DoonHame: Photos & Blog from a soggy cold day in the mountains

Larry Hickmott’s photo album from the final stage of the Tour of DoonHame in Scotland where it rained, the wind blew and it was almost as cold as last year …

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Covering a race like the Tour DoonHame is a logistical nightmare. Three stages and two of them are place to place so if you do it on a motorbike (best), then you need a backup car to carry luggage and prepare to get very wet. If you do it in a car, like myself, Andy Jones and Cheryl King and her partner Mark (and Lottie!) did, then be prepared to see very little of the race.

On this stage, thanks to Andy Jones’ collection of ordnance survey maps, he was able to point the way to the first place to shoot from, on top of the second cat climb. Anyone thinking the riders were going struggle past would be mistaken as they sped past quite quickly and only a few shots were able to be rattled off before the long trip to the next spot on the stage, the Talla Lins first category, 20% single track climb.

I followed Andy to that one as well but ended up in very different places. As we drove up the climb, a car came the other way (grrrrr) and we had to stop. Andy managed to drive away but all I managed was to listen to my front wheels spin on the steep slopes so reversing down the climb was not how I expected to be spending the drive to the summit.

Thank god no cars were behind me! Anyway, second attempt up the climb went fine and I parked on top where the prime was, hoping to get a shot of Alex Wetterhall going for the KoM points for Endura Racing.

The Photo album

It was cold and the riders were going to have a raging tailwind. I walked down the road to get the angle I wanted and found it was cold but dryish. Then, 15 minutes before the riders arrived, the heavens opened. The bags to keep the cameras dry were in the car and so the cameras got soaked and having seen cameras destroyed by rain, I was not best pleased with myself for being prepared!

Worse still, the rain was being blown straight into my lens and while I could have shot wide angle side on, that lens, even with a lens hood, would be have had water on the front of it seconds. So I kept the lens dry until they arrived and then started shooting. Sure enough, first few shots were okay but one thing that can cause problems is having the camera focus on the rain drops instead of the riders. It didn’t but it can.

With the riders still grouped together as well, there was no time to use the chamois to dry the front of the lens as they were gone in seconds. Not surprising given the tailwind they had and the fact the climb was only four or five percent where I was standing. I was going to do the steep bit but I didn’t trust my car to get going again in an upwards direction from the few parking places on the climb and didn’t want to go downhill because riders would be coming up the climb for a good 20 minutes.

So, that was all I saw of the race. It was back to the finish where mistake two, not having brought a spare wide angle, cost me as the one I was using was fogged and was still fogged many hours later. So I shot the podium long which I don’t generally do but it is a popular way of doing it over the top of the crowd. A ladder helped too but with the riders looking at all the photographers below them, it’s not an angle I’ll use again except in specific circumstances.

So that was stage 3. Wet through, I luckily had a hotel 30 minutes away and was able to get straight to work while the cameras dried out.

The photos here have been edited using the iPad and the app Snapseed. More because I want to give the images a ‘look’ and have a little fun doing it as editing can be a real chore. This was more enjoyable and although unsure whether it’s right to be gimmicky and follow the stream of ‘old style’ images, it is a look I like and so, that’s good enough for me (sod the purists!). Images for clients meanwhile are as shot with very little editing outside of a crop and slight ‘tune up’.

Enjoy …

 Before and after the Snapseed treatment. Just one of many effects that can be applied. This one called Drama seemed appropriate as there was plenty of that on the climb!


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