© 2016 Liam Doran | 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art on Canon 1DX. Climbing high on a hill gave me a great view of the race and surrounding mountains.
I spent the better part of last week chasing some of the best mountain bikers in the country all around my hometown trails of Breckenridge Colorado for the Breck Epic 6 Day bike race.
The Breck Epic is a six day mountain bike stage race held every August in Breckenridge, CO. Its open to all levels and abilities from big name pros to those just entering the sport. It is incredibly challenging(courses are 35-50 miles with 4,800-7,200 vert) but rewards racers with some of the most scenic single track riding in the U.S.
I don’t shoot much race coverage, in fact this is the only race I have covered this year. My assignment was twofold: get great back-country action shots and also capture behind the scenes images of two of the racers. These images were used to promote the race, town, athletes and brands involved.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art lens on Canon 1DX. Ouch! A racer shows us how tough this race can be. She got a few stitches and finished up the race.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 320 f/10 1/250 sec.At one point I got into a less than ideal shooting location where I could barely get off the trail the racers were on. Solution: grab the 12-24 and put a flash on camera and drag the shutter a bit.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 400 f/5.6 at 1/640 sec. I was happy to find this fresh angle on the course. I used the 70-200 and shot through some aspen branches to frame my racer. Red and gren generally work well together and the dark backdrop really makes him pop.
Challenging shoots like this are what I live for. I have shot this race more than once so I would need ot study the course maps and also choose my gear wisely to help me get a fresh perspective. My go-to kit every day consisted of a Canon 1DX accompanied by the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6, 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art and 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS lenses. This would be the core kit but I would also add the 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS Sports, 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS Sports, 35mm F1.4 Art and 50mm F1.4 Art lenses from time to time as well as the Canon 7DMKII. In addition to my daily kit I would also have lightweight Rab waterproof jacket and pants(which I wore quite a bit) food water, flash, extra batteries and cards all carried in my Clik Elite Contrjour 40 pack. Was it heavy? A little bit, but totally worth it. We had dry dusty conditions at times and also rain, hail and lightning and all my gear had to be able to preform flawlessly in these less than ideal conditions.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM lens on Canon 1DX. Finding spots where the athletes are in dynamic positions is sometimes tough in a race. Here I found a small rise where I knew racers would stand up giving a better shot.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM lens on Canon 1DX. Using a telephoto pulled in the distant peaks just enough to make them feel big but also set the racer in place.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 400 f/4.5 at 1/640 sec. I had to get low for this shot. That back tire was probably less than a foot away from my camera…yikes!
I choose lenses with numerous variables in mind. Do I want to compress the athlete in the landscape or get an action portrait? Then I choose a telephoto lens. Is the shot next to the car? Then maybe it’s the 120-300mm F2.8 but if it’s a ten mile roundt trip hike then 70-200mm F2.8 is the better choice. For scene setting shots and wild perspective I would pull out the 12-24mm. And for everything in between I would turn to the 24-105mm F4, one of my favorite do-it-all lenses.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 320 f/5 at 1/800 sec. A little off camera flash helps the rider stand out against the stormy background.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 1250 f4.5 at 1/1600 sec. A rider warms his hands after the rain and hail at the aid station bonfire. I love the storytelling aspect of this image
Over the week I threw everything I could at my Sigma kit and in return I got a beautiful, well rounded gallery with images being used globally. Final verdict: the goals of the shoot were met and exceeded with very happy clients, athletes, promoter and photographer!
© 2016 Liam Doran | 150-600mm F5-6.3 lens on Canon 7DMKII. ISO 1000 f/8 at 1/1000 sec. This is a highly compressed image that makes the racers look small in the grandness of the Colorado Rockies. The riders were about 1/8 of a mile away and the far ridge about 3 or 4 miles distant.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS Sports lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 1250 f/3.2 at 1/2000 sec. You know you are in the backcountry when people are backpacking the same area as the race.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS Sports lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 400 f/3.2 1/1000 sec. A rider near treelin powers through the rain and hail on Georgia Pass.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 1250 f4.5 at 1/1250 sec. The 24-105 lens is great for getting quick candids around the finish line.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 35 mm F1.4 DG Art lens. on Canon 1DX. ISO 3200 f/4 at 1/200 sec. Another story telling image showing some of the race after hours.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 1250 f/4.5 at 1/1250 sec. Another telephoto shot pulling in the rocky background and cgiving the “woman vs. nature” look.
© 2016 Liam Doran | 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS Sports lens on Canon 1DX. ISO 100 f/6.3 at 1/100 sec. Handhelp panning shot to show the speed of the racers.