OCR World Championships

Last weekend was the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Enduro Championships or more commonly known as the OCR World Championships. Competitors ran the 10km course with 30 obstacles in it and tried to knock over as many laps as they could in a 24 hour period.  This year I was chasing Shammes AlShamsi, the only entrant from the United Arab Emirates around the course.

OCR World Championships course map
OCR World Championships course map

The Race

This has to be the toughest and most brutal race that pops up on my calendar. Whilst I think that the people who do 24mtb races and 24hr trail runs are crazy I believe (and please correct me if I am wrong) that these competitors can find a rhythm and lock into it. Obstacle course racers have to break that rhythm every 40m or so to complete a different obstacle. They do a huge variety of obstacles such as rope climbs, crawling in the mud under barbed wire, scaling walls and rope traverses across the creek.

Chasing one competitor around the course is a little bit awkward as the course is so spread out. I found the best place was around the start finish area where the greatest amount of obstacles were found making it easy to jump between one  and another. I didn’t manage to get all the obstacles I still managed to get a good selection of shots with Shammes and and managed to grab a few other folks as I was waiting for Shammes to get back around to me.

Night

This has to be one of my favourite events as I simply love shooting at night. As night fell so too did the rain and fog. Both years I have shot it it has been raining and foggy which definitely add to the atmosphere of the event. I know many photographers don’t like these conditions but I love it. To a point that is, eventually heavy rain can wear me down.

Trying to pick out that one competitor in the night though became even trickier as it was almost impossible to tell one competitor from another in the darkness and the headlights shining into my eyes. I basically just ended up shooting most people in the night and hoping one was Shammes. Its always good fun playing around with different lighting setups at night. Hopefully I didn’t blind anyone but no-one complained to me so that’s always a good thing.

Morning

I got up early for another few shots but had to shoot off before the finish due to another booking. In the early hours of the morning Shammmes, like many others, had pulled the pin due to exhaustion. I still managed to grab a few more frames before I shot off though. Being the athlete that Shammes is though he is off to Andorra this weekend for not one but 2 more Spartan Race events.

I certainly hope to be back again next year. Registration for the event has opened already. The level of fitness of these athletes just astounds me and the vibe at the event itself is just great. It is well worth checking out even if racing is not for you

The rest of the images can be viewed here on my website

Details for signing up for next years event can be found here here otherwise just come along, check it out and marvel at the strength of these crazy athletes.

Scott Graham: Mountain Biker

I was at the new Trailshare MTB trails on the weekend to shoot some product and some portfolio shots with Scott Graham. Scott is currently leading the competition in State Downhill series and needed a few shots to pump up his portfolio for his sponsors. We thought we should also tie in a product shoot for Tyres and Soles shooting the new AMS bike strap, a silicon strap designed to hold your tyre repair kit and spare tube on your bike.

Trailshare and its cabins

We also had an exclusive tour around the new bike park on the NSW Central Coast called Trailshare. Chief trail-builder Josh Paul Smith pointed out a few of the features on the black trail for us to session. It’s still a work in progress though it already boasts 27kms of trails of varying degrees of difficulty. We spent the day on the Black run but I am looking forward to seeing the Red trail, very picturesque from all I hear. to top it off it has its own set of cabins tucked away in the bush. The trails start right at the doorstep making it the perfect little weekend getaway for riding.

It’s a great area and I look forward to getting back up there soon and checking out some of the other trails.

If you need some images for a portfolio or some new images to upgrade your profile send me a message and let’s see what we can make happen.

Anja Camera backpack from f-stop gear

I did a review of the Anja pack from f-stop Gear for Tyres and Soles. Like all the f-stop Gear mountain series backpacks it’s the attention to detail that makes it stand out from the crowd.

The New f-stop AJNA Has Your Back, No Matter What!

f-stop has done it again with their AJNA 40l pack. If you consider yourself a serious photographer, then you should seriously check out the AJNA.

f-stop makes great packs. They came out strong about 12 years agp and quickly became a market favourite with their Mountain series and for good reason, they’re toughversatile and comfortable. I have been using F-stop packs for a few years now and I am a big fan.

