the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

May 2, 2010

Silhouettes and shooting Ibis.

Filed under: bike, photography, snow — danmilner @ 10:43 pm

Perched on a rock, feet dangling into the void below, trying to keep your balance while framing a shot through the confusingly warped perspective of a 14mmm lens… hmm, it’s interesting the spots this job puts you in sometimes. Sounds exciting, and it is, but sometimes, believe it or not, you’d rather be somewhere else, feet set firmly and safely on the ground. But time and time again, aside from those moments when you have to cap your adrenaline and try to think straight while keeping a lid on the fear factor, my job seems to get me into spots that I’d not otherwise find myself, and for that I’m pretty chuffed.

Finale Ligure, Italy. Canon EOS 5 & Nikon 14-24 2.8G/wth adaptor. I wanted to capture the Ibis brand name in one of those “wannabethere” moments.. subtle but strong. I played with fixing a magic arm boom to the bike and remote firing the camera with Pocketwizard slaves, but in the end it worked best to just pan really close to the top tube when the rider came by.

Usually this is a combination of time and place that I serve to get the shot I think will steal the hearts of the marketing guy who sent me the brief (and so get me repeat work, hey, no one said I’m not mercenary), and usually this means being poised above some epic descent while a panorama of mountains slips silently behind a veil of golden light and lengthening shadows. It’s one of the bonuses of my chosen employment. A couple of years ago one of my riders admitted that he really didn’t mind how shooting pictures interrupted a good ride; it provided an excuse to experience something different –from watching a sunset from the side of a mountain, to riding trails in adventurous, remote locations. Without the excuse of shooting photos we’d be missing out on a whole ‘out there’ catalogue of experiences. He had a point. After all you’d not normally start up a mountain at 4pm, risking having to face a 3000 ft descent down testy trails in the dark, or choose to crunch your way down a backcountry bowl long after the snow has refrozen into bullet-proof crust, not at least unless you have a photographer egging you on to accompany him that is.

So when I had the excuse to head to Finale Ligure on the Italian coast to shoot images for Ibis bikes this month, I made sure our photo session started late and ran late. Only then did we have the reason to find ourselves riding dusty trails above an azure blue Mediterranean sea, while bathed in that golden light that says “you’ll be home in the dark again”.  Heck, yeah the images are great, but at times like this keeping a client baying for more is only half the story. 

Chamonix. Leica M8 & Zeiss 28/2.8. To reach this trail takes some 45 minutes of climbing and another 45 of hiking. We forgot however that in October, when it gets dark, it gets dark quickly. The light and feeling was so good that we shot so late we ended up having to walk half the 1000m descent in a very dark forest with only our mobile phones to use as torches. Worth it? Hell yeah.

So in celebration of glorious light and epic evenings out here’s a peep and a wee backstory to a couple of other golden shots that entailed a mission to make work…

Chamonix. Canon EOS 1DMK2N & 70-200/2.8. Being up on a mountain late in snow means a different perspective: you know that in an hour it is going to be very, very cold for starters. The lines in the snow are following fresh snowfall on top of a snowpack that has been rained on. Dusk means refreezing of sun affected snow meaning an icy, crust-crunching 800 m descent ahead.


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