Archive for 'Sports'


Female mountain bike rider on an elevated skinny platform

Shortly after creating these mountain bike portraits for my friend John, I got out for a ride with Arienne and had the camera along again. Stopping at a couple of great locations we created these portraits for Arienne. Arienne then offered trip the shutter for me so I could get a couple portraits of my own. (Yay, thanks Arienne!)

Then, just as we were finishing up our ride, we came up to a feature Arienne had constructed earlier this year. Okay, Arienne, how do you feel about riding this skinny while a blast you in the face with a flash? Always an upbeat, try-anything-that-won’t-hurt, kinda gal, she was game for it. Glad she was. Love this image at the top, especially since it her own trail feature!

Well, here are the rest of here portraits along with one of me, too!




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.


(Click the fullscreen button to see these in full awesomeness.)

With the weather finally looking and behaving distinctly spring-like these last couple of weeks it has been time to get out on the bike again. It took forever for all the snow to melt away on trails so I was limited to riding on the roads for a few weeks, but we are in full on trail riding season now.
And why is this exciting?

Because it is time to start making mountain biking images again. Friends Sarah and Marion invited me out for a ride with them last week and I warned them that I would be bringing the camera out with me.

I was pretty excited to get out there this spring as I had added a new camera system to my arsenal this past winter. The compact (and more importantly – lightweight) Olympus OMD E-M5 mirrorless micro 4/3 camera system. I’ve been looking forward to getting out and seeing if this camera can keep up with my mountain bike images ever since I got it.

Why? You ask. Last year, mountain bike portraits involved the Nikon D3s, 70-200 f2.8, 16-35 f4, multiple flashes, light stands and remotes. All of that added up to massive weight in my pack on my back. It really messed with my stability and maneuverability, not to mentioned adding so much weight that I struggled up most of the hills. Not fun. Oh, and the thought of stacking it on the bike with $12000k plus of camera on my back… Well you get the idea.

Well, maybe not, if you haven’t seen how compact and lightweight the OMD system is. Joy!!!!!

Anyhow, got out there we did. Using the PocketWizard Flex triggers on the OMD and Nikon SB900 flashes, we created a number of images during our ride. Most important – the images turned out GREAT. Secondly, the OMD was even easier to use for this purpose than the Nikon D3s. Third? I barely noticed I was carrying around a camera. Win! I’ve been DIY-ing a few things around the shop here to try to get rid of at least one light stand. I think I have that all worked out and that’ll mean even less weight to pack around.

And that means even more opportunities for portraits.


Hey there everyone!

I want to show you some of the portraits I created for the youths and instructors of ProAction Mountain Bike Club.

But first, a bit of background on this club and how I came to be involved with them.

ProAction is a fundraising organisations whose sole purpose is to raise money so that police officers in Toronto (and now Durham and Hamilton) can develop programs which bring police and youth together in meaningful, constructive programs.

Three years ago, Marc Hayford, of 54 Division in East York, Toronto started a mountain bike club for some of the underprivileged youth in his area. Working with funding from ProAction and support from various businesses, the club is able to provide a weekly programme to approximately a dozen youth each year. At the start of the school year, the youth are all kitted up with everything they need to enjoy mountain biking – bikes from Kona, and this year Trek, helmets, gloves, camelbaks – and the instruction starts. 54 Division and neighbourhood where these youth live is right beside the Don River and the hundred or so kilometres of mountain bike trail there. Every Thursday afternoon the cops and youth converge, unload their bikes from the trailer and head out for a ride.

Once winter comes, the bikes are stored away and the club shifts to indoor wall climbing. Come spring, they head out Milton to put their climbing skills to the test on some real rock walls and then the bikes come out again. On weekends, they might go camping, compete in a 24h mountain bike race or head up to Hardwood Ski & Bike for some intense training (that’s where I come into the story, but more on that in a minute!).

At the end of the summer, providing the youth have stayed out of trouble and kept with the programme, they get to keep the bikes and gear and the club starts again with a new group. Of course, the programmes graduates are always welcomed back for a Thursday ride with the new group.

So, this past summer, Hardwood called me up and asked if I would provide a lesson a group of Cops and Kids from Toronto. Sure, why not. Love riding, love teaching. What a great group I met. I quickly realised that these riders were not the usual group of uncoordinated, bike-clumsy teenagers we usually see in the school groups at Hardwood. I rapidlly started shifting gears and modified my programme to put these guys to the test. And then, I took them out on Sidewinder – but not before introducing them to Boneshaker on Radical.

Fabulous day. Exchanged contact details. Kept in touch. New group started this fall. “Can we set something up to give this new crew some awesome instruction and riding?” You bet.

And I got thinking. I was really impressed with what this group was trying to accomplish – introduce youth (high immigrant fraction) to mountain biking, show them the wonders of urban trails on the Don, develop cooperative relationships between youth and cops. I sent Marc an email saying next time they were up, I wanted to create mountain bike portraits for all the members. And so it was on.

Weekend before last, the gang was up here for some lessons and another crack at Radical and Sidewinder. We had to veto some trail features until they were more experienced when they come back again next summer. Speaking of which, the way these guys are riding now, I’m going to have to really pull out the stops to put together the next level of training. hmmm, maybe some big drops, log hopping and elevated skinnies?