Mountain series include 5 packs (Lotus 32L, Ajna 40L, Tilopa 50L, Sukha 70L, Shinn 80L), apart from the Mountain series they also have the Ultra Light Series that include: 25L Guru UL, Kashmir 30L and Loka UL 37L.  The Kashmir UL is the pack with shortest torso length. It is suitable for both men and women with some benefits for female shooters such as the slightly curved should straps.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review

The Ajna (orange) fits in around the middle of the range at 40L. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Features

f-stop packs are very water resistant. I’ve had mine in heavy downpours without a rain cover and there was next to no water getting into the pack, and better still, none even got close to my camera gear. However, rain covers are an optional extra and the packs do have a storage pocket and attachment loops for them.

ICU

The internal camera units (ICUs) are a great piece of interchangeable gear. It’s basically the removable guts of the bag that allows you to customise and fit your camera gear safely. I have a couple of ICU’s that hold different kits and I’ll just throw one into the pack depending on my needs. All setup and ready to go.

 Comfort

What really sealed it for me was how comfortable the Ajna felt on my back. My full kit weighs in around 12-14kgs. When I need to spend all day lugging this around, comfort is of the maximum importance to me. f-stop has not only made a pack that can store photography gear, they’ve looked long and hard at what makes a pack comfortable.

The comfort comes from an internal aluminium frame which provides the overall structure and rigidity, maintaining good shape whilst still being lightweight. Combine this with the ergonomically designed hip belt and shoulder straps, which have been injected with a gel-like material, and you get an exceptionally comfortable pack.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review
A rare shot of myself in a photo, I’m usually behind the lens. The f-stop Ajna is incredibly comfortable when fully loaded with camera gear.
F-Stop Anja - Pack Review
A shot of Jason (Chief Editor Tyres and Soles) testing the f-stop Ajna high up in mountains. 

Storage

There’s enough storage in the Ajna to easily store all my camera gear plus food and water for a day on the hill. This is ideal as I’m out on location for long sessions at a time and need to ensure that I have everything with me.

Access to the ICU is via a padded rear panel constructed with heavy gauge catch-free YKK® zippers which opens up to give you full access to the entire ICU unit. Having this rear access means that you can place the pack down on its front, access all your gear and avoid getting mud on the harness straps and your clothing.

The main internal access is from the top zippered panel and is roomy enough for all sorts of gear, clothing etc. There are also easily accessible side pockets with full-length zippers and an expandable design, so you can cinch the pack in or keep filling it out. All zippers are heavy duty wet weather resistant and are remarkably catch free…ah heaven!

There’s also a multipurpose internal sleeve that can fit either a 13” laptop or can be used as a hydration bladder pocket.

The Little Things

The Ajna has more pockets, attachment loops, bungee cords, straps and hooks than you could possibly need on a single trip. The pack has ice axe, avalanche shovel, sleeping bag attachments but I tend to use these to keep my tripods strapped and secure.

And for storing smaller items like passport, wallet, keys and phone, there’s a zippered mesh underside lid pocket. It’s the small details like this that can make a big difference when your travelling interstate or overseas.

f-stop ajna
It’s the little things that make a big difference. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
f-stop ajna
More hooks and loops than you can throw a stick at. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Durability

Unlike many products these days the F-Stop packs are robust. Being none too gentle with my equipment, my bags tend to take a bit of a beating. They get thrown down, dropped on rough surfaces, rained on, tossed on the wet muddy ground and dragged around. To date, I have never had anything get damaged inside my pack aside from managing to squash a banana.

The packs have been designed for use in the mountains and you can see this in all the materials and parts used. The material, zippers and attachment points are all of the highest quality and can withstand years of abuse. I know from personal experience with my other F-Stop packs.

The main fabric is made from a breathable oxford-weave ripstop nylon and AdvantaTM, a thermoplastic polyurethane film giving it high tear resistance. The Ajna also features a Hypalon® reinforced base for extra protection if you drop your bag onto rocky or hard surfaces.

Key Feature List

  • Highly tear resistant, wet weather and breathable fabrics
  • Hydration system with Velcro® sealed tube port
  • 4 Internal ICU attachment points
  • Heavy-duty 3-fold carry handle
  • All-day support provided by an internal aluminium frame
  • Quick-release side compression straps
  • Adjustable sternum strap with an integrated whistle for emergencies
  • Soft Flex injection molded EVA belt and shoulder straps for all-day comfort
  • Water and weather resistance YKK® Aquaguard® zippers
  • Fast and catch-free closures
  • Reinforced base
  • Multipurpose internal and external pocket configurations inc laptop storage.
  • Accessory attachments via 16 GateKeeper mounting points (GateKeepers sold separately)

Specifications

  • Height: 59.7cm | 23.5in
  • Width: 33cm | 13in
  • Depth: 26.7cm | 10.5in
  • Volume: 40 Litres
  • Weight: 1.7kgs | 3.75lbs
  • ICU sold separately

Where To Buy/ Availability

The F-Stop Ajna is available to buy at most good photography stores. Click here to discover the full F-Stop range.

