When we commission photographers to produce the images to use in our magazine features we typically expect to receive anything up to 50 images from them. This large selection then gets filtered down to a final collection of maybe 12 or so to be laid out in the feature alongside the text. This is a process done in house and away from the eyes of the person behind the lens. The selection criteria is guided by the text, which may or may not be also produced by the photographer, and often the physical constraints of the design and the number of pages assigned to the feature. The end result is often a situation where the photographer will be convinced we’ve laid out the wrong images at the wrong size – it is the lot of the humble freelancer that their art is often ignored and those dreadful people driving the desks never pick the best images.
Well, we thought we’d put that injustice right by allowing the photographers themselves to pick out their top 20 images from each published feature and tell us a bit about each image to boot. Here, in the inaugural episode of our new ‘Behind The Lens‘ series we asked James Vincent to pick the correct 20 images from our eBike article from Singletrack Issue 98.
Subscribers can view a higher resolution, full width version of this feature here
About The Photographer
James has been riding bikes all his life, getting his first mountain bike way back in 1994 (a Dawes Off Limits in case you were wondering), and can now be found carrying his bike around the Lake District Fells. He currently rides a Kona Process 153, which has got him into, and then out of trouble, more times than he would care to imagine. Living in Carlisle, James splits his riding between the Lakes and the Borders, with occasional jaunts further afield. He has written for Singletrack & MBR Magazines, and his photos have appeared in Privateer, MBUK, Singletrack, MBR, Cycling Weekly and Cycling Active Magazines.
Singletrack e-Bikes Extra – By James Vincent
E-bikes have been a pretty controversial topic this last year – opinions veer from superstition to outright hatred, with questions being asked about whether or not they’re appropriate in the wild and rugged outdoors. Therefore, the brief from the editorial team was a fun one – images of the glaring incongruity of e-bikes in a completely wild location with no man made objects in sight… No pub just round the corner for a quick recharge if the batteries die, and no easy escape route back to the safety of the car. To make matters worse, it was my first ever shoot for the magazine, so I was equal parts nervous and excited!
Pulling the bikes out of the van, there was a bit of debate as to who was going to ride which bike. Mark was adamant that he was riding the fat bike, which left Chipps and Jenn to discuss the finer points of the controls of the others. Possibly the first time I’ve seen a bike need a full on walk through before we get going.
Chipps and Jenn taking it somewhat easy, while Mark disappears into the distance, doing his best to flatten the battery!
You can ride an e-bike one of two ways. You can take it easy and use the extra power as a boost for when your legs get tired, or you can see just how fast you can motor a 50lb fat bike up a hill. I don’t think this grin left Mark’s face all day.
Rather than picking an ultra wide lens all the time, it can be great to step back from your subject and pull out a longer lens if you want them to appear dwarfed by their surroundings. With only sheep for company, we hardly saw anyone else all day.
When the gradient gets too much, sometimes you have no choice but to get off and push. And when that happens, the motor and battery are of no use to you whatsoever. It was at this point that I was pretty glad to be on my old fashioned, human powered Yeti. As much fun as an e-bike is, I won’t be rushing out to ride one in the Lakes in a hurry. I nearly put my back out trying to lift one on the shoot!
On reaching one of the summits I tried to get a (relatively) serious posed shot of the guys, but I think Mark was too busy having fun to take anything too seriously. After all, he’d just smashed into the top 10 on a monster of a climb, merely seconds off a KOM.
A fast shutter speed to freeze the water, of what is possibly the biggest bow wave I’ve ever seen given off by a bike! Frankly, it would have been irresponsible of us to ignore this puddle.
Just as the descent steepened, we came across these ruts, large enough to swallow a bike. Chipps duly obliged and it gave us one of my favourite shots of the shoot. When in doubt, for action, get wide and go low!
Speaking of low, the ruts were large enough for me to lie in, getting a usually unobtainable vantage point and shooting up at the e-bikes, giving a great viewpoint of the batteries and motors. A smaller aperture helps to keep things in focus as the bikes were literally on top of me.
The day before this shoot, I bought a fish eye lens, yet I chose not to bring it with me because I thought it didn’t fit in with the Singletrack aesthetic. Looking up at the riders coming towards me, I was kicking myself for not bringing it – note to self – if you have room in your bag for something, chuck it in.
We were sat, waiting for a break in the clouds, when this burst of light appeared. I shouted ‘ride!’ to no one in particular, and there was a scramble to get on the bikes. Chipps won. I think Mark had a face full of cake at the time.
Because we were all slightly unsure how long the bikes batteries would last, we decided to return the way we had come (rather than do a full loop), so some time was spent sessioning the trail in between banks of cloud to get a good selection of images.
It was Jenn who first contacted me about the shoot (my first for the mag) – I’m so proud to be taking photos for a magazine I’ve been reading for years, and I owe her a heck of a lot! Thank you Jenn!
I really like this image – I’m a sucker for any picture where you can follow the trail across the frame. The light is pretty cool too – a big bank of cloud behind the riders means that sky isn’t blown out and gives some lovely highlights to Chipps’ shoulders.
Climbing back up, we took great delight in discovering what was rideable with motor assistance! Climbs that would have had you off and pushing, were all of a sudden cleanable with seemingly limitless traction…
…although anyone who says that riding an e-bike is easy, obviously isn’t trying hard enough.
These rolling hills were a pain – I’d cruise down them comfortably keeping up with the others, yet as we hit each gentle rise, they’d come barreling past me, sort of apologising, but loving it at the same time, their laughter accompanied with the whir of an electric motor.
Ah yes, that corner. I remember it well. No doubt some hilarious wag will insert a link to a video here. Thanks.
[Why merely link when we can embed? You’re welcome – Ed]
[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/singletrackmag/videos/10153449806138612/” width=”650″ height=”400″ onlyvideo=”0″]
E bikes are a photographer’s dream – no more complaining from riders to go and ride sections ‘just one more time’ – at first I felt guilty asking Mark, but quickly realised that he was loving it, and stopped worrying – it was almost as though he had some kind of motor helping him out.
Long lens, large aperture, low ISO (praise be to the sun god). All fairly standard stuff. But I chose this image for the reaction it got when I posted it on Instagram “I think I was a little bit sick in my mouth”, “what the hell!!??”, “f**k sake, they have made one”, “I’d have to bleach myself afterwards” etc etc. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – they are so much more fun than you might think. Just don’t try and carry it anywhere!
James’ Kit List
- Body: Nikon d7100
- Lens: Tokina 11-16 f/2.8
- Lens: Sigma 18-50 f/2.8
- Lens: Sigma 50-150 f/2.8
All held in a Lowepro photosport 200aw
On his kit choice:
I learned the ins and outs of photography on my dad’s old Nikon FM2 (which is on permanent loan), so there were a few Nikon lenses kicking around when I went to get my first DSLR, hence why I shoot Nikon over Canon. I currently use a D7100, but I’ve got serious lust for a D500 – if anyone from Nikon is reading this and needs a UK tester… As for lenses, the Tokina 11-16 is super sharp, fast and wide, and the Sigma 50-150 is a crop sensor equivalent of the venerable 70-200 format, yet is nearly half the size and weight. Perfect for big Lake District adventures when weight is an issue. The most recent addition to my bag is a dirt cheap 8mm fisheye, and it’s amazing – it gets way more use than I expected it to. It all gets thrown about in a LowePro Photo Sport 200AW which is ideal for the kind of riding and shooting I do. Not too big, and not too small. In the words of Goldilocks, just right.