A Mountain Bike Adventure: Malta
The first episode in a series of Mountain Bike Adventures sees world explorer, adventurer and mountain biker Manu Bustelo head to the islands of Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean to ride the trails, explore the landscape and experience the culture. The trip is shaped by the people he meets on the islands.
I’ve not posted much this last month, mainly due to planning a couple of adventures kicking off over the summer.
Not only am I going to look the part in all of this colourful kit that has just landed but I’ll be featuring work from both companies in some of the exciting projects that start to roll soon.
I’m about to start work on a project with the wonderful Sidetracked Magazine, more details to follow soon…
But first up, an amazing trip to Malta with my good friend and adventurer Manuel Bustelo. Be sure to follow the instagram feeds @cmjdavies and @manubustelo for some exclusives from the trip.
30 Days of Biking
I won’t lie, this has been tough. Not just the riding, but planning an image every day, setting it up, editing it but hey, it’s the career I’ve chosen and everytime I ride a bike I remember why.
The outdoors, nature, the revolutions of the pedals, the wheels turning, covering the miles. Birds tweeting, seasons changings, branches swaying in the wind. You experience so much more of nature when you pass through on a bike, even more when you stop and photograph.
It’s simple, ride your bike every day in April. Lots of people seem to be doing it and as I need to really up my fitness ahead of some big trips coming up I thought I’d get in on the action. I’m taking a photo of each ride too, you can keep up with these over on my instagram feed www.instagram.com/cmjdavies
There’s a feature going out in Singletrack Magazine this month which we shot up in the Rhinog Mountains in North Wales over Christmas. You can see it online here: http://singletrackworld.com/2014/02/issue-87-sneak-peek/
Here’s how we did it….
Whilst I know we make it look like a few of us head out, ride our bikes and take some pictures there’s actually quite a bit of prep that goes on before we hit the trails. I chat with the Editor and Art Editor so we know what style of shots we need and really important for me is to agree a shot list. I speak with the riders and talk through the magazine’s requirements and ensure things like bikes, clothing and equipment are befitting of the article being written.
The night before it’s time to get all the kit ready. For a shoot like this I’m prepping three cameras (although I only carried the 5D3 and the little Fuji x100s on this one), a selection of lenses (I think I took a 24-70, 70-200 and 50mm), batteries, cards, remotes and a small tripod. With the weather being very changeable everything is in weatherproof bags.
As this is a riding shoot, meaning I need to do the whole route on a bike too, I also need to consider myself so packing as light as I can get away with means I leave out things like flash and some of the other lenses I’d normally carry. I also need to leave a bit of room for some butties and a flask!
It’s an early start, 6:00 leave from home to get up to Wales and meet the riders for a quick briefing before we head out. I’ve worked with Tom before but Greg is new to me so I like to have a quick chat so we know how to work with each other. We go over the shot list and agree how we are going to do things. For me it’s important that everyone has fun and we don’t become slaves to the photography - these guys have travelled a long way to do this ride - but we do have a job to get done.
We load up and head off. I sit behind the riders to begin with, looking around for the backgrounds we need. The start of this ride gains quite a lot of height so we didn’t want to be stopping too often. We grab a few frames to show the changing terrain and move on to find the bridge that the route is named after - Pont Scethin. It’s crucial to get some good images here, from plenty of angles so we take our time. The clouds roll in and out giving us some awesome lighting.
There’s a lot of pushing on this route too!
As it’s a pretty cold day I try and minimise stops and keep the athletes moving. There’s always a few times you need to ask them to ride a section ‘one more time’ so you need to keep them as happy as you can!
It’s probably a good time to mention personal organisation too. Having your kit organised well in your bag means you know where stuff is when you need it. That way you change lenses quickly, keep them nice and clean and lessen the risk on damaging anything. The quicker you can be with your kit, the quicker you can move on to the next shot.
Lunch can often be on the top of the hill where it’s drizzling and blowing a gale but it’s a good time to check through everything - including progress against the shot list.
The afternoon on this ride had most of the singletrack we had come for. To get the shots of the guys really smashing it I go on ahead with the only instruction being ”give me five minutes”… enough time to find a location, get my bike out of the way, set up the camera and shoot.
