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

December 26, 2013

Latest GoPro episode.. with a smile

Filed under: bike, The Mangina chronicles, video — Tags: , , , , — danmilner @ 3:27 pm

Sometimes it’s too easy to get wrapped up in the business side of the sports that provide my livelihood. It’s too easy to be glib too, and pretend that it’s just a barrel of laughs. My work takes me to places that are scary, environments that are unfriendly, and under deadlines and budget pressures that can sometimes take the edge off what is a ‘dream job’. So in case you’re wondering where I stand, here’s my latest GoPro episode -from one of my favourite bike destinations-  from the monthly series I produce for Sometimes a smile is what it’s all about. Oh and a damn big royalty cheque from the boss.

Trail Ninja Kirroughtree


May 16, 2013

The Birthplace of Mountain Biking gets some Milner movie madness

Filed under: bike, outdoors, photography, The Mangina chronicles — Tags: , , , , — danmilner @ 9:15 am

A few years ago someone asked me if I thought the (then) new D-SLRs with their HD filming ability would change the role of photographer. Would us stills-monkeys suddenly become overnight Spielbergs and of course be shooting both stills and movies while we’re out on location? It was an understandable question. After all you just have to push some buttons right? It’s a question that has popped back up time and time again, not least from clients wanting me to shoot and film expeditions simultaneously.

My answer remains the same. No. Of course it’s pretty much impossible to shoot stills and film at the same time. Each has its own set of skills and techniques and each focusses on different decisive moments. For filming it’s about 30 Frames Per Second (FPS) and needing a little motion blur to help the frames blend into each other, and tripods or steadycams. For action photography, it’s still about hand-held, high (1/1000) shutter speeds and focussing for maximum sharpness. You can’t do both at the same time. Simple.

Now sponsored by GoPro though, my job has evolved, a little, and now its rare for a trip not to be accompanied by the need to record it in moving image format, as is expected by the Youtube obsessed populace and employers alike. And so on the recent trip to the US while shooting mag features on Joe Breeze, Mark Weir and E*Thirteen with my Leica M9, I produced a few more episodes for my EpicTV Trail Ninja series with the GoPro HD3.

So here’s my fun trail guide to mountain biking in the the birthplace of the MTB  -Marin County, California.

Check here to see more.

March 9, 2013

Milner announces collaboration with GoPro

Filed under: photography, The Mangina chronicles — Tags: , , , , — danmilner @ 7:01 pm

It may or may not be a reflection on my photography, but it turns out that my talents have been recognised as worthy by a video camera company before either Leica or Nikon could hook me up. Maybe the latter two haven’t been following my blog enough. Whatever. I’m happy to announce a relationship between the photochimp that is me and GoPro.

An inside leg view of Finale's epic trails

An inside leg view of Finale’s epic trails just before it got dark and the goblins came out

Now don’t get all flustered and start worrying that I’m about to lay down my Leica M9 or D3S (I just got back from 10 days shooting for Transworld Snowboarding mag in the Dolomites, Italy… more about that later). But so as to dance to the tune of increasing demands for video content from the many expedition-like forays into far-flung lands atop bike or splitboard, you now get to see more of my face *squinting/wretching/wincing (*delete as appropriate to expedition’s destination, diet and temperatures) and not just lovely pictures of other people doing radical things.

If you’ve kept an eye on this column, you’ll know that little video insights into some of the ruddy hard trips I’ve been shooting of late have been creeping onto my radar –India, Morocco, Arctic Svalbard, Dolomites– all have been given the moving image treatment, with resulting edits appearing on websites of clients such as The North Face and Osprey packs.

And now with the formal backing of GoPro sitting hand in hand with my new MTB Trail Ninja series for EpicTV, you can expect to see more of this kind of nonsense, perhaps a little more directed, a little better edited and, well just better. And expect you should. I have some insane locations for original trips happening this year…. watch this space. You can bet that none of them will be easy. I’ll be pushing the GoPro 3’s capabilities too as a still camera.

Next stop: learning to ride pump tracks with Mark Weir in California. That’s going to hurt. And you’ll see it all at 60 Frames-per-second, full 1080 HD.

December 23, 2012

Morocco Rematch and the launch of Ready Steady Ride

Filed under: bike, The Mangina chronicles — Tags: , , , , — danmilner @ 3:51 pm
The Hobbits enjoy the new-found fun to be had on bicycles. Leica M9, Zeiss 18/4.

The Hobbits enjoy the new-found fun to be had on bicycles. Leica M9, Zeiss 18/4.

Six years ago I hit Morocco with a couple of bike friends. We rode a week through the Atlas Mountains with only our backpacks and a map to get us through. It was what adventure is made of – memories, good times, hardships, food poisoning and tough riding at 3000m+

I liked the country so much I went back there in 2009 to shoot a snowboard story.

Simply, Morocco is one of the most accessible adventure locations you can find. It offers a true taste of the “exotic” -cuisine, customs, culture that are different to anything offered by the “West”, without the risks often associated with travel in some middle eastern countries or the jetlag of long-haul travel.

It is a country that also offers a lot of good trail riding, something that due to the A-to-B agenda of our initial bike trip, meant we missed out on. I knew then that I’d have to go back to shoot more mountain biking, oh and ride some damn good singletrack.