Last week I drove down to 54 Division and joined the club for their last ride in Don. What a great place to ride. A bit muddy compared to here, but great, great trails.

I’m really looking forward to joining up with them some time this winter to go wall climbing with them and create another set of portraits – Stay tuned!  In the meantime, here are some of the portraits I created for these guys (Click the full screen button for awesomeness!):


Last weekend was the 2012 IMBA Ontario Trailblazing Festival at Hardwood Ski & Bike.

It’s funny how things come together now and then.  About a month ago I started seeing notices about the Trailblazing Festival and started checking it out.  I discovered that the IMBA Trail Care Crew was going to be putting on a Trail Building and Care workshop the day before the festival.  Oh, I’m so all over that.  Signed up straight away.  Shortly afterwards, the guys at Hardwood contacted me to see if I would be available to teach rider clinics on the Saturday of the Festival.  Heck ya!  What’s not to love about riding and helping others skill-up and overcome at the same time?!  Then (yes there’s more!) I had a couple Facebook messages from an old friend from Yellowknife, Steve Hahn.  Turns out he’s in Guelph (geographically next door compared the distance between us over the last 10 years) for a couple months.  We start talking about getting together for a weekend to ride.  Then I remember the Trailblazing Festival, flick him over the details.  Bam, he’s signed up, gone out and snagged a used bike and things are in motion.

Let’s step back a bit.  Last time I saw Steve was over 10 years ago this summer.  We were both living in Yellowknife at the time and we had come together through work and bikes.  Steve was a med-evac nurse working with Jen.  We were both cutting our teeth on the incredibly technical, unforgiving trails of Yellowknife.  Almost literally cutting teeth, too.  After a couple awesome summers of riding, Steve announced plans to move to Whitehorse.  Then we moved to Australia.  blah blah blah. 10 years has passed.  Then, both us picked up mountain biking again this year in a big way and, well, Trailblazing Festival brought about a reunion.  Woot!

After an awesome (and LONG!) day of riding at the Festival on Saturday, neither one of us felt like putting down the miles of either the 30 or 50k epic rides being hosted by IMBA, so we decided to do our own thing.

Chucked a few flashes, stands, a camera and some basic provisions into a rucksack and off we went into the local trails.  I have had a mountain bike photograph burned into my mind all summer and finally had the talent lined up.  “Game for launching a ramp, Steve?”  “heck ya!”  “over and over again?” “Bring it on.”  Well, something like that anyway.

Hooked up the lights and stands, framed up the image and the rest is magic.  Created these two images.  (As always, click for bigger, more awesome goodness!)

We moved on to an elevated skinny I wanted to work up into another epic image but a combination of raspberries from hell, rain and an impending lunch date sent us packing before we could execute that vision.  Well, as Wade Simmons would say “Gotta leave something for another ride!”


Hey there everyone,

I’m pretty excited to be showing you these images today.  Earlier this week I had organised to get together with a couple of mountain bike instructors at Hardwood Ski & Bike to have a bit of fun creating some awesome sports lifestyle portraits.  Yes, you’re quite right, these are the same two instructors who helped me out with some cross country skiing portraits at the end of the winter this year.

When I was down in Cincinatti a couple of weeks ago with LaDawn and David Ziser honing my portrait and wedding portrait skills I had the chance to chat with David about niching down our family portrait studio into sports lifestyle portraits.  Everyone I bounced my ideas off thought this was an awesome way to create a real niche for our business.  Getting that niche right is really hard work.  I distinctly recall how tough Dane Sanders was on us at the Fasttrack Workshop last August. He was adamant that we could not be truly successful until we identified what it was that each of us was uniquely intended to do.  Identifying this niche has taken a lot of time and consideration and it really wasn’t until late in the winter and early this spring that I started getting a feel for what I really wanted to pursue with my photography.

I knew it had to involve families and children.  Anyone who has worked with us will attest to how alive I become when I’m interacting with and photographing children.  I also love the opportunity to create meaningful portraits for families.  There are precious few family portraits in my family history and most of them are big wedding family pictures.  I don’t really have a sense of what my parents were like at my age and younger with their young family, so it is really important to me to create these images for our clients.

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer

Thing is, family portraits isn’t a particularly unique niche.  As I was reminded at Ziser’s workshop – its the differences that make the difference in this business.

Enter Family Sports Lifestyle Portraits.  Whether it’s horseback riding, mountain biking, golf, disc golf, camping, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, whatever your family is passionate about, that’s what we are all about.  Jen and I are passionate about active lifestyles.  We bike, ski, paddle, run, camp, hike.  So we’ve put these two passions – family photography and sports – together.

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer

Back to these images.  I can’t show you what we can do without showing what we can do, can I?  Sounds like a bit of a circle there, eh?  Right, so, I need volunteers to help create some examples to show people. This is what Arienne and Sharon from Hardwood were helping out with this week.

Like I said, I’m pretty excited to be showing you these images and I would love to hear what you think.  Let me know in the comments!

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer

Also, for a very limited time and for a very limited number of people we are offering some pretty awesome incentives for helping us build out this portfolio.  If you, or someone you know, would be interested in modelling for us – kids, teens, couples, families – drop us an email or a phone call.  Did I say awesome incentives?  I’m talking like over 75% our regular studio prices.  So yeah, really awesome, but once we have a handful of these sessions booked, the incentives go away, so first come – first served!

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer