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Behind the Scenes: Exposure Lights Shoot

Wet, windy and wild...

As the nights start to draw out we thought we’d better get this up sharpish! You may remember that back on December we did a night time riding feature with Exposure Lights. Here we going ‘behind the scenes’ with photographer Laurence Crossman-Emms, as he talks us through how he created the images… from cold and wet Welsh mountainsides, to from cold and wet Welsh forests!

Words: Laurence Crossman-Emms
Photos: Laurence Crossman-Emms
BTS Photos: Dan Struthers

When I was approached to shoot some photos for Exposure Lights, I was really excited to go out and try and capture the true essence of night time riding. Creatively this was right up my alley, a mixture of action and dynamic lighting to show both the solitude of the night but also how damn powerful these lights are.

Right from the get go I was thinking long exposures, showing off a swooping piece of trail with an elegant light trail to match. I wanted to also team it with the fast paced riding by freeze framing the action along with the light trail. Technically it’s a tough one to pull off, but then adding in the factors of bikes, night time and being out the wilderness, it adds a whole other level.

Night riding to me is all about getting out in the darkness, enjoying the peace and finding that trail that really buzzes you, so I wanted to shoot this project on a varied set of trails, flowy trail centres to nibbly singletrack, finding somewhere to exaggerate that night time feeling.

 

Over three nights, my self and several riders travelled around North Wales capturing the action. Kicking it off with Antur Stiniog, where we ran into our first challenge, the weather! Antur is known for its wild weather patterns and in the middle of December you can’t expect lovely clear nights, more the total opposite.

Pulling up to Antur, it was already dark, we knew we were in for a wild night. Standing on the tops of the trails, you just felt disorientated, wind blowing you in your face, not knowing where it’s coming from, bright lights shining everywhere. Just trying to get kit out and set up flashes was tricky enough, let alone having Joe Thorburn and Emyr Davies ride their bikes!

We pressed on either way by starting the shoot off on a hip jump, naturally the best option in the windy conditions. By setting my camera to a long exposure of around 30 seconds I was able to capture the light trail that was cast by the helmet mounted light. We used the Exposure Equinox on top of the lids, surprisingly light and pack a fair punch with its all internal battery design. Then also during the long exposure I triggered the flashes at the peak of the jump to freeze the action onto the exposure. We used this technique for all the photos in the project, experimenting on a range of action, corners, jumps and fast sections to see what would yield the best results. It really was a game of trail and error.

The second night, myself and willing riders Kirsty Edwards, Ryan Dutton and Joe Thorburn headed to the popular trail centre of Oneplanet Adventure in Llandegla Forest. We were lucky to team the shoot on a Wednesday night where they keep the cafe and shop open late especially for night riding. A hot dinner was well in order… if we finished in time!

Llandegla’s combination of flowy trails tucked inside the trees made for more of a wooded feel but also provided much needed shelter from the wild Welsh winter weather. We used a combo of helmet lights and bar mounted Exposure Six Pack and MaXx D lights during the night to try for a few different effects.

The final night was set to be in the mysterious woods surrounding Llanrwst at the Marin trail. As myself and rider Joe Thorburn drove there, we were battered with torrential rain and gusty winds, we knew the last night was going to be an eventful one. Meeting up with BTS snapper Dan Struthers and rider James Hughes, we found our selves sat in the car park taking shelter for some time before bucking up the courage to face the weather.

We took the rain for as long as we could, but the weather got the better of us. Soaked through after a good few hours in the dark we retired and called an end with a wrap-up pizza at the local chippy.

Shooting done and back to the edit suits. Editing a set of photos like this can be tricky as there is a real balance of doing enough and processing them way too much. It’s key to nail the White Balance on a set like this, as the colour of the light can throw out any Auto WB system and make the overall shot far too blue, flip side, it’s easy to over compensate the colour of the light and you end up with a orange/yellow tint to everything. Using the flashes to light up the scene gave me a good indication of the WB and general exposure of the image so I edited around that, exaggerating the brightness of the lights but not blowing up the darks to ruin that night time feel.

Overall I feel the whole project came together really well, a great team of riders that put their necks out when it came to fairing the weather and top effort from Dan with the BTS photos. Get your self out on a set of lights (Exposure of course!) and hit the trails.

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