A few months ago I got an email from Michel Romen, owner of Rideprojects.nl and author of Bike Skills (best sold book about mountainbiking in the Netherlands), telling me he was planning on republishing the book with new photos and the question being if I would be interested of taking some photos of him mountainbiking on La Palma. I immediately felt that this would be a great opportunity for me to expand my photographing skills. I knew it was going to be a big challenge because I hadn´t done any mountainbike photography before but as everything in photography, with good lighting and a lot of passion, you´re always going to have a great result.
About two months and about 50 emails later, I went to pay him a visit in his hotel near my home in Santa Cruz de La Palma the day before our first shoot. We got off on the right foot right away and I knew that this was going to be an amazing experience. So our three day photoshoot journey across the island began!
The next day I picked him up at 9am and off we went in my jeep, with cameraequipment and with his bycicle ofcourse. After hours and hours of driving and wandering around on different hiking trails, we got to our first photo location. I must say I was more convinced then he was, probably because I don´t know anything about mountainbiking trails and what makes a good turn, jump or hill. Because he already published his first book filled with amazing photos and he has been writing articles and taking photographs for various Mountainbike magazines for the last ten years this time I had to wait for him to tell me what place worked and what place didn´t work at all. I never really had that before, usually I tell people where the good light is and where to stand, sit, jump etc. but in this case I had to listen to the pro.
Although we didn´t take that many photos the first day, I was convinced that the second and third day were going to be better. The night after the first shoot he send me a few links of Mountainbike magazines to look through to get some inspiration and I noticed some of the techniques other photographers had used in the magazines, so I decided to shoot with two remote flashes the second day. I had used some flash the day before but the result hadn´t been as good as I expected. The second day however we decided to got to the top of the island, near the Roque de Los Muchachos at an altitude of about 2.300 metres. As where the first day we had some problems with the weather; being foggy, cloudy and all of a sudden sunny. The second day we were shooting in the best kind of conditions for this type of shoot, at least in my opinion: clear blue sky with gave us a great contrast and by lighting the subject (Michel on his mountainbike) with the two remote flashes, we got a great result showing all the details of the specific movement/technique that he wanted to show in the book.
The higher we got, the better the weather conditions. This photo was taken with two remote flashes: one on the left behind Michel and the other one to the right.
A funny thing was that Michel brought a fisheye lens with him and asked me to use it in some of the photos. I must say that I had never used a Fisheye before and was a bit nervous about the results. but I was simply blown away with the result. So I was very happy to have been able to practice with a Fisheye and am adding a Fisheye on my Christmas wish list:)
Example of a photo taken with the Fisheye lens.
After the third day of shooting I took Michel back to the hotel and I can honestly say that we were both dead tired, having been taking photos from 9am to 7pm three days in a row. But as we both are photography junkies we were having a great time, although I had a lot of work left to do being the processing of all the photos and editing the sequences and all this within a day, because he was leaving the day after that. I always process all of my work in Lightroom which to me works a lot faster that the combination Adobe Bridge/Photoshop, but that´s just my opinion.
In the end I think I did a pretty good job and Michel was very pleased with the result. In the future I hope to have more of these kind of projects, I really started appreciating this sport after the experience and although I don´t think I´m going to buy a mountain bike very soon, I do plan on learning more and more about photographing this amazing sport.