Jetblack 12hr Mountain bike race, 2016

The Jetblack 12hr Mountain Bike Race

The final mountain bike race for the 2016 Rocky Trail Entertainment XC season was the Jetblack 12 hour. This year it was held at Mowbray farm MTB track near Picton in the southwest of Sydney. It was a couple of years since previously shooting my last XC race there. Though the course was basically the same, weather over the last month or so had altered the terrain around it.

The main change in the features around the course was the missing lake. Heavy rainfall of the previous weeks managed to wash away a dam, draining the lake in the middle of the course. Rain had left the track over-saturated. More rain overnight had also added to the puddles, making some sections of the track more like water crossings. Although the previous night had been another wet one, the new day dawned windy but otherwise the weather was great.

Terrain along the track varies quite a bit. It heads through open fields with some nice views across to the city, crosses and drifts along a small creek that was once the lake and heads off into a young pine forest. The wet weather had closed a couple of sections of the track making the course shorter. However, this just meant faster laps, bringing the riders back in front of our cameras more often.

At 10am a mass start sent mountain bikers racing off into the fields. The harsh light in the open fields below the start line meant shooting there was tricky. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a few clouds came rolling in and softened up the light a bit. I followed the track in the same direction as the riders were headed, stopping when I came across shots that I liked. By mid afternoon I had made it probably halfway around the track. I realised the best locations to shoot the sunset would be in the fields and dams back near the start so I packed up my kit and headed back in that direction.

Nightfall saw me playing with my lights around the lakes and puddles. By using a mix of flashes and dragging the shutter to create long exposures I was able came up with some interesting effects. When water was added to the frame I threw reflections of the riders lights into the mix. I always have trouble balancing the riders lights with my flashes.  The problem is, I end up losing portions of the bikes due to over-exposure caused by the riders lights. Exposing for the riders lights is tricky as no 2 riders seem to have lights of the same brightness. Practice makes perfect though and each time I am out there I seem to get a little bit better. The good thing about 12 hour and 24 hour races is that I get plenty of practice and plenty of chances to get it right.

Below are my picks for the race.