Sunday, August 10, 2008

Steve Means - 2008 Black Bear Mountain Bike Race @ Kanawha State Forest
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

The annual Black Bear mountain bike race at Kanawha State Forest is typically one of the biggest bike races each year in this part of the state. Naturally, with our strapped economy and rising fuel costs, the field was a bit smaller than in years past, but several riders showed up to ride one of the toughest bike races in the state.

Kanawha State Forest has more single track in it that most other state forests in West Virginia combined, making it a very technical course with lots and lots of roots and rocks.

A true die-hard for the event is my brother Steve, who's never missed a start since the race began over two decades ago. I haven't raced it in several years, but always make it a point to go shoot some pics since it's right in our back yard.

Most other photographers that go to the Bear typically pick one of a handful of locations that have good lighting for shots - or they'll pick one of several locations that is sure to produce a rider doing a face plant. Regardless, I've always been a sucker for pan blur shots, and try to find that perfect pan blur amongst the dimly lit single track, alone and isolated from the masses. There, I can concentrate a bit better on the job at hand, and usually catch the riders in a more natural and focused state.

In years past I used only a single on-camera flash, with marginal results. To get anything that even vaguely resembles a good shot, you've got to use lots of fill light, which can often look really fake, and produce lots of hard shadows. So, to mitigate this, the last few races that I've done I've used a second slave flash on the other side of the trail, ranging from about half to one quarter power of my on-camera unit. This way, I can cast a bit more light on the subject, and well as achieve a slightly more desirable image and wash out a lot of the hard shadows.

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