Photographing a mountain bike event – behind the scenes

I was having a little bit of a sort out my computer and came across the photos of the day I was the official photographer at Run and Ride‘s Summer Classic mountain bike race. Not really the kind of photography I normally do but I was offered the opportunity so jumped at it.

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The set up for these photos was pretty straight forward. I got myself in a nice position by the bomb holes at Tackeroo Campsite and set up my Nikon SB800 on a light stand. The camera and myself were at the top of the bomb hole whilst the speed light was positioned just by a tree to camera left. It was fired on manual mode at half power by a Pocket Wizard Plus 2 on top of the Nikon D700.

There was no modifier on the flash, just the bare light and in hindsight I think some diffusion would have helped .


Now I didn’t have a fancy big lens like proper sports photographers but what I did have was a cheap 70-300 f5.6 Nikon G lens which I brought for about £70 years and years ago. Guess what? It did the job. I did miss focus on a few shots but overall it performed really well.

So it just goes to show you don’t need the most fancy pants equipment on the planet to get some decent sports photos.

This year I’ll be racing instead of taking photos as my fitness is slowly coming back, I just need to avoid injury and not fall off my bike, easier said than done.

If you are going to give it a go with the flash gun, make sure you take plenty of spare batteries and a way to weigh down your light stand. Quite often the crowd did get a little too close to my flash but luckily my camera bag was weighing it down stopping it from toppling over.

If you shoot outdoors with a flash gun, share your set ups and let me know how you get on.


One thought on “Photographing a mountain bike event – behind the scenes

  1. Having taken part in almost 30 cycling events, they almost always have an event photographer and photos available after the event.

    As long as the photos are semi decent I’ve almways been happy to purchase but the photos Gaz took at this mountain bike event were a cut above any I’ve ever had the privledge of being in before!

    Gaz’s use of portable flash units obviously went above and beyond that normally expected at these events and is testament to both the quality of work of he produces and the pride in the images he creates.


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