It wasn`t long after the juniors` awards ceremony, when the 4X riders started to practice. The average grade is over 25% which promised high speed, big jumps and some collisions, of course.
I started at the lower part of the course, in a 180 degree turn. I got the shot I was looking for almost exactly, but I wanted more.
I figured that if I waited a little longer, it gets darker and a fill flash might spice things up a bit. I positioned the flash by the end of the turn, filling the outer edge of the racers. After a few shots these turned out pretty well, as well.
Having made these shots for almost 30 minutes, I got bored and went just a little bit further down the track. I placed the flash after a jump and I was trying to catch the pre-landing moments. It turned out pretty well quite soon, but within a few minutes, I realized that I`d made a huge mistake: didn`t pack a second battery for my 1D, I left it in the car. I didn`t expect the operating one to die but the first rule of the apt sports photographer is that NEVER EVER assume that your batteries would hold out as long as you`d need them to hold out. So I put the long lens onto the 5D which had enough juice in it but the autofocus wasn`t working as well as it would have on the 1D. It resulted in a lot of out-of-focus pictures, which can be really annoying.
A little later, I went even further down and found a nice spot. I put the flash on the right side of the camera, about 15 feet away. As the natural light was slowly slipping away, I started to see the pictures I had had in my mind. They were about to start the semi-finals but then brought a dilemma: should I stay for the rest of races and I`d have good pictures for sure or should I try to find a new spot, should I look for a new angle for the last few runs?
I decided to give it a shot – and it didn`t work out. During the last two runs I was trying to “get it” but I just couldn`t. Either I was lame or the angle wasn`t a good one, to start with, but I didn`t manage to come away with one decent shot of the last three (final) runs. This shot is ok-ish at best, though I like the beam of light on Dan Atherthon`s head.
By the time everything finished, it got pitch dark AND very cold, though a spectacular fireworks made our way back to the press center a tad more bearable.