I’m really pleased with what we got. It was a freezing cold day and although the route was short it was pretty tough. The light was crazy with rich egg yolky yellows colours coming from the low sun with intermittent ghostly cloud blowing through. The scenery seemed always to be in front of us which was a challenge as I’m not a fan of bum-shots but by moving around, looking for different angles we managed to fulfil the brief.
Check out the feature online or on the Singletrack Mag App although to really appreciate the pictures I’m a huge fan of the print mag… available in all good shops!
We shot this cover near to Malvern only about 30ks from where I live. Whilst it was great to get a cover shot in my beautiful home county of Worcestershire, the two ladies, Amy and Rachel, are from the Worcester Breeze Network a local ladies only cycling group.
We lucked out with the weather, it stayed dry but was terribly cold so it was a shoot where we all had to keep moving. It was a shoot where we broke the rules too. The original brief called for a single rider, centrally positioned. Of course we did these but I always like to throw in a few extras for the art editor and I’m really pleased they chose this one.
For the camera nerds: the setup used a couple of stobes either side of the riders, just to separate them from the background a little. Not too much to appear obvious though.
Huge thanks to the editor Lara who took care of the riders, bikes and clothing.
Mike Summers and I pulled together a little piece on this weekend’s #MTBMeetup and it’s going out right now over on SingletrackWorld, Check it…
I like to refresh my snowy images as early as I can in the season so I flew out to Innsbruck just before Christmas. I drove up to the tiny village of Galtuer, one of the highest in the Austrian Tyrol and spent a week shooting the beautiful landscapes day and night. The skiing was pretty good too!
See the full-res image here:
I know it’s a strange post for a photographer but in the ten years before going pro I was a Crime Analyst with West Mercia Police. I have a Masters Degree in Crime Science from the Jill Dando Institute at University College London.
In my capacity as a bike enthusiast with experience of Policing I was asked to speak on the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Breakfast Radio show in response to some data they had which showed the Police recover very few bikes of the many thousand that are stolen each year.
The question was put to me; who is to blame? You can hear the interview here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jjzt8 forward to about 2:38.
I thought I’d expand on a couple of the points. You see, studying Crime Science taught me a recipe for crime which goes beyond just seeking out the offender. For a crime to take place, as well as a motivated offender you need an attractive target and lack of guardianship. Knowing this helps you design a prevention strategy.
Sure you can try and catch the offenders but with only one in five thefts actually reported and such a low conviction rate this arrest-strategy for crime reduction will never be effective. More successful will be to look at changes to the “attractive target” and the places which lack suitable guardianship.
Place managers can improve facilities for cyclists. I mentioned a cafe in London (Look mum no hands) which provides bike locks. This is a great initiative, not only does it increase business but it means cyclists don’t have to worry about carrying heavy locks and they can enjoy their coffee knowing their bike is safe. If only Tesco had thought about this when they chucked me out of their store for going in with my bike because there wasn’t anywhere I was happy to leave it outside.
Despite the claims by the Bike Association, manufacturers could do more. RFID chips might not help with bikes that get broken down but they would make identification and ownership quicker to find out.
I don’t think it’s helpful looking to lay blame. As I said on air, if we dealt with plane or train crashes in this way - looking to work out whose fault it was instead of investigating whether situational changes could be made - then we would still have pretty high death rates from crashes wouldn’t we? There is something fundamentally wrong in policing is we only think about crime in terms of offenders and not the wider situation, or why the crime occurs.
The way forward involves everyone taking a role. I suggest a few ideas:
- Lock bikes up but do it better. Lock them even inside garages. Encourage place owners to provide facilities for cyclists. I saw coffee shops in Melbourne where customers hung their bikes in the windows like art.
- Look at technology to make bikes harder to steal. RFID or built in locks.
- Encourage better reporting. Police Crime Analysts can get a better picture of the problem and can target resources more efficiently.
- Everybody needs to report suspicious activity. If people want to stay anonymous then use Crimestoppers.
- Don’t buy stolen bikes or parts. If there is no market then there is no point stealing.
- Reduce flyparking (locking of bikes in unauthorised places). Building better bike storage and locking facilites in areas of high flyparking.
- Set Traps. This is the bit the police need to do more of. Make it more risky for offenders.
If you’d like to know more then I here are a few sites that might be of interest:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/jdi - tell them Chris sent you!
If you’re a place manager or a bike manufacturer who’d like to discuss anything I’ve written about above then please get in touch using the contact form on my website.
I’ll get back to the photos now :)