Illuminate with Chris Smith

As we pulled into the lay-by outside the quarry we had picked as our location, the temperature slipped below zero, the sun was making its steady descent behind the trees and we knew we had a perishing night ahead of us. But we were with Chris Smith, a seasoned professional Mountain Biker from the west country, Chris pulls it out the bag no matter what the conditions. We knew we were in for a treat.

Our plan was to get some really interesting night time photography with Chris riding his Mountain Bike. This was made possible by the large selection of bike lights he had been given by his sponsors. Now we’re not talking about any old ‘tea light in a jam jar’, these collection of lights are worth over £1000 in all and even the smaller ones give out about as much illumination as your average car light. This made it possible for Chris to turn what was in front of him from night, to day. Enabling him to ride some incredible size jumps, drops and trails at night in a way that no one would dare in the day.

We used a really interesting technique whilst shooting these photos. To create the bright white drawn out lines of light from Chris we needed a long exposure, but if we only used long exposure we wouldn’t be able to see Chris at all as he also, would be a long blur. To overcome this problem we used a hand held, hand fired flash, along with 3 or 4 extra remote fired flashes to illuminate the surroundings. Fin pressed the shutter whilst Chris dropped in, then, at the perfect moment, Jack would have to fire the hand held flash to capture Chris whilst he was in the air or railing the corner, it meant a lot team work and hard work went into getting each shot absolutely perfect. Especially when our fingers were frozen to the kit and our jaws were chattering louder than an 1800’s railway line.

This was also the first project we worked with Josh, He was using the spare bike lights to get some filming done, you can catch the short edit he put together from the night as a part of this. It was a real challenge filming in the dead of night in the mid winter freeze. Shutters were slowing right down, batteries ran out of battery in a matter of minutes and finding any sort of focus point in the freezing mist was close to impossible, it was a great way of working out how he dealt with these challenges and impressive to see how well he dealt with each challenge and still came out with a great little edit.