Epic Bike Photography

So the title of this post may be a littleĀ enthusiastic on my part but I had an awesome time and the company that sells these bikes even used the images on their Instagram page!

Anyway, at Revolution Bike Park they have a fleet of hire bikes provided by Madison Saracen. In March the new fleet of Saracen Myst Pro’s arrived and I jumped at the chance to photograph these for Rev’s social media and website.

Before shooting the bikes I read up online about how to position the bike for the best possible image. Depending on what you are looking for side on with the drivers side towards the camera is best so it shows off all the components, also you want the pedals to be flat.

I set off up the hill to the Ffar Side track as this has some nice table top jumps in the top section and has a bit more light than some of the other areas on the tracks. I set up the bike by leaning it on a stick to keep it upright (which I later removed in photoshop) I used an off camera flash to light the front of the bike (this reduced the reflections that I had without it).

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Saracen Myst Pro 2018

I had an idea in my head for quite a while which lead me to purchase a load of smoke grenades in December. I got the Enola Gaye wire pull smoke grenades (usually used for paintball and airsoft so they are not dangerous to use). I knew what colour the bikes were going to be so got some yellow and orange smokes to compliment the colouring. You can purchase these smoke grenades online and they are quite cheap.

With the bike still set up I set the smokes off and started shooting. It was a tab more difficult than I thought, as I didn’t have a smoke grenade assistant I was having to move the smokes and take photos at the same time, fortunately the smokes last for 120 seconds and I had a few! Below are my favorite of the smokes.

Once I had finished up the top of the hill/ran out of smoke grenades, I moved to the tips at the bottom of the hill for some more standard photographs. Using the same method as before I let the bike up with a stick and started shooting. I used an aperture of about f4 to really defocus the background and make the bike stand out.

Really happy with the results I got from this experiment and I will defiantly be getting more smoke grenades for other product/portrait photos. Also it is really cool to see my photos on websites other than my own šŸ˜€

Winter Is Here

So for those of you that are out side of the UK, winter here is usually pretty poop with the norm being constant grey overcast rainy days. However Storm Caroline hit the UK on Thursday and brought with her strong winds on Thursday night but then also quite a large amount of snow! So Friday there wasn’t too much when I woke up but it hit hard Friday night – this meant the bike park was going to be closed Saturday.

I had been constantly checking my weather app (I highly recommend weather underground, its so accurate!) on my phone and the forecast for Saturday morning was a bit of cloud but mostly clear – result! My plan was to get up early and photograph the sunrise from the Lonely Tree.

I got up just before 7 am and put on a lot of layers (it was saying the temperature was going to be -1Ā°C but with the wind it would be a bit colder – I know -1 isn’t that cold in the grand scheme of things but I’m soft! hahahah) and donned my head torch as it was still dark outside and headed off up the hill. (Skylar didn’t come as it was a) way too early for her to drag herself out of bed – she likes a lay in! and b) she is worse than me in the cold and i think she would have turned into a puppy shaped ice-cube!). It was an interesting walk to the Lonely Tree as it is rather steep! Fortunately I didn’t slide all the way down and was taking my first photo at 7:40 am in the blue hour just before the sunrise.

Blue Hour Panoramic

It was amazing up there, like a scene from Narnia! And best of all I had it all to myself!!!!

I wondered around a bit looking for a few different compositions while the sun started to rise and the golden hour began.

I took a few photos for panoramic stitching as well as bracketing some exposures for an HDR effect so I could capture the whole range of highlights and shadows.

As the sun started to rise I found another spot to shoot from (I did manage to walk into a snow drift at that point which was almost a deep as my welly boots are tall!!)

Sunrise

I had an awesome time taking my photos and I think I captured some of my best ever photos today.

Sunset Selfies

WOW is been 2 months since I last did a blog post! Can’t believe where the time has gone its like winter now! Anywho a lot has happened in the last couple months. I have finally got a flashgun to play with woop, its awesome and I will do a proper post about it soon.

So enough of my babbling on, today I managed to accomplish something I have been trying to do for a while. Photographing an epic sunset with Skylar dawg lit up with the flash in the foreground. My day wasn’t going great, I had decided to take an unscheduled day off (I normally work 6 days a week so I was looking forward to it) The day started fine then took a downturn when I wanted to do something on my computer which led to more than 2 hours faffing around trying to get my headphones to work before giving up at walking Skylar who was by now really really ready to go for a walk.

