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. 

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Redass Downhill: Lithgow

The state finals of the NSW Redass Downhill was held a couple of weeks ago out on the Pony Club trail at Lithgow. It was a big weekend for me as it was on the back of a corporate race that we shoot called The Great Adventure Challenge in the Royal National Park. 

Whilst the rain held off for the Great Adventure Challenge it greeted us as we drove across the mountains on the way out to Lithgow. All things considered though the rain was very welcome as it’s been months since we have seen any around Sydney way and to be honest it was more like a drizzle the any serious rain. Thankfully this type of rain doesn’t really affect but it does offer a great atmosphere in which to shoot. I love shooting in this type of weather.

Most prosumer/professional cameras are perfectly weather-sealed and have no trouble being out in rain like this. The main thing to watch out for is getting raindrops on the lens as these will distort the picture. The use of a lens hood and remembering to keep the lens pointed down usually take care of this problem. If not a quick dab with a  lens cloth sorts it out. There are numerous ways to protect your camera if the weather get worse. I always have one of these OP/Tech rainsleeves in my bag just in case. Very simple to use and will still let me use flashes or triggers mounted on my camera. Otherwise, in a pinch most plastic bags will offer some amount of protection so as to be able to get the job done. 

To see the full gallery of images swing over to the OuterImage website here and check them out

 

Hunter Valley Balloon Festival

  A couple of weeks I was up at Dungog shooting the final round of the Fox Superflow series. Nearby in the Hunter Valley was the annual Balloon Aloft Balloon Festival. I had been eyeing this up for a couple of years but had missed it previously due to other commitments. This year, being only an hour away I was determined to get there.

  The ballooners meet in one of the vineyards early in the morning to determine the location of the takeoff. This is decided on the morning to ensure the weather is optimal and they know exactly which way the wind is blowing. They then head out to the chosen field where around 30 balloons start inflating. The organisers are fantastic about letting people wander around and enjoy the sights.

  It’s a fantastic sight that could only be topped by a flight in one of the balloons . Perhaps next year I might have to make that happen. If you are in the area next year I highly recommend you swing by and take a look. It’s guaranteed to put an early morning smile on your face

SF Super Series

There are some things that are definitely worth throwing your support behind, SF Super Series is one of those things. It’s actually a collection of challenges  

There’s some great events held in some fantastic locations. There’s the Surf Coast Century, a 100km trail run held on the Surf Coast in Victoria for the, Gears and Beers in Wagga which ties a 130km bike ride in with the local craft beer and cider festival , Big Feet, Little Feet which will see you walking across a car-free Sydney Harbour Bridge and of course the Endure 24, the 24hr crossfit event held locally at Crossfit Manly Vale. Their are plans afoot to try and get more events on board as well..

 Each event aims to raise money to help the Sanfillipo Children’s Foundation in the fight against Sanfillipo syndrome.Sanfillipo is a genetic disorder which is rare and sadly fatal. Children affected with it have a life expectancy of between 12 and 20 years. Although there is no signs in the early years of childhood an enzyme deficiency prevents the body from going through its normal recycling process, causing cellular malfunction.

If you want to get involved swing over to either the SF Super series website here and sign up for one of the events or go to the Sanfillipo Childrens Foundation website here and throw your support to them directly.

 

Coastal Classic Trail Run

Once again it was time for one of the trail runners favourite races, the Coastal Classic. It’s one of Sydney’s highest rated trail runs, taking runners along a beautiful stretch of coastline going through the Royal National Park. Being in a national park though the organisers, Maximum Adventure, cap the number of competitors and so it can be hard to get an entry as they sell out so quickly. The Coastal Classic completes the Thermatech Triple Challenge series which included the Jabulani in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Raffertys Coastal Run at Lake Macquarie on the NSW Central Coast.

Although the Coastal Classic may not be the longest of races it certainly presents a good challenge to those who take it on. The trail takes runners up and down the park’s headlands and onto the numerous sandy beaches along the coast of the Royal National Park . Unlike last year at this time, when there was torrential rain forcing the postponement of the race, we had a beautiful spring day, chilly in the morning but warming up nicely as the day progressed. Out on course I set 5 photographers, myself included, positioned to capture the beautiful coastal scenics and the runners enjoying the trails. There was around 1000 runners on course from all different skill levels, some there to run fast and put in the best time they can while others were taking their time and enjoy the day out.

The Triple Challenge has been a great series to cover. Next up for us in the trail running category will be the Bouddi challenge in October. A new race on the running circuit running through the Bouddi National Park on the Central Coast.

You can find the full gallery of Coastal Classic images here If you want to see the images from the other races of the triple challenge you can find the Jabulani images here and Raffertys Coastal Run images here