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

November 11, 2014

Come to the Dark side – the Kinesis bikes Peak shoot

Filed under: bike, photography — Tags: , , , , , , — danmilner @ 9:05 am

I’ve been riding mountain bikes since 1985. My first story ran in MBUK in 1993 —a feature about riding in Majorca, complete with dodgy action selfies, taken by balancing my camera on a nearby rock, while I balanced a trackstand in between some boulders, again. Although happily published, it made me realise I needed to get better at taking photos (and do trips with other people). Mountain bikes are, and have always been a big part of my life. I don’t ride a road bike very often. But to me bikes are bikes. They are amazing things. They are tickets to adventure. They are mobility marvels. They are part of the only transport solution that sort out our cities properly.

On reflection - Scott Purchas and the T2. Nikon D3s, 24-70 2.8.

On reflection – Scott Purchas and the T2. Peak District. Nikon D3s, 24-70 2.8.

So when I get asked to shoot a road bike session, I have no problem with that, at all. Especially if it’s in one of the most beautiful, and one of my favourite, places of the UK —the Peak District National Park. Last month’s shoot for Kinesis UK was all about showing their latest T2 bike as the do-anything machine that today’s everyday rider needs: commuter / winter hack / mile-munching tourer / summer sportif. But mostly winter hack on this photo brief, which is where the Dark Peak in late October comes in.

Moody, brooding, up against the elements. Thats the Peak District I’ve always know, from childhood day trips to hike over Kinder Scout, to wet camping and mountain bike weekends riding hardtails with 35mm of elastomer suspension up front. And I’ve got to say, even after all the incredible places in the World I’ve shot, this one place in the middle of the UK is still right up there. I think it always will be, whatever bike I’m shooting.

Wet roads, dry stone walls.

Wet roads, dry stone walls.

June 24, 2011

Sleep is overrated: 24 hours of shooting the Mayhem

Filed under: bike, photography — Tags: , , — danmilner @ 8:46 am

I’m a morning person. I’ve worked that out over the years. While I am a sprightly (some say annoying) ball of energy first thing, my energy peters out by the evenings, usually, leaving me sullen, a grumpy participant of dinner parties and snowcamping escapades alike, moody and wanting to go home and to bed. Last Saturday the mould was broken though, when I had to opportunity to stay up way beyond my accustomed bedtime to shoot the now legendary Mountain Mayhem 24 hour MTB race for one of its sponsors, The North Face.

My boy scout year wasn't wasted: knowing where the sun sets (thats West) means getting a heads up on where might be a good place to backlight riders at dusk. Silhouettes mean you can't see the grimace of pain though. 9 hours in and 15 to go. Nikon D3s, 24-700 2.8.

I’m no stranger to bike-orientated masochism, but wanting to ride for 24 hours straight is another deal altogether. A ten mile hilly lap means by midday the second day, the top soloists will have ridden 210 miles, and the top team 270 miles. Madness? Perhaps, but many don’t see it that way. Now in its 15th year, the Mayhem is going strong, and luckily for me, its 1500 amassed solo and team entrants (including the TNF’s own ‘factory’ team and soloist Rob Dean who I was assigned to shoot) together generate the kind of electric atmosphere that will keep a sleep derived photographer focussed for the duration of the event, long enough to capture what he thinks is the essence of a 24 hour endurance event like this. on a Saturday night is the best time for curry, even in a Worcestershire field.. Nikon D3s,14-24 2.8

And so armed with my now trusty Nikon armory, a dual flash-and-slave set up and an impressive rustle of waterproofs (hey it is England in June after all) I strode purposefully from the start line and paced the 10 mile course with the 13.5 Kg (29.5lb) monkey that is my photo pack on my back. To and fro, up and down and back up the same hillsides, working every angle of late and early light I could calculate, while being blinded by the 4,000,000 lumen LED ‘s of today’s headlamps (I retaliated by firing my flashes back into the riders faces of course, hey fair’s fair) I was driven onward by the unbridled energies of the riders themselves. Rain, wind and sunburn. Sleep deprivation, blisters and dehydration. And a heady mix of exhaustion and endorphins. I might not have been actually on a bike, but I think I got to share some of the rider’s experience.

Gratuitous tree shot. Riders thrown in for free. Nikon D3s, 70-200 2.8 VRII.

So thanks Mountain Mayhem riders. Thanks for keeping the energy going all night long. Thanks for helping a photographer stay up a little later than his bedtime, for a change.

Down in the innertube station at midnight. Nikon D3s, 50 1.4.

December 23, 2010

Does the UK really have wi-fi? Only on down days.

Filed under: bike, photography — Tags: , — danmilner @ 8:31 pm

Smell my leaves. Leica M8 / Voigtlander 15 5.6

Yes I know, there was a little radio silence on my part. Three weeks away in the techologically-advanced, wi-fi-zapped UK should have meant regular blog posts, and would of course if I was the kind of My-Face-Twit obsessed geek whose life was dictated by such dubiously time-consuming hobbies. But I’m not. Instead I got 3 weeks back in my parent-land shooting photos and presenting slideshows at the Kendal Mountain Festival and of course… riding bikes.


Since my in-depth nose around the UK’s bike spots last year and (resultant Bike mag cover) this green and pleasant land is now firmly on my annual riding radar; it really is that good, even in late November, helped in due by sure-grip trail centres like Whinlatter and Grizedale. Aficionados of Milner photos will of course be familiar with my penchance for autumn colours and light (I’m a photographer, so no surprise there) and the UK in November can be one of those places that oozes such qualities.

Adding a touch of the 'post apocalyptic' to the beautiful Lakes. Leica M8 / Voigtlander 15 5.6

Other stalkers of my work will also know my gravity towards trees and the magnetic draw they, or specifically their shapes and forms have on me as soon as one appears in my field of vision, usually leading to me pulling to a dead stop on even the most flowing descents as soon as there is a tree picture to be had, often leaving my fellow riders to hike back up the trail to check if I’ve come a cropper. The UK in November has these too. And yet others more in tune with my artistic palette will identify with a certain leaning towards a dark and moody (some even venture the term ‘post-apocalyptic’) feel given to much of my work. You guessed it, bike trails in England’s Lake District on a late autumn afternoon can even lend themselves handsomely to that as well. Artistic boxes ticked? You bet.

So in a nut shell, the reason there hasn’t been much new up here in the monkey blog is that there were trails to ride and photos of them to capture.

I hope these humble offerings make up for my online absence.

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