Snowdonia Enduro Photo Assignment

Rider 50

Rider 50

As part of my ‘getting back into photography’ effort I’ve been meaning to photograph a mountain biking event for a while now. I quite like the idea of having a particular ‘assignment’ rather than just wandering around on a photo-walk and hopefully all of the participants in such an event will want to see photos of themselves.

However, I’m normally taking part in such events so don’t have time to photograph them, but as I’ve been side-lined for a while I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to give it a go. I used to do lots of photography back in the days of film, but have only recently got back into it with the purchase of a digital SLR. I haven’t gone mad and don’t have loads of expensive kit, so the plan was to attend the Snowdonia Enduro in North Wales armed with my camera kit, find a few suitable spots and sit there and try to capture photos of as many of the participants as possible. I was planning on maybe even selling some of them if they were good enough, but more on that later.

For those gear-heads amongst you I was using my Canon EOS450D along with two lenses, a 70-300mm and an 18-55mm. Probably not the perfect combination but its all I’ve got so it will have to do. I’ve also just bought a new tripod which I hoped would help me hold the longer lens steady (afterall this is North Wales so I wasn’t expecting great light levels!), and as I was expecting to be sat / standing in one spot for a while trying to capture as many participants as possible I thought that setting things up on a tripod would be a great help.

Rider 124

Rider 124

I got there early and checked out the lay of the land then walked up the first climb of the course and set myself up to capture people coming up the first climb. This was OK, I had the sun behind me and just catching the riders faces (when it was out), but I should probably have gone a bit further up the hill so that the riders were strung out a little more. I only used the longer lens as I wanted to get nice shots of the riders themselves. Next stop was the top of the muddy, slimy descent where I took quite a few shots from a nice vantage point where the riders were framed beautifully by heather in the foreground and the trees in the background.. Making sure I was in a position where people weren’t going too fast was important here.

I then settled down in a few places at the bottom of hill and took yet more shots, by now mainly of the people doing the longer 48km option. I was trying to get some of them cornering to make them look a little more dynamic, but had problems with the background in these as there were often marshalls wandering around at these location and their bright yellow jackets in the background were distracting so I didn’t stay there long.

The tripod was indeed a good help and I was able to start messing around with a few settings to get the results I wanted. Focusing on the moving riders and capturing a nice sharp image was the main problem, and of course getting people faces exposed properly as they are often obscured by the helmets.

It all went well and I had a good day wandering around the hills playing with my camera. I would rather have been riding of course, but being behind the camera wasn’t a bad place to be and I saw a few familiar faces as they cycled past.

Back at home and I processed the photos and was fairly pleased with the results so I’ve watermarked them, resized them and uploaded them here to create a Snowdonia Enduro Photo Album. Overall it was a good day out and fairly successful. I learnt a few things and will probably give it a go at another event soon. Practice makes perfect as my grandad would have said! We’ll see what the competitors think of the photos first.

7 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    I’ve had some early feedback on the photos:

    From the MBNW Forums:

    “Those are excellent PICS. Crumbs he’s got nearly everyone and in the right order too!!”

    “I bought one… I was very impressed”

    From someone who bought one:

    “Shame you missed out on the race but just wanted to say you took some cracking pictures and thank you I am very pleased with mine”

    That makes it all worthwhile already!


  2. Simon says:

    Brilliant photos Al, maybe you should think about doing this every event rather than riding, you seem to have a natural talent. Although I’m sure you have a natural talent on the bike as well!

    It looks as though you captured almost everyone and the spirit of the event as well. They certainly look pretty professional to me.

  3. Alan says:

    Thanks Simon… I’m not sure if you’re right about the natural talent on a bike though!

    I’ve just read that there were 104 riders in total, so I checked and I have photos of 99 different riders so i didn’t do too badly. Sorry to those 5 that I missed!


  4. Ian says:

    Nice write up and some excellent photos. They certainly don’t look like photos from a first timer, they are just as good as any I have seen from other events done by ‘professional’ photographers.

    I guess the fact that you’re a mountain-biker yourself and would usually compete in such events helps as you know what people want to see and can read the course so know where the best places will be.

    Well done!

    • Alan says:

      Cheers Ian,
      I guess it does help and I was consciously trying to make people look good. I know what I’d want from such a photo so I was trying to capture that.

      Did you ride? What number were you?


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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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