So this time last year I was on holiday in America. In fact it was the first time that I had visited the USA. I spent a week with my brother in Washington DC and then another week visiting Philadelphia, New York and Boston. I'm not a big fan of big cities, but they weren't as bad as I thought they'd be.
It turns out that I took quite a few photos, had a quick look at them when I got home and then forgot about them, until now. So here they are.
Championnats de France
At the end of July, Morzine hosted what was probably it's first race in nearly 20 years. Not since the days of the Avalanche Cup has the Pleney seen so many pro and amateur riders alike, racing to beat the clock. It would have been rude to not go and have a look, so i took the camera with me.
Practice was dry and conditions were great, with the Pleney serving up it's usual dose of fresh loam, rooty off cambers and steeps galore. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse on finals day, and the rain turned the track into a veritable slip'n'slide.
Here are some cliches for your viewing pleasure.
Looking back through holiday photos from Portugal, a long time after the holiday is over, and a couple of photos caught my eye. I hadn't originally edited all of the photos (just a few for instagram), and must have thought "I'll do them another time". Well. 5 months later I finally got around to it!
These two are from the famous Nazaré. Home of arguably Europes and the worlds biggest surf-able wave. On this particular day, the waves weren't gigantic, but still big enough to warrant being towed in by jet-ski. There are no-one on these waves, but you get the idea of the size and the force of the the tons of water swirling around.
Admittedly, it's not often that I get over to Les Gets in the winter. Recently, it was some work with Morgan Jupe that got me travelling the whole 10km to get there, and this photo made it worthwhile.
I really should get over there more often.
Is what a lot of people say. But i'm not like other people so i'll just keep on keeping on. Here is my last photo of 2017 and the first of 2018. The view from the office that never gets boring, at least for me anyway.
Happy new year to one and all.
Skate from above
Our friend has a diy concrete mini-ramp in his back garden. Lucky guy. It's still one of my dreams, if I ever own a house with enough land. I've shot a few frames with one of my film cameras and not really liked any of the angles I could find. The other day we headed up for a session and I took my 5d with the trusty 50mm lens. I was looking around for angles and spotted the upstairs bedroom window. I'm super stoked with the shot.
Tommy Bowers - BSTS
I finally got around to sending off a few rolls of colour film for development (I currently only have the capability to develop black and white film at home). It's always a pleasure getting them back and seeing what I shot. Some I remember taking, others not. It's one of the positive points about film. The anticipation to see if a particular shot came out, the excitement of finding a great shot, the memories that come flooding back.
The first 4 shots here were from a holiday to the Basque Country at the beginning of May and the last from a walk in the mountains here at home. The two double exposures are actually happy mistakes. I have a small problem with the shutter on my camera which means that I often end up taking multiple shots. I'm not sure if the shutter fires first time so it involves a bit of guess work.
No riding for me
I've not shot any mtb photos since the start of the season, down at the World Cup in Lourdes. And I've not shot any here at home for a long time. So hurting my arm the other day gave me the motivation to grab my camera and get some shots of my friends that were here on holiday.
They were doing laps on the Pleney, so we met on one of the nice loamy and steep sections of a secret track. It was also just a short walk from the bottom of the hill (lucky for me!). I was shooting with my 5d, which isn't too great in low light, or with fast moving subjects. However, I just love the images it produces.
Are a luxury chalet company based in Morzine in the Portes du Soleil. It's run by Josh and Jess, an experienced and knowledgeable couple who can deliver a holiday to remember. They have a fantastic service on offer, which can be confirmed by the reviews on their site.
I'm lucky enough to have them as my newest client. I've been tasked to shoot interiors and exteriors of the fantastic chalets that they have on offer. The project isn't finished yet, but here are some sample shots.
If you are looking for an unforgettable ski or summer holiday in the French alps, look no further.
It's all downhill from here
On my way to the west coast I stopped off at the first round of the 2017 UCI DH World Cup in Lourdes. What a way to kick off the season. The French fans really know how to create a great racing atmosphere. Horns, whistles, chainsaws, broken bike parts. You name it, they can make a loud noise with it! If you haven't experienced it, you should go at least once. They support all the riders, but obviously even more so the Frenchies. And they were especially happy that one of their compatriotes won on the day. The last 20 down were unlucky to have the heavens open up and turn the dry course into a slippy one.
It's only the third world cup i've been to, and it's actually a good opportunity to see some of my friends who work as mechanics for some of the big teams. Here are some of the shots I got of the finals day.
It's always great to get away on holiday, and great to go somewhere different. This time, I went to new and old places around the Basque Country.
