Charlie Borland captures the true essence of mountain biking
This picture of a man mountain biking is a perfect example of how Charlie Borland is able to capture speed, movement and excitement in a single photo with the help of flash.
A Unique Flash Technique
Charlie Borland: This image of a mountain biker flying through the air was actually taken for a client. We selected a spot. These mountain biking locations are popping up all over the United States. This one happens to be up in Hood River, Oregon.
Up in the national forest they have extensive mountain biking areas where they’ve built a ramp. These guys go flying down the hill and hit the ramp and they end up flying through the air. Unfortunately I look at this as a non-participatory sport so I’m not actually doing it to get the pictures. I can just stay on the ground.
What I did in this case was I choose a 30th of a second because he’s really moving. I wanted to keep him as sharp as I could, yet the background has a nice textured blur to it. One other thing I also did (and I do this technique on occasion) is I used flash. (click the image for a larger version)
The flash sort of freezes him in the air and it reduces some of the blurring that might occur on the actual subject. It doesn’t affect anything where the flash is not hitting. It only affects the subject where the flash was aimed. I actually had a photo assistant off to the side holding a flash aimed right at the subject.
As he went by flying through the air, I focused on him tightly, panning with him. The flash fired and freezes him in action but the shot still has that blur technique to it. It’s a very effective technique — combining moving subjects with flash. I use that quite often.
Audri Lanford: That’s fascinating. I’ve never seen that before.
Charlie Borland: The other factor that allowed this shot to work so well was the fact that he’s far enough away from those trees in the background that they’re not getting hit by the flash and the flash is not having the same effect on them.
Want to take stunning action photos that freeze the subject and blur the background? Charlie Borland shows us that flash is sometimes the best way to do it, as was the case with this mountain biking shot.