Mountain Biking on Mars - Maui Skyline Trail

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Ok..... Maybe not Mars,  but if you can't wait for Elon Musk to build the first mountain bike park on Mars then the Haleakala Volcano in Hawaii will have you believing you're on another planet. 

Haleakala is a volcano standing at an oxygen thinning 3000 meters/ 10,000ft above sea level and is still considered active (eruptions occuring in the last 500 years at least!). The view is like nothing you've ever seen, and If that's not cool enough, there's a pretty good mountain bike trail up there too, descending 7000ft, if you're into that sort of thing!

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The trail is called The Skyline Trail and starts above the clouds and descends down the martian  landscape into the lush forests below. 

The local bike shop in Makawao, Krank is the place to start, they'll be happy to rent you a killer bike and provide some maps, my choice was easy;

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Next you need someone to drive you to the top of the volcano, as you won't be pedalling up this one. Lucky for me, its my honeymoon, and what better way to start a marriage than shuttling mountain bike runs!! Best wife ever! 

Once at the top, the rest is easy, but heed the warning the bike shop guy gave me; Lava rocks are big and plentiful and are like riding down a river of tennis balls... so take it easy. 

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There were a few corners that had me wondering if i might roll off the end of the earth.

You can nail a top to bottom in 45 minutes, but it's worth stopping a few times to take in the views and check your bike isn't rattling to pieces as it's a long walk out if you break it.

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What got me most excited was the change in terrain, you start on the lava rock and after 15 minutes you'll gradually enter greener more hard packed dirt, blink and your in pine forests for what feels like endless single track. 

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And you'll know when you're getting close to the end when you hit paved roads, but the fun doesnt stop there, who doesn't like charging down winding roads at 60km/h?

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Three thirds down that road, you will find the lavender farm and this is where the Strava segment ends, so no point riding on, stop for a lavender coffee and scone. 

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Where It All Began

I think most people would remember their first mountain bike race. For me, its was the King of Ballarat, Black Hill and the first of many, many bike races.

More than 10 years later I'm back where it all began, and this time I'm photographing the next generation of rock star downhill mountain bikers. The KOB is the only racing you'll find in the winter here in Victoria so all of Vic's best turn up and you can bank on some wet roots and sloppy slopes! 

Thinking back, i remember Troy Brosnan raced here once, and I'm proud to say i beat him.. Yes, he might have been 13 years old at the time, but a win is a win!

Now, ten years on, Troys winning world cups, I'm taking photos and the King of Ballarat is going strong. Im here in Ballarat for round 3 of the series it's amazing to see where Club Mud has taken the event, the turn out is bigger than ever, the venue and trails are incredible considering the size of the hill, but most of all it’s still a whole lot of fun!.

Here are a few images to re cap the day;

New New Zealander.

Im moving to New Zealand! Thankfully i just married a Kiwi so there is no way immigration can knock me back! Specifically, I'm moving to Queenstown. Kasey pack your bags.

Words can't describe about beautiful New Zealand's south island is so here are my pictures......

Milford Sound

In between Queenstown and Glenorchy


Kinlock, near Glenorchy

Te Anau

Milford Sound


Lake Marian Hike

Halfway Bay

Blue Derby Puts on the Greatest Mountain Bike EWS Round So Far

Last weekend I covered the Mountain Bike Enduro World Series (EWS) event, which took place in Derby, Tasmania, and I though it was a good time to reflect and share what I've learnt over my years of photographing fast actions sports.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the EWS events, they usually take place over one or two days. The riders navigate 5 - 7 stages but are only timed on the descents. Participants are required to ride back up to the top of each next stage and complete all stages within a set window of time, without any assistance, including mechanical.

Firstly from photography standpoint, riders are literally flying (up to 60km/h) so having your camera set up to freeze the action is critical. Shutter speed is important, if you want a tack sharp image, your shutter speed needs to be at least 1000th/sec, but 1250th/sec is ideal. This means using as much available light as possible, and often mountain biking is done under the canopy of trees, so a wide open aperture is vital. A lens with an aperture of f2.8 useful, I've gone all the way to f1.6 but the risk missing a shot due to the shallow depth of field does increase. If you are really struggling with light, a high ISO of 4000 - 6400 is ok, as long as the shot is exposed correctly, a little gain wont hurt your image. 

