Mountain Bike Sports Portraits

Last month, just before the Canadian National Mountain Bike Championships at Hardwood Ski and Bike, the marketing manager, John, asked me to create some promotional photographs for Hardwood. He wanted a number of images of riders practicing on the new Nationals course. I’ll post some of those images in another post.

Anyway, John had been asking me to go for a ride with him and create some portraits of him on his mountain bike and we finally managed to find a time that worked with both of our schedules. We headed out on Serious, an 11 km trail at Hardwood, and stopped at a couple of places along the way which I had long identified as great spots for the type of portraits I like to create.

This session was another opportunity for me to continue refining my lightweight, portable sports portrait set up. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I switched to an Olympus OMD E-M5 micro 4/3 system due to its small size, light weight and high performance results. The next step to reducing my pack weight was finding a way to eliminate the lightstands. Despite having the already very light and compact Manfrotto Nano stands, they do add a considerable amount of weight and bulk to a cycling bag. A trip to MEC and the hardware store later, and I had the makings for a set of nut-bungees. Using some 1/8″ shock cord and some small nuts, I fashioned up a series nut-bungees of varying length. I needed to custom make these instead of just ordering pre-made ball bungees, because I wanted sizes that would wrap around tree trunks of various sizes.

John and I put the nut-bungees to the test and they worked out quite well. The overall design needs some tweaking as it is difficult to access the control panel of my SB900 flashes as they are pressed against the tree trunk. And adjusting the tilt of the flash required choosing a small stick and wedging it between the tree and the flash. Does it work? Heck yeah. Light weight? Yep. A bit of a nuisance? Yeah. So, I’m brainstorming on a mount plate that can be strapped to a tree and then the flash mounted to the plate. Maybe with a tiny ball-head? Maybe the plate can have multiple mounts to let me mount more than one flash and boost my flash power? Yeah, I’m adding weight back to the bag, but this might be useful weight. We’ll see.

In the mean time, here’s the rest of the images from John’s session.