THE IMAGE

“EXPEDITION AFRICA, RODRIGUES ISLAND”

Multiday outdoor expedition racing is an intense sporting discipline to shoot. It includes running, riding, paddling, mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and orienteering, which adds a dynamic energy. Add to this remote destinations (such as Rodrigues Island, where this image of Expedition Africa was captured), and you’re guaranteed wall-to-wall action unfolding in front of your lens.

THE TECHNIQUE

“Sleep monsters” are what you want to capture while shooting an adventure race. These mythical beasts start swarming to the surface of a racer’s subconscious after two or three days of nonstop racing; without any sleep, it’s as if they start crossing over into a transcendental, surreal space.

Thousand-yard stares and hallucinogenic motion come
into play – and when you shoot at night, you can capture this psychedelic flow by using a slow shutter speed. One sure way to retain some sharpness in the image is to use on-camera flash to freeze the motion, as I did with this team on one of the dark- zone legs on the extremely remote Rodrigues Island.

Another part of the technique is to pan with your subject
in order to track the movement. Think of their lights as brushes “painting” luminous lines within your photographic frame, and set your shutter speed to ensure the image is properly exposed. Think how long the subject will take to move across the frame – it could be anything from 1/50th of a second to 30 seconds (if it is extremely low light).

One final tip: underexpose your ambient light by one stop, as this will allow on-camera flash to override darker sections of the photo, and freeze movement there. This helps to ensure that parts of your photo are perfectly sharp, creating a balance between motion and focus.

GETTING THE SHOT

When you’re shooting at night, use a lens that lets in as much light as possible. This specific shot was captured about half an hour before dawn, with the sun just starting to tint the sky deep purple.
Teams were coming in off an ocean boating leg, and had to offload their bikes at the final transition. I used a very low angle to capture the drama, shooting on a 24mm f1.8 lens to maximise light. I metered off the sky and underexposed by one stop, then used light from the flash to fill in the subject and foreground.

TECH SPECS

CAMERA Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless

LENS Sony 24mm f1.8

SHUTTER SPEED 1/20th sec

APERTURE f1.8

LIGHTING Underexposure by 1x stop, fill-in flash

POST PRODUCTION Final post-production done in Adobe Lightroom.

 

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

Welcome to paradise: these words will ring 100% true once you set foot on Rodrigues, a tiny, remote Indian Ocean island 560km east of Mauritius. This autonomous republic – just 18km long by 8km wide – epitomises a laid-back tropical adventure vibe, with terrain varying from rocky coastal cliffs and emerald-green jungles to hideaway beaches and craggy canyons. tourism-rodrigues.mu

 

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