Once your camera is set up my most important advice, and what I've told other photographers starting out, is get to the event early and choose your track side location wisely. Too often I see images on social media of a rider that looks like they are out for a leisurely Sunday ride in the park. 

The biggest challenge for a photographer is not mastering the settlings of your camera by nailing a composition that displays the true energy, speed and extreme nature of the sport. So make sure you get in to a position where you know the riders will be at their absolute limits, fighting to keep control of the bike. 

Thats where the best images come from….. and a few crashes! Work the angles, get down low to make obstacles look bigger than what they are and don't be afraid to get close to the action and get your camera a little dirty. 

That’s enough about the technical stuff, now on to the event. The town of Derby and the people are just beautiful and it was the perfect setting for a World series event. The weather on the other hand, wasn’t so pleasant. Pouring rain all day made it a hard day out for all involved - the riders, organisers and spectators, but no one was deterred and crowds on each stage were spectacular. The racing didn't disappoint with a close etched battle between the best riders in the world and for the men it came down to the 7th and final stage where Adrien Dailly from France took the win from beneath Ireland’s Greg Callaghan who finished 2nd. Our very own star from Western Australia, Sam Hill took out 3rd place. In the womens competition, Isabeau Courdurier from France took her first ever EWS win ahead of rival, also from France Cecile Ravanel. 

So the racing is done, but the days not over and as the champagne is being popped down in the pits I'm transferring gigabytes of images on to a hard drive and sending them off to riders and clients.

Crossing the Nullarbor - Perth to Melbourne

Telling someone that you’re planning to drive from one side of Australia to the other, across the Nullarbor, will get you one of two responses: ‘Are you crazy’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to do that’. Most ask if you’re crazy. The perception of driving across the Nullarbor is that it must be one of the most boring road trips you could consider, and theoretically they might be correct in thinking that. In fact the drive crosses a lot of empty space, but thats what makes it so charming. The Nullarbor means ‘No Tree’ and you literally won’t see a tree for long periods of time, but you also won’t see bus loads of tourist, cities, factories and any other chaos that surround us in our lives. Its the true meaning of an escape!

Let’s start with the Western Australia leg. It actually takes two days of driving to reach the border of Western Australia (WA) and South Australia. WA is HUGE, so I decided to stop at Esperance on the first night. Going this way takes you off the main road, adding two hours to the trip but what’s two hours when the entire triptakes 36?

My plan was to camp where I could and in Esperance there is a beach called Lucky Bay, where you can camp just a few metres off the most beautiful beach in Australia. But…not only the most beautiful beach, but one that’s just like the tourism commercials with kangaroos on it! For photographers it’s a great spot with white sand, massive granite peaks and a Roo for the point of interest.

I do recommend arriving at the camping grounds early in the day, as it does tend to fill up by about 9am at peak times. I, myself turned up at 4pm to a full camp ground, requiring me to plead with some French hitchhikers to allow me to pitch my swag on their site. The couple were lovely, they did ask if they could accompany me on my trip to Melbourne and unfortunately I had to say no, 34 hours of small talk is way too much for me.

Anyway, drop in to Esperance because it’s simply amazing. Cape Le Grand National Park is packed with photographic opportunities. Climb Frenchman Peak, there is a really cool cave at the top and you will get an amazing sunrise image from there.

Thistle Cove is just down from Lucky Bay and while there on Australia Day morning, I didn’t see another human for hours. Perfect white sand, crystal clear water, you’ll be pinching yourself and wonder if it’s a dream.

Next stop was Eucla, I chose this location for its proximity to the ocean and the great landscape photo potential and specifically the old jetty that sits on the beach near to the camp grounds.

The drive between Esperance and Eucla was one of my favourite sections of the trip. Approaching 90 Mile Straight is where you begin to get the sense of being in the middle of nowhere. About three-quarters of the way to Eucla you will reach Madura. The road suddenly begins to decline steeply and you’re hit with this insane view of the plains and ocean ahead of you. My biggest regret was not turning back up the road to take a photo as the sun was about to set, but I was on a mission to make it too Eucla Jetty and time was running out.

