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

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.

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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.

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?

December 25, 2011

The Svalbard Chronicles part 1: Downtime in camp.

It’s that time of year when bike shoots get muscled out by the ripped torso of snow-bound adventures and the postie suffers relapsed hernias while trying to  stuff  my letter box with assorted snow mags from around the world that feature my work shot last winter. This week the latest Transworld Snowboarding dropped with a resounding thud onto my WELCOME door mat, well in fact 2 significant issues of TWS did -the 2011/12 Photo Annual and their 25th anniversary issue. The former sports what TWS’ editors have gathered as the “greatest” shots of the year, and my shot of Jeremy Jones dropping what we tagged “the Nat Geo chute” during our recent Further Svalbard Arctic camping trip scored the spread as “Best Landscape” shot of 2011. I’d be happy enough if this was it all, but nay! The 25th anniversary issue lists my Deeper Alaska story from 2 winters ago amongst the ten most memorable features TWS have run in their 25 years as the world’s leading Snowboard title. Yes, of course I’m chuffed.

Is it really that hard to shoot the "landscape shot of the year" when you have this location and this rider to fill the frame. Surely all I had to do was press the shutter, right? Hmm, yes and hike up to this vantage point at 11 pm. And try to fend off frostbite. And sit out another 3 day storm. And eat 2 weeks of freeze dried meals.. and that's not touching on the polar bear issue. .Nikon D3s, 70-200 2.8 VRII

So to help me celebrate this boost in ego, I’m launching here the Svalbard Chronicles… a varied and randomly ill-defined edit of my video-diary from the same 3-week Svalbard camping session back in May. if nothing else the video pieces may help you understand how, why and what the hell a mountain photographer’s life is all about. Be warned: there will be more.

December 8, 2011

The mangina chronicles 2: a short safety video about mixing boats and bikes in Scotland

Filed under: bike, The Mangina chronicles — Tags: , , — danmilner @ 4:48 pm

Righto, so an idea I had for a while was to use a boat to cruise Scotland’s 90-mile Caledonian Canal from East coast Inverness to West coast MTB-mecca Fort William and back. We’d use the boat as our base, hotel and transport putting ashore to access natural trails in the beautiful Scottish highlands. With what sounded like a jolly splendid family holiday in my mind, resplendently embellished with the dreamy visions of sipping G&T’s on the sun deck while watching the entertainingly impish behaviour of wild otters frolicking in the late summer sunset, I set about pitching the story to assorted mountain bike mags, and dug out my powerboat day skipper credentials….

Of course, as usual, I hadn’t counted on the reality of the assignment’s timing: a week in mid October only a few days after the first autumn snow had left the scottish hills coated, arriving in the middle of a gale. The only otters we’d see would be flailing in the chilly loch Ness waters, wearing sagging scarves and mittens.

And I hadn’t counted on the landlubbing crew I’d be lumbered with for a week. They couldn’t tie a sheepshank between them. Luckily they knew how to ride bikes well.

So reach for the rum m’ hearties, and watch a taster of the story that will pillage the pages of MBUK come spring.

Oh and the riding? Yep it was amazing. Scotland is like that.

November 8, 2011

The mangina chronicles 1: Hell hath no fury…

Filed under: bike, photography — Tags: , , — danmilner @ 9:18 pm

Yes, thanks to the good people at Go-Pro HD camera and bike-bit people Madison in the UK, I now get to grab some of that newfangled moving image stuff on many of my photo-adventures. The result? An irregular series of episodes called the Mangina Chronicles: an insight into the trials and tribulations of an adventuring photo-chimp.  Part 1 here comes to you as a sneak peek into the recent 2-dayer Lavaredo Ultra Trail epic we attempted on bikes, shot as a story for a forthcoming MBUK feature and video’d for The North Face. The full video episode will be on the ‘The North Face‘ website soon.

Don’t worry, this movie malarky will never catch on… so here’s another epic still shot from the same Dolomites trip to de-stress you. Sit back and gaze forlornly at the nice static image.

Josh Ibbet out past his bedtime.. or was it before his get-up time. It's all a sweaty blur now.

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