This November I did that, packing my Leica M9 for portability and unobtrusiveness. Like most of my trips, I needed to find a story pitch that would anchor a fee-paying home for my shoot. That was the easy part: the idea was already in place: to show how easily Morocco can deliver true adventure without the awkwardness of getting shot at/robbed/eaten by bears that you find elsewhere, even the USA.

The story is lined up with MBUK magazine amongst others in the springtime, but until then you can get a taste of the adventure from this new TV series launched in Morocco.

Ready Steady Ride Morocco 640 from danmilner on Vimeo.

November 24, 2012

The Mangina Chronicles: Riding India with Tracy Moseley

Well, as you’ll see from the last POM, India was on the agenda in October. For me this was a totally different experience from the normal DIY masochism that now seems to be the norm for my photographic excursions. This time I joined mountainbikekerala for their guided 12 day odyssey into the Indian Himalayas, something I was worried might be a tad tame. No need to worry there. In fact my biggest concern on the first day was how the hell I keep up with world champ Trek/Endura pro Tracy Moseley, James Richards and Phil and Lucy who run bikeverbier, out on a busman’s holiday.

The trip, although guided, included enough gnar’ to make you feel you earned every foot of descent (of which there was a lot), riding what seemed (although cliched) endless singletrack through steep, forested foothills into the high mountains up to 3800m at Zero Point. Technical, flowy, paved, steep, hike-a-bikes… the trail delivered everything, including monkeys swinging above our heads. Go there. Ride it.

And so while I was there to shoot on my trusty Leica M9, rather than film (we had an ace Indian rider/filmer/pinch-flat master, Vinay, with us for that purpose) I managed to squeeze in a a day of Go Pro’ing to make this little (tongue in cheek) glimpse at the upper end of the trail.  The story will appear in print in MBUK and Bike Germany in the spring. But until then.. enjoy this little taste of India.

Riding the Pindari Glacier Trail, India from danmilner on Vimeo.

July 25, 2012

Heinous for 15 minutes (and another 23 hours, 45 minutes)

Filed under: bike, The Mangina chronicles — Tags: , , , , , — danmilner @ 8:00 am

Followers of this invaluable interjection of wit and satire will recall me shooting a 2 day MTB epic, with 24 hours of riding, in the Dolomites last autumn for an MBUK magazine feature. Well aside from the story shoot, I also multi-tasked and recorded this whole heinous affair for prosperity on my trusted GoPro HD2 for The North Face, the people that had initially sent me to that steep and mountain bike challenging area a couple of months previously to shoot their Lavaredo Ultra Trail running event. This time of course, I was accompanied by TNF endurance mountain bikers Rob Dean and Josh Ibbett, who, as no strangers to pain, at first seemed oddly at ease with the whole challenge, but did, I suspect, share in my jubilation at finally reaching our overnight alpine hut at 11.15pm (at least we would have if we’d had the collective energy remaining to do so.)

Anyway, this is all by-the-by now. The dust has settled, the pain receded, but my short film from our “adventure” is now pride and place on the TNF expedition journal website where you can find the film, images and a link to Rob’s blog of further mountain biking insanity.

the film is also below…

Riding the TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail: welcome to Hell. from danmilner on Vimeo.

May 6, 2012

The Mangina Chronicles: The Further storm

Filed under: The Mangina chronicles — Tags: , , , , — danmilner @ 7:53 pm

Like the ten-day blizzard that hit camp in Alaska as featured in the award-winning Deeper movie, again a storm pins down Jeremy Jones’ adventure team in basecamp, this time in Austria.  And again I get to hold forth in another epic monologue. Things are looking bleak, but luckily, as you’ll see from this film clip, we have remained unaffected and unchanged by the fame that has been bestowed upon the film team by the award wins and unfathomable success of Deeper.

April 7, 2012

The Svalbard Chronicles Episode 4: Patience

The most useful attribute that 15 years of shooting snowboarding professionally has drummed into me is that of patience. Being patient with your riders and respecting the enormous effort they are putting in and the risks they are taking to get a picture forms the basis of a solid, healthy working relationship. Of course, if you’re out on an ice-field somewhere up near the North pole dealing with 24 hours of daylight and the eternal threat of polar bears, this kind of notion can slip from your everyday working practice.

Here is episode 4 of my random set of behind-the-scenes look at our TGR Further Svalbard trip with Jeremy Jones and Terje Haakenson.

January 18, 2012

The Svalbard chronicles episode 3: The door.

Welcome to no. 3 in my random series of insights into the life of an adventuring photographer camping onthe polar island of Svalbard as part of the Further film project.

This episode: There’s no satisfying some adventurers it seems when an inexplainable “number” arrives in camp.

Svalbard chronicles episode 3: the door from danmilner on Vimeo.

January 16, 2012

The Svalbard Chronicles Episode 2: Friction

Another installment of my GoPro video behind the scenes glimpse of the life of an adventure photographer.

Episode 2: Things begin to go awry among the TGR Further splitboard expedition crew, camping deep on the polar island of Svalbard, 700 miles from the North Pole. Well, what do you expect with seven blokes and only one rifle between them?

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