Eucla really surprised me. There was little more than a motel and service station perched up on the ridge of the Bight, looking out over the ocean. But this is what makes it so surreal.

Day Three started by crossing in to South Australia and passing through Boarder Town and into the Nullarbor National Park. Over the next 300km Eyre Highway follows the ridge of the Great Australian Bight. Along the highway there are three lookouts for tourists to observe the Bight. Lookout number one on the east end is the best, in my opinion, and where most photographs are taken of the cliffs. If I had an extra day I would most definitely be camping out on the edge of the Bight.

Lookout number one at the east-end of the Bight


Once past the Nullarbor the landscape really starts to change, the view becomes a welcoming green colour. Trees, grass and rolling hills is what you’ll see most of the way towards Adelaide. I decided at the last minutes to spend my last night in the Barossa rather than Adelaide as I wasn’t ready to face a big city just yet.  I arrived in the Barossa at around lunch time and did the first thing anyone should do in the Barossa, find some pressed, fermented grapes, also referred to as red wine!

Given the vast area of the Barossa and the fact I was only there for one night I needed some local advice on where to catch a beautiful sunset image. The lovely ladies at Bethany’s Winery (after the purchase of their signature and expensive Shiraz) were kind enough to give me some rare and closely guarded directions to a location mostly reserved for locals. Fifteen minutes out of town, through a few gates and cross country through a sheep paddock I found the spot….OMG. I had no doubt it was the best view in the Barossa. My pictures don’t do it justice, so I need to go back there soon.

Day five and the home stretch! Let me tell you, by this stage I was beginning to wish it was all over! Get me to the the airport! Driving eight hours a day for five days straight will do that to you! I didn’t stop the whole way to Melbourne, passing the Grampians I did wishing I had one more night up my sleeve, so I’ve made a mental note to return for a few days.

Would I do it again? Hell yeah. The trip deserves at least 7 days to take it all in, there are some amazing locations to photograph but to get them at the right time of day you need time.


New York - Urban Photography Bliss

Its doesn't matter what kind photographer you ask they will all say, NEW YORK is officially heaven for urban photography.

It has a little for everyone and a lot for people who love street and urban photography. I like the idea of street photography, but never really saw myself as someone who is brazen enough to just photograph random people in the street as they go about there lives, but in New York it just happens. Its easy!!.. Actually I shouldn't say its easy as you still need to piece together composition, light, timing, patience, camera settings etc, but there's just so much going on you don't need to walk far before you find something interesting to photograph.

Camera Gear for Urban Photography

Urban photography in NYC is a long way from the mountain bike trails and natural landscapes I am use to, so like a true amateur i packed every lens i owned, plus went out and brought two more just for the trip, including the Zeiss Batis 18mm (I love this Lens) which ill write a little about in another blog.

Lugging around a ton of kit, i broke my shoulders, and you know what? I ended up using one lens the whole trip, the 24 - 70 G Master 2.8. Yeah yeah i know its the most versatile lens... blah blah... its an obvious pick, but i really enjoy primes, so twisting my own arm, convincing myself to get it (and sold a kidney to pay for it) i loved it! The 55mm, the 18mm and the 85mm staying in the bag the entire trip!

Do your Planning

So, if you're planning a trip to NYC, a little home work goes along way as there are lots of images to capture, its a BIG city. Here is my Pinterest board CLICK HERE i put together prior to the trip, and my best advice is; travel light, take a versatile lens choice and get out and walk around.

The must see attraction which only opened in New York in 2016, so expect crowds; is the Oculus $4 billion dollar World Trade Centre train station. Located downtown in Greenwich, it replaces the station that was destroyed in the 9/11 event.

Dial up the exposure compensation inside as its like shooting in the snow because there is so much whiteness going on it will confuse your cameras automatic exposure reading and result in a grey picture.

An obvious stop for most travellers to New York is the Empire State Building and the view from is not to be missed. Do yourself a favour and book the sunrise session, its a little costly but you will beat two hour queues. The best part about this is only a small group of people go up each morning, oh and need i mention it's golden hour and who doesn't like to shoot a mega city 84 stories up at golden hour? Anyway, its back to Perth for, a bleak contrast to New Yorks Behemoth photography potential.