Photo Shoot: 2012 King/Queen of the Mountain Hill Climb

I use the term ‘photo shoot’ pretty loosely here.  I am working hard at improving my photography skills, and like to compile a blog post whenever I shoot a bunch of photos of a particular subject, work with a new technique, or try to deal with challenging conditions.  I’ll typically include a little self-critique on the photos to help me spot errors and things that I could do better the next time.  I am also using these posts to document memorable experiences, interesting places or events, and life in general.

Hopefully I will be able to look back on the pictures in a few years and notice some good progress in my abilities.

I set off after work on Friday for a little photo-adventure.  My good friend was racing his bike in a time trial up Lookout mountain, and I wanted to get some pics of the action.  In much the same way a golfer goes to the driving range to practice, I look at stuff like this as an opportunity to work on my photography skills and hopefully improve on them a bit.  I learn a ton each time I do it  – it’s amazing how tough it can be sometimes to get the exposure and focus just right, let alone come up with a good composition.

The great thing about the event being a time trial format, is that I would have plenty of chances to practice as the riders were starting at 30 second intervals.  Much better than a big pack flying by in the blink of an eye.

I have climbed this mountain many times in the past, so I knew it well.  It was still hard to come up with a good spot to shoot from.  I looked for an area where I could see the riders coming from a distance so I could have some advance warning.  I also wanted to be able to shoot after they had ridden by, so I positioned myself a little bit below a switchback – that way I could still get some side shots as the riders went around the corner.

I set up next to a group of high school kids that had come out to watch.  They kept me pretty entertained!

They drew chalk body outlines on the road. Only they didn’t have any chalk, so improvised with a rock…


A doe and two fawns walked by on the slope below, and I caught this one just right.


Now it was time to set up for some shots of the racers. The evening was very overcast, but the light ended up being ok. I really like the composition of this one, but probably should have let the rider get a bit closer.


Couldn’t resist this shot of a vintage motocycle with sidecar after it passed.


More clowning around. Those kids made me feel really old and young again all at the same time.


Speaking of kids, I couldn’t believe how young some of the racers were! This girl had great form and was moving up the mountain really well.


By far my favorite composition of the night. Caught my friend just right. Love how the trees frame the road, and how the road twists in the background.


Tim moving well as usual. He favors a very efficient seated style with a high cadence, so of course I shouted at him to stand up and pedal like a man. Or something like that.


I had all of my new friends primed and ready to scream his name and generally go crazy as he rode by.


One was even into doing backflips off the guardrail!


It’s hard to outrun a pack of crazy teenagers when you have already been climbing a mountain for 4 miles. You just have to grin and bear it!


I had a fantastic time at the race! The location and vibe could not have been any better, and I’m really pleased with the photos I was able to get.  See the entire set here.

Posted on August 27, 2012, in photography. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great stuff. Last week was a fantastic week for CO cycling all around, eh?

    Last week I saw a few families with kids mountain biking up the Pass Trail north of Durango off 550, which ain’t for slouches. Those grade-school kids probably had better better bike handling skills that I do, and for all I know mom and dad were pros. Looking at tomorrow’s champs?

    • Definitely a great week for CO cycling. I was bummed to miss out on the Pro Cycling Challenge, but this little outing made up for it in a good way.

      I’m blown away by the skills of some kids.

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