So here's the brief: go to the Lake District - one of the UK's most gob-smackingly beautiful areas, chock full of great riding and jaw-dropping vistas - and come back with a cover that sums up both the riding and the scenery. Simple, huh? Well, you'd have thunk so.
Problem number one was that, on the designated day for the shoot, the weather closed in. I mean really closed in. Sixty mile an hour winds and driving hail - the kind of weather that you'd think twice about going out in at all, never mind with a bike and several thousand pounds' worth of camera gear.
So I waited for the worst of the weather to blow over and used the time in the afternoon to brave the elements and do some exploration on foot. Which was when problem number two hove into view - combining a good riding shot and epic scenery in a format that suits a UK magazine cover isn't nearly as easy as you'd think, even when every corner you turn presents another picture postcard panorama. See, there are lots of boxes to tick:
- bike and rider occupying around half the frame, roughly central
- riders' eyes clearly visible
- bike brand (and preferably model) clearly visible
- rider 'doing' something interesting - cornering; climbing or dropping off something steep
- trail visible in both foreground and background
- space above the rider for the masthead; space below and to each side for coverlines
So where does the scenery go? Good question. To one side. And that means finding a trail that's kinda fairly extremely on the edge of something pretty darn steep, with the right kind of view just off to one side. Harder than it sounds.
But after about three hours of trudging around an area that looked promising on the map but which was yielding frustratingly little in the way of both trail and view (though plenty of either on their own), I finally stumbled upon - literally - this nice little rock drop with a great fells-and-lake backdrop. Perfect.
Luckily for me, when we finally got back there two days later, the sun remained obstinately behind the clouds. That would normally irritate me, but since it would've been directly behind the rider's head and a potential source of flare and contrast problems, I was quite happy for it to have the day off - it let me add my own artificial sun. To paraphrase Joe McNally, available light is any old light source I happen to have available at the time...