For my blog I thought it might be interesting to give you all some behind the scenes information. For this article I am going to talk about a normal day covering an event for a client. Recently I shot the Enduro National Round 2 for Pinkbike, in Stromlo, Canberra. Being in the Blue Mountains area of Sydney, Stromlo is a bit of a way to go, but I like the venue and I had a few mates going so making the decision to go was easy.
I knew there would be other photographers covering the event for other outlets as well, which put a bit of pressure on to deliver a quality result.
So here’s a timeline of events. Probably not that exact, but close enough.
10AM the day before
Get an email from Pinkbike confirming the assignment.
4PM the day before
Print out all the rider lists and course maps. Analyze the course maps and have a think about scheduling.
I worked out that I would go up the hill for some scenic shot to start with, get down and shoot at the Rider briefing, then work my way up the hill to around the metal bridge area for Stage 1. Then over to around Pork Barrel->Double Dissolution junction for Stage 2, then head back towards Little Seymour for Stage 4 and back to Triple Treat on the Downhill for stage 5.
That’s a little more organised than i’d be normally but since this was my first enduro event I wanted to make sure I was ready to get good shots in some areas I knew would be reasonable for shooting at, as well as not needing to ride uphill too much on the bike to get around.
7PM the night before
Pack my gear and put it into the car. My Giant Trance bike, my backpack with my camera gear in it, and an extra bag with other camera gear, change of clothes, laptop, spare batteries, riding gear and a helmet.
9PM the night before
Go to bed ready for an early wakeup.
Wake up call from my alarm. Get up, get dressed and pack the car ready to go. Drive to Damo’s house at Winmalee.
Get to Damo’s, put my bike and gear in his car and start driving to Canberra, picking up Mark on the way. Damo’s had almost no sleep, so I drive his car most of the way. Along the way the temperature gets down to 2 degrees celsius outside and a few patches of fog.
Reach Goulburn and have some breakfast. Coffee goes down good.
Get back on the road towards Canberra. Visibility down Lake George and all the way into Canberra is about 30m only from the fog, so we go a bit slower than normal. It’s about 3 degrees celsius the whole way. About 6.20AM the sun starts coming out and there’s a few little patches where the fog clears for a pretty nice sunrise.
Reach Stromlo. Grab my bag and get on the bike straight away and have a ride up to get some scenic shots for the article.
Rider briefing time. Get over and take a couple of shots, and have a word with a few people I know.
Get riding up the middle fire trails to my first photo spot around the metal bridge. Get a few snaps on Luge. Realise there’s a few random sunday riders without plates coming down the track, I tell them to get off the track and realise there must be some tape missing.
Stop shooting at Luge and walk up to the other side of the bridge where the riders are coming down the last part of Up The Anti for stage 1 and get a few shots there. Fix up the missing tape, someone’s taken it off a pole at the end of Skyline track where it meets the bridge crossing, grr. I had a great bit of sunlight coming in from the right hand side of the frame right as they went through a tree lined section that was otherwise a bit dark. This made some good separation for the riders as they came into the light, then I put a remote flash on the left hand side of the frame to subtly light the rider’s other side to really separate them from the background.
Last elite rider (Chris Panozzo) comes past where I am. Time to move on. As I’m packing up my mate Jon Gatt comes past, so I get packed and ride over with him and his mate Blake to the top of Stage 2/3/4, at the top of Western Wedgetail. Was going to go to Pork Barrel/Double Dissolution for Stage 2, but by the time we get moving I’m just not going to get much there, and there’s more to shoot up high anyway. I’m glad to have someone to chat with on the way. On the way run into Craig, getting a lift down with a broken bike and a few grazes, courtesy of Stage 1.
Get to the top of Stage 2/3/4. Get a couple of “lifestyle” shots, action shots on Skyline and a couple of scenic ones. Not much time now to get down into Short and Sharp for Elite Women’s, Junior Men and Elite Men down that for Stage 3.
Start moving down into a good spot on Short and Sharp. I’ve ridden Short and Sharp before, so I know it’s a tight, rocky and steep track that should have some good photo opportunities, so I don’t mind that I haven’t got to shoot on Pork Barrel. I get into a spot as the Junior Men start coming past.
Last elite rider comes past my shooting spot on Short and Sharp. Start walking back up the steep track. Realise that i’ve lost my sunglasses, lucky they’re just cheap Vans ones. Have a chat to Matt Rousu who’s covering the event for Revolution. Work out where I’m gonna go next, realise I probably need to get to Stage 5 now if i want to get more shots of Juniors and Masters guys as I’ve not got a lot.
Get to a new vantage point near Triple Treat for stage 5. I wish i packed some food into my bag at this point, pretty hungry. Get a few shots of the Masters guys in Triple Treat, make sure I get a few of the Elite Women as I hadn’t got a lot so far. Highlight of this spot was seeing Ryan Walsch absolutely send it with a clearly flat tyre.
Last elite Men rider (Panozzo) comes past. Get on my bike and ride down the downhill track to the event centre down at the car park. Not feeling brave enough to send any jumps for the crowd with 6kg on my back. Seems to be quite a lot more people spectating down the bottom.
Get a few event centre shots, and try to get some food. The sausage sizzle is about to run out of sausages. The podiums are held up a bit by some people not bringing their transponders back but that gets sorted soon. Have a chat to everyone I know.
Podiums. Get photos. Afterwards, get an interview with Chris for the article, and chase down Claire for an interview, lucky I found her still in the carpark!
Everyone’s cooked, so no chance of any photoshoot work with the riders this afternoon. Everyone just wants to get back to Sydney. We load up the car, and go and get some food. On the way I get podium photos off the camera and onto Facebook via my phone (haven’t done that before!). Get the trace off the Garmin and upload to Strava. Quite a fair amount of riding for just taking photos, but not as much as the competitors by a long shot!
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I get home and start downloading photos onto my computer, pick out a few for the article and get to bed.
7.00AM the next day
Finish the article and photos and hit submit to editors on the article on Pinkbike.
10.00AM the next day
The article goes live on Pinkbike, I post it up on the social feeds. https://www.pinkbike.com/news/australian-national-enduro-series-round-2-stromlo.html
Gallery of photos available for viewing and sale here: http://www.bensykesphotography.com/p126847170