This weekend I popped up (drove for 6 hours) to the Lakes to take part in the Adventure Photography Academy‘s 48 hour photo challenge. Organised by the team behind the National Academy for Sports and Outdoor Photography, NASOP, the basic premise is as the title suggests. two days to find and shoot three images for submission, in each of the Landscape and Action categories.

Since I’ve not really shot landscape work before I thought it’d be an interesting introduction. On top of all of this, it’s tied to the Kendal Mountain Festival, one the the world’s largest mountain based film festival. Frikkin awesome!

To be fair, ability was quite mixed, with some needing a step by step walk through of Lightroom, whilst others were full time pro shooters specialising in Adventure Sports. Happily this meant I could learn from some and help others do something I really enjoy doing.

So, my three shots, including the , ahem, winning shot (the last one), are below.

Day one, we all set out to shoot some action shots, with road biker and fell runner, Steve. Of course, 12 lenses pointed at the same rider, on the same stretch of road meant I fancied finding a different angle. Over the wall and finding a shoot through set up to frame him up nicely then…

What makes this image special, in my mind, is the fact that I managed to catch the rider in a flash beam fired at full strength from ex580II gorilla podded  to the fence railing above my head, ie. about 40ft away. It might be a little hot in relative exposure terms, but I was glad to have got my aim right.

During the usual comedy small talk between photographers (“erm…F9 at 1/20th”…”erm, I think you’ll find… its actually F8 with this cloud cover, assuming of course that we’re all using matrix metering ‘chortle'”) I got to chatting with Ben. Nice guy, good beard. Turns out, he and I were the only two guys camping, and we’re at the same spot. So, over post-shoot fish ‘n chips, talk of a night shoot gets aired. Since we’ve nowt else to do we wind up checking the OS map for an accessible location likely to have Kendal’s light pollution to work as a back drop.

And this is what we came up with. Perhaps I’ll write this up as an ‘Adventures in Light’ post. Suffice to say, it was the best part of 2 hours, 4 speedlights, stands, tripods and lot of stumbling around in the dark. Great fun in experimentation. The upshot of it was the important lesson that only shutter speed alters the ratio of ambient to flash light. The persistent problem of the ambient ‘burning though’ the flash-lit runner meant that a careful balance of flash-to-shutter duration had to be worked out in order to prevent a ghosted image. (Note to self, take more lights than you think you’d need. Or perhaps more to the point, don’t leave them in the tent.)

Finally, the ‘art-wank’ shot that won:

During the earlier shoot with Steve the road biker, I’d set up for what I hoped would be a uniquely creative shot. Fish-eye lens, shot from the floor, a fairly slow shutter to give some motion blur and some off camera flash to fix certain elements of the rider. As is often the case in photography a bit of serendipity always helps, this shot is an early set up shot that I initially discounted. Back in the editing suite however it struck me that this was the wild card I was after  and following a hasty bit of working up the levels and colours, I submitted it as the third of my action sport set, with 3 minutes to spare ,

Not since my school days have I been on a stage to recieve an envelope. Announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival award ceremony with this shot on the big screen behind me I took the prize whilst, ironically, failing to look at the camera for the press shot. Ah well.

Incidentally, Ben took the Landscape category award for a stunning night shot of his tent against the orange burning sky. Looks like carefully set up shot taken in the wilderness. Funnily enough, I know it was shot using the light from his laptop in the tent, from our campsite, 2 miles down the round from the auditorium.
In summary then a great weekend, but after catching three hours of the ‘best of’ films from the festival I really want to make a film…sigh.

About The Author


Action and adventure photographer based in London, shooting commercial and editorial images that seek to capture the beauty in the lifestyles he loves

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