Price: $399 approx

 


If you are into camping, hiking, MTBing etc and wondering about new gear go check out Tyres and Soles because there is a good chance they have reviewed it.

Ryugi Crew

 I had the chance to shoot with some of Sydney’s finest bboys and a bgirl recently, the Ryugi Crew. I had been wanting to organise another dance shoot for a while but things were just getting away from me and personal shoots had to be put on the backburner.

  I chatted with Josh Knox who got in contact with me after i shot with the Cyber Crew. Josh has his finger on the pulse of the Sydney dance scene and got a small crew together for a shoot in the back streets of Sydney. They knew a great graffitied street so we used that as the backdrop.

  I enjoy shooting dance and the dancers are amazing to watch. It’s similar in shooting style to free-runnning in that it is very acrobatic and obviously has deep urban roots. Hoping to expand my dance work more soon and shoot other forms of dance as well. Things are in the pipeline so keep an eye out

 

Kempsey Enduro: Superflow Championships

Last weekend Kempsey played host to the Superflow Enduro Championship.  Rocky Trail Entertainment has been running the Kempsey Enduro for 3 years now. It is one of my favourites as I get to go stay out at the beautiful Hungry Head campsite.

It was another great weekend of racing. Though a slightly smaller turnout there was lots of new faces on track. I even met a couple of fellows who had done the drive down from Queensland for it. Pre-race rain dampened Sunday a bit and brought the hordes of mosquitos out enmass. I often wonder what bloodsucking creatures like this eat when there is no photographer sitting in the bush.

It also means a little bit of exploring new spots on the way home. This year I stopped off Middle Brother on the way home and had a look around the Blackbutt forest. I spent the night at Seal Rocks, camped at Treachery with the dingos. I didn’t get to see them though I did see their paw prints in the sand on the dunes. From there I headed to the Bombah ferry Stopping off to see the tallest tree in NSW, a 76m flooded gum called Giantis. I crossed the ferry and down the coastal road to Tea Gardens and Hawksnest a nice little detour.

The full gallery of race images is up over on the Outer Image website here

Review: Sleeklens Landscape Workflow

 I was asked by Sleeklens to put their landscape workflow to the test and give it a review.  The workflow pack contains 51 presets and 30 brushes, a guide on how to Stack/layer presets and brushes, a guide on how to layer/stack the presets. and instructions on how to install the presets and brushes,  all available for instant download

My first impression upon opening up the workflow was that the example photos they showed were too over-processed for my taste. They have been pushed well into the realms of heavy HDR and over-saturated in some areas which is really not to my taste. That being said the processes and tools that got them to that point are a great set of tools and they don’t necessarily have to be taken that far.

I thought the best way to test it out would be to take one of my photos from the original RAW file through to a finished product using their tools and suggestions. 

Sleeklens review before image
Original RAW capture

I picked this shot from Bright in Victoria. Although I have shots from the same morning that are similar I have never edited this one, which seems a shame as I love the sunburst on the mountains.

I used a total of 6 presets, Deep Blue Skies, Add Contrast, Brighten Shadows, Add Clarity, Warm It Up and Subtle Black to get it close to what I was after. Then 1 of their brushes for finer adjustments and finished off with just a little tweeking of the settings to adjust things a bit more to my taste. The whole process was very quick. I could certainly keep tweaking and going into the finer details.

Sleeklens review after image
Final Image: Sunrise in Bright

 All in all its a great package stuffed with a fantastic collection of stackable brushes and tools, Presets are always a handy time-saving tool to have in your bag of tricks. They are a tool that I don’t utilise nearly enough though especially considering the mass of work that I put out with OuterImage

 I think like most of your tools you need to be familiar with what each one does and how it affects the final image. I intend to dive further into these so I know what each one does. Before looking through this workflow I never thought about setting brushes as presets. If you use Lightroom in your photo editing and are looking for a way to speed up your processing or even just a way to get some new ideas on what direction to take a photo then these are well worth having a look at.

You can find everything here on the Sleeklens Website