshire. Farmers have painted their sheep yellow.  One café owner has covered the outside of their emporium in monster red dots! The roads have been re-surfaced and hitherto common grazing fields turned into one-off campsites. Sheffield’s ‘un-known’ Jenkin Road has been dragged from quiet suburbia and trust into the lime-light and is (very nearly) rubbing shoulders with Alpe d’Huez, or Mont Ventoux!

It’s fair to say that many will be out there over the weekend getting involved but fair play to you if you’re staying at home watching the footie or Wimbledon.  I’m off to Jawbone Hill. Wherever you go, let’s hope it a good ‘un…

Not every bike will be on the Yorkshire roads this weekend...Yorkshire - the roof of the TDF?Opps - boot anyone?

Also posted in General

July 26th: Sheffield Grand Prix – mighty fine racing…

 

Sheffield City Centre was buzzing on Wednesday night as the British Cycling Circuit Series finished in a spectacular climax.  Helen Wyman was the winner in the women’s race whilst Dean Downing took the victory in the men’s race and George Atkins the overall series win…

As a newbie spectator to the criterium the whole thing appeared as a fascinating – if not frantic –  race. Eighty odd riders started the men’s race and it was hotly contested right from the get go.  Hammering round the tight 1.4km course anticlockwise at up to 50kms an hour, the riders navigated the rough and tumble of intermediate sprints, the granite cobbles of Surrey  Street  as well as the sudden death if they’re lapped. It all made for a brilliant evening of fast and furious cycling and the large crowd couldn’t get enough of it.

 

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Also posted in Events