2 May 2018

Battle Of The Photographer

WORDS & PHOTOS x Anthony Pease

My tyres are working to the edge of their ability, grabbing traction where ever they can. Stones are kicking up and soaring through clouds of dust. The trail opens with a vista of the greenest trees, rock beds that are almost lunar, and the bluest of skies as far as my eyes can see. All I want to do is let go of the brakes, pump the pedals hard and let rip down the serpentine-like track that lays out in front of me. Instead I pull hard on the brakes, pull off the trail, panting like a dog on a hot day. I hurry to pull out my camera, change the settings, scrabbling around the trail side to compose a shot and then within an instant, CLICK! My mates fly past, whooping and screaming with joy. “Why did I stop here?”, my inner self screams, “you could be leading the way whooping down the trail with your mates!” Then the other part of me looks down at the screen, what a banger! Suddenly, my thoughts change and I can’t wait to show them the shots over a beer tonight.

Reading this will hit a familiar chord for some, they will understand the torment between wanting to stop to take a shot or just letting it rip and enjoying the trail in its entirety, without stopping. MTB photographers and enthusiasts alike often battle between their love of turning the pedals and releasing the shutter at that perfect moment. For me it’s an eternal battle, I love shredding my MTB probably more than I love photography. Yet when I nail a shot a huge sense of satisfaction washes over me and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

I floated into the world of photography because I love recording the things I do, the places I visit and the people I meet along the way. Over the years as my knowledge and experience grew, my trail bag has expanded along with it, carrying all the things I think I may need to cover a day’s riding with the camera. This has a side effect though, a bulky weight that then can hamper how I ride, how fast I go and how long I want to ride for. On a day’s ride, I can go lightweight but on a multi-day trip it becomes a real battle between what is important and what is not.

Last summer I did a week’s trip in the Southern Alps where we stayed in refuges to help keep kit at a minimum. The route was based around hitting a few big descents daily, so big trail bikes and small packs were essential to make sure we could make the most of those alpine trails and help carry the bikes on the relentless hike-a-bike sections. I pretty much stripped my riding kit to less than a minimum just so I could take my camera gear. The bag was heavy, bulky and due to its size prevented me from being able to carry the bike on my back like the others. Day after day of pushing the bike up thousands of metres took its toll on my back, the pain grew each day and every morning became a prison-like act of getting me and my bike to the mountain tops. I spent hours moaning to myself, promising that I will never bring a camera on a trip like this again. Yet as soon as we stopped to take in a view, hit the trail, and of course take a shot, all the previous personal pain seeped away and having my photography gear with me in the most amazing places more than made up for it. The shots kept rolling and the cards kept filling up, memories were being recorded and friendships were being made.

Will I take a camera on my next big adventure? Hell yes!!

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