My journey started off with a detour in the middle of France in the Limousin region. More specifically to the Lac de Vassiviere where there is an island with a whole host of art sculptures, including a skate-able sculpture. The was the main reason for my visit. If you are looking for peace, quiet, sunshine and a bit of culture, it's a great place to go. I stayed at one of the local municipal campsites which was well equipped and there are plenty of things to do around the area too.
The second detour of the route was to the first round of the UCI DH MTB World Cup in Lourdes, a place more famous for it's churches and holy history than it's mountain biking. I'll put some photo up from this in a separate post shortly so have a look for that.
I then continued my journey into Spain and the heart of the Basque Country. My first night was spent at Laga, just next to Mundaka, a world famous surf spot and the local large town of Gernika-Lumo. There wasn't much surf on, so other campers in the car park were keeping busy by cutting hair, among other things. The next day I had a drive over to Mundaka as there was a local surf competition on. It was great to see this famous wave in action. My next few days were spent between Laga and Sopelana, a bit further towards Bilbao in the west. Skating, surfing and photo taking. More of the former than the latter, so I don't have many shots but i'm happy with what i've got. I have some on film too, so I'll have to wait a bit until those are developed.
The journey home took me up through the French Basque Country, St. Jean de Luz, Bidart and Bayonne and then on to Cap Breton, Messanges and Mimizan.
Fantastic weather and scenery.
My Bronica ETRS is second hand (maybe even more, i'm not sure) and it's a quality, if not a bit heavy, piece of kit. That's the good thing about old cameras. There are simple, well made, built to last, trustworthy......well not all the time. I had noticed on some of my negatives in the past that some shots never came out. At first I put it down to human error, wrong settings or an oversight on my part.
Until that is, I processed my last roll of exposed film. And discovered that I only had one shot come out. It turns out the aperture blades, which are housed in the lens, sometimes have a problem of not opening. So I had a roll of 15 "amazing" photos that i was really excited to develop again at home. Only to find that I actually only had one.
I guess that's one of the risks of film photography. Those photos that didn't come out now only exist in my head. Probably never to be reproduced again.
Here is the one that survived.
I developed my first roll of black and white film with the help of a friend. At first, it seems quite a daunting prospect. What if i accidentally get light on it? What if I use the chemicals in the wrong order? What if, what if. But actually, it's really rather simple. It takes a bit of patience (to get the film onto the spool) and some good organisation.
And the result? It's rather rewarding, and great to see if your shots have come out or not.
We decided to stay overnight in the refuge de Bostan-Tornay. We drove to the end of the Vallee de la Manche, then splitboarded up and over the Col de la Golese, arriving at sunset. The refuge is very basic, with some bunks and a light and not much else. Add a couple of friends, sleeping bags, a stove and some food and you have all you need.
The next day, we carried on up the valley between the Tete de Boston and the Dents D'Oddaz in the direction of the Col de Bossetan. We didn't quite make it to the Col, as on the way we spotted an inviting couloir with some fresh snow. A short time later we were at the top, looking down the Golette de L'Oule and towards Mont Blanc, with a bearded vulture flying overhead. The silence of the mountain was calming. Away from the crowds of half term and in the middle of nowhere, yet only a short distance from home.
The turns on the way back down were well worth the 6 odd hours of combined hiking over the two days.
I went up the mountain yesterday to get some shots in the pipe. There weren't many people there so not a lot to shoot. Here are a couple of quick portraits and a throwaway trick shot. It's always good to keep shooting though.
I can't get away from my fascination with trees, clouds and mountains.
A home from home. I could spend all day in here. This was a shot Sheriff wanted and I got after 3 tries. Admittedly, he is a little bit blurry and I should shoot it again with a quickeur shutter speed, but he was happy and i am too.
We are deep into mid winter. It's cold, cloudy and snowy and conditions are all time. We've had endless days of powder, and the kids here for half term are complaining about being cold and wet.
If only. It's mid February and we've only had one good snowfall since the start of the season. We've been blessed with endless blue skies and spring conditions since the start of the new year.
The new fashion in the snowboard world. And why not. Away from the crowds, getting to the top under your own steam, enjoying fresh powder a week after it's snowed. And nature.
It's that time of year again. The air is cold, the ground is cold, it's been snowing lots and not a lot. It's been sunny and warm, cold and warm, rainy, dry and everything in-between. I've also moved house and so have a new view to look at and shoot. Here it is.
I recently finished shooting another chalet for Shep&Kyles. This is one of my favourite shots from the shoot. To see more, you'll have to follow them on Instagram.
A Wet Walk In The Woods
One of the benefits of living here, is taking a few steps out of your door and having direct access to all of this.
Leaves and light. My favourite time of the year.