Ripley Bike Jam…


Mark nailing it in the first image of the day… I need to shoot with this kid more often.

Another early morning at Mont Ripley… well, it wasn’t that early. I arrived at the hill a little before 7:30am and Mark and Timmy showed up soon after. I spent a couple of minutes setting up my lights and helping Mark smooth out some of the frozen bits on the landing. Once Timmy arrived he and Mark started making runs and I started making frames. I want to thank them for pushing back up the hill as many times as they did. When you only have two riders it’s a fairly slow process and I do my best to make every frame count. It’s not like we’re shooting 400 frames and hoping for 3 or 4 keepers. We’re shooting 16-20 frames and hoping for 3-4 good ones.

With that… I want to throw something out there. I know that most of the people that read this won’t have much input, but I’m struggling to get clean sharp images without any motion blur. I’m slightly limited by my camera settings when using lights as the max sync speed of a Nikon D300 is 1/250. This may be fast enough for stopping the action at a basketball game but it’s not nearly fast enough to stop a skier or biker flying by overhead. I’m typically firing my lights at full power and from what I’ve read the flash duration at full power is right around 1/1000.

So, I’ve got some ideas about this, but I’d like to just throw this out there and see what everyone else thinks.

Any tips, tricks, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Here’s Mark again. Here you can really see the amount of motion blur associated with the rider at a shutter speed of 1/250.

So, I figure I could talk a little bit about my approach to these images.

The other night I had some success shooting with a fisheye directly up at some friends on skis. That night they were hitting the longer/bigger take-off and I was actually able to find a spot where I could locate both the take-off and landing in the frame. This made for some cool images. Anyway, I figured I would try something similar today with the mountain bikes.

I knew we would be using the smaller jump as the big one just seemed huge when standing on top with a bike. The riders were coming in on the right hand side then cutting to the left, and taking off from the left side of the lip in order to avoid the melted out ledge that was the right side of landing. I ended up lying on my side under the lip and to the right side. I went with the fisheye again to help exaggerate the height of the rider and to get as much sky in the frame as possible. In the above image you can better see how big the jump was. I the guys to try and hit it as straight as possible as I wanted to be able to see the right side of the bike, and transitioning from right to left caused them to want to flick the tail a little to the right making for a more straight on perspective and reducing some of the dynamic qualities of the shot.

Anyway, I think things turned out alight. I’m still struggling with reducing the motion blur in a lot of these images, but I’ll figure it out eventually… even if it means spending big money on some more powerful lights with shorter durations.

Keep checking back. I don’t plan on not taking photos anytime soon.

Make sure you read the style=”text-decoration: none” href=””>folding bike review for more info on a good bike.


2 thoughts on “Ripley Bike Jam…

  1. jim

    did you say you had an old d70 body kicking around? if aperture and sensitivity aren’t limiting factors why not put it’s high flash syc to use. if i remember right it’s electronic shutter can be pushed well beyond the stated 1/500s.

  2. Greg

    I do have a D70 and using the pocket wizards I know I can sync up to about 1/1000 of a second so long as the duration of the flash is less than 1/1000.

    If I had to do it again tomorrow, I would do down two stops with my shutter speed to 1/1000… open up my aperture 2 stops from 5.6 to 2.8, and then turn my lights down from full power to 1/4.

    This should give me the same ambient and flash exposures yet with 1/1000 shutter and a flash duration of maybe 1/2000. This should be more than enough to give me a sharp image.

    However, what I’m really wondering is how the guys who do this for a living get around this? They’re typically shooting with D3’s and 5D’s and their syncs are limited to 1/250 or even 1/200.

    I’m thinking that there really isn’t any other way besides dropping some coin on more specialized lighting equipment.

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