Last weekend me, Snoo and my good friend James went up to (the now local) Alexandra Palace for the first day of the 2012 Red Bull Empire of Dirt* event. James (or Speedie as he’s more commonly known to me) stumbled across it a few weeks ago, and mentioned that he was thinking of coming down to Manchester for it and did we want to go. Seen as it was only up the road for us, and sounded fun we went for it. It was a really fun day with some truly incredible riding from the 30+ riders competing that day.
The course, which ran down the hill from the Palace itself, and apparently took around 4,200 tons for dirt to build, featured a really varied selection of ramps, jumps, quarter pipes and berms to make for very exciting runs. The design of the course was, as you’d expect, very spectator friendly and there were lots of opportunities to get some decent views and photos. We entered the event up near the start of the course and slowly worked our way down the length of the course until we settled on a really great spot on the last corner. From here you got an almost 180° view of the last half of the course, a fairly good view of the big “jumbo-tron” screen at the finish line and with the added bonus of being situated at the top of the final straight which featured three big kickers in a line which many of the riders used to full effect. The bulk of the photos below were taken along this last stretch of the course…
The weather and the light weren’t especially great in the end, although they could have been worse and overall I’m pleased with the selection of shots that I got (through a pretty even ratio of luck and judgement). It may have been overcast, but there was still plenty of light to play with, which meant that I could keep the aperture relatively small (around f/8 for most of the day for a nice long depth or field) and the shutter speed fast (usually around 1/500th or faster). Unsurprisingly there were plenty of photographers there, ranging from amateurs to full on pros with a whole host of lights. If I’d have had the foresight, and known a bit more about the arrangement of the day and the layout of the course I could have taken my speedlights along, although I’m not entirely sure if the would have done much good. I do need to look into getting higher synch speeds with them, as I’m currently maxing out at around 1/200th which would have been too slow for what I wanted.
Despite doing a lot of Mountain Biking in my youth (with Speedie more often that not) and being really fascinated by these incredible riders, I’ve not really done much Mountain Biking or BMX photography. It’s definitely something I’d like to do more. I really enjoy watching (the wealth) of BMX videos on Vimeo too, and would love to try my hand at BMX video project as well. If anyone reading this knows any talented riders that would be interested in doing a joint project, let me know!
All in all, a very fun day was had. I hope it becomes and annual event.
*Ever since Speedie mentioned this to me, I’ve had ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails in my head, hence the title…