Sunday, November 01, 2009

If You Go Down To The Woods Today

Last night was certainly full of surprises. I went along to support and shoot the “MUDDY HELL” Rollapaluza Halloween Cyclo Cross event at Herne Hill in London.

It was a great night and, as you can see from the pics, somewhat surreal. Normally with "Fancy Dress" events you'd expect things to be laid back and not-so-serious; not this lot, I forgot how fast cyclocross is to watch and these guys weren't out for a gentle trick-or-treat ride.

The course was pretty much flat starting in the in-field at Herne Hill before heading up across the track and down into the cold, damp woods. Just because it was fairly flat though, didn't mean the organisers hadn't crammed in a lot of riding in a not very big patch of woods.

The tight course made it easier to move around and find some decent locations. The complete darkness -apart from one flood-lit berm- in the woods did make it tricky to get any shots that had some (any) atmosphere in them, and looking through exif data today, I shot a total of 33 shots below iso800, 1600-3200 was definitely the order of the day.

Muddy Hell, Halloween Cyclocross
iso3200, 1/125@f2.8 lighting: rider's own

I stuck around the flood-lit berm for a while as it was wide enough and slow enough to get some decent panning/2nd-curtain shots. The in-field was lit centrally by some massive floods which, at iso 1600 and up, were bright enough to fill in more background/foreground detail.

Muddy Hell, Halloween Cyclocross
iso3200, 1/40@f4 lighting: fill-in flash and monster diesel floods (with colour balance set to "zombie green for the occasion I presume)

I had great night, and everyone else that I spoke to seemed to agree. Luckily it was Saturday and not Sunday night too: as I write this it's proper pissing it down and cold out there. I can only pass on my thanks to Rollapaluza, for putting it all together, the marshalls for ditecting everyone in the dark and the the riders for insisting on hammering round the course despite dressing up like loons. Certainly the most entertaining race I've shot in a while.

*Just one little niggle though: Not sure if it's UCI regs or what but: what's with the numbers only on one side, at the back? Certainly doesn't make it easy to put names to faces (or monsters or mummies or witches) for photos.

As usual there's decent selection over on Flickr and I've put a more extensive gallery schpleep.com

(*talking of Flickr , this is the busiest day on my account for a while: >1500 hits so far, almost all of them for last nights pics. Looks like I wasn't the only one that enjoyed it)
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