I had planned that we would have a wonderful day in the sunshine (which was forecast but the usually grey Welsh autumn/winter weather was in full swing as usual) and I was going to take loads of photos of my besty Skylar. Anyway even with the overcast sky I took the camera and off we went to the lonely tree. The area near the bottom of the hill is quite wooded but also really dark due to the overcast sky’s so we carried on up the hill, as we walked up it was getting closer to golden hour and the clouds were breaking on right side of the valley YAY!!!

When we got to the top I got to work getting all my gear set up and ready for shooting, I did a load of test shots to make sure I had my flash set up properly and not too bright and my focus point right – que bag in place of Skylar who was having a fun time running around like a hooligan. Once I had the focus right It was photography time, Skylar had other ideas though and I forgot the treats so we ended up both being in the photo :-D. I set the camera to interval mode so I didn’t have to keep running between shots to press the trigger again. It worked well doing it like this as I had it set to 10 shots 5 seconds apart to make sure we were in position for at least a few of them!

Needless to say even though I didn’t get any of Skylar on her own this time I am very pleased with the images I got and know what to do next time.

 

Milky way hunting

So since getting my Nikon D700 I have been wanting to go out and get some shots of the milky way. I have played with star shots before in the field at the back of the house but wasn’t able to find the right time or place for an epic milky way encounter.

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Stary sky shot from the field behind the house.Ā 

I have been reading some magazines which mentioned the PhotoPills app and how great it was for planning sunsets, sunrises, milky way and star shots so thought I would have a look for it. On google play store it is about Ā£10 and well worth it from the results I got. It took a lot of watching and replaying the tutorials to get my head around how it actually worked but I got there in the end.

In the middle of July I started planning my shot, I wanted to get a photo of the milky way at the top of the hill behind the house. On the app I had planned it all and wanted to double check I had actually done it right so took Skylar on a walk up to the spot I had chosen and using the AR function I could see that I had planned it right wooo!

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AR of the shot I had been planningĀ 

All I had to do was wait until the new moon and a clear night! I had about a 1 week window to get the best results before the moon was too bright or high in the sky. I finally managed to get out on Monday 24th, I left the house about 10:30 in order to get set up and ready by 11pm. I did a few test shots and once I was happy with my settings got snapping away!

I stayed until 12 as I was starting to get cold (it was a bit windy up there which wasn’t helping) On the way back I saw a couple of badgers which was quite cool, and loads of bats under a bridge hunting.

I processed my images in lightroom and photoshop on the Tuesday after work. I also got to use a technique I had been wanting to try of image stacking. I am very happy with my results and am definitely going to try and get out on the next new moon to get some more!

 

Scotland 2017

So I am just back from our annual trip to Scotland (we’ve been 3 years running, sure it can be classed as annual now). We drove up and stayed at our usual spot on the Argyle coast, it took all day to drive up and we arrived just in time for a beautiful sunset. It’s a great spot for this as you can watch from the end of the damaged pier.

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The next day the weather was AMAZING! I got up before Tim and Skylar and I walked along the shore line of the loch. I brought a new filter for my kit, a Formatt Hitech Firecrest 10 Stop ND filter. I am so glad I invested in this as it doesn’t produce any colour cast and is just totally epic for long exposure shots.

I was out for a while and on the stroll back to the car the clouds were getting really moody and stormy looking and I managed to get some shots of Skylar looking majestic.

The sunĀ  came out and again Skylar was my model looking beautiful (totally not bias at all…not even a little…)

We then decided to walk to the pub, this brought into play my inability to calculate how far anything is away. (It was Tim’s suggestion but I agreed) For some reason I had in my head it was just over a mile away and off we went. On the way we stopped so I could photograph a partially sunken boat. I took a couple shots here with the circle polarising filter and with the ND filter so I could capture a long exposure. It was sooooo windy I had the tripod set as low as possible and eventually got one I wanted. We did finally get to the pub, where we could use the Google how far we actually walked, it was 3.8 miles! Needless to say we ate loads so we could face the walk back to the car!

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The next day or so I took some more landscape photos which I am really proud of.

we then headed further north to Fort William where we had a trade stand at the second stage in the downhill mountain bike world cup. We did manage to get out of the stand on the Sunday to watch a bit of the racing which was awesome as I got to test my photography skills on some of the riders.

After the race we packed up and started heading back home.

Overall I am really happy with my photos and how much my skills are growing. Still need a bit more practice on the mountain bikes but I am looking forward to it.