Over the Easter long weekend one of the attractions to this area is the Mildura Ski racing.
Let me just say that it didn’t start out to be anything other than a quick trip up the Murray River to a spot I’ve looked at a couple of times as a possible location to shoot the Mildura ski racing. Howeve, as I rarely have the day off and don’t normally shoot sports, it wasn’t a high priority. Last Sunday, as it turns out, allowed me a little time to fit in some play photography with some fast… Naaah… Very fast boats. Unfortunately, the wheels started to fall off my shoot real early. Waiting for the return 50 kilometre leg of the GTS Milura 100 Ski Race to start, I noticed clouds slowly but surely covering the sky. As race time got closer the sun light, or more paticularly the angle of the sun light was going to be non existant. To put that into technical terms… the light was going to suck… boring, flat and blaaaaah…. I’m outta here kinda light. After all, I work all sorts of light on a daily basis, often because there is no other choice. You try telling a bride you can’t work today because the light isn’t right. Today though, I’m just playing, so common sense tells me to walk away. Go home and mow the lawn or something.
Just before I leave, a quick chek of my GPS shows a close by bend in the river, which may work, as long as there are not to0 many people there. As luck would have it, I’m almost alone. Except for half a dozen very dead and smelly carp. But you can’t have it both ways. In fact anybody know where I can get hold of some more of these stinky little blighters for next year? Just joking! Or maybe….
Anyway, as a photographer ski racing offers a bit of a challenge. Especially as I’d selected a corner that one, put the boats on a bit of an angle and two hopefully gave me a couple backgrounds to play with. So far so good. The down side, of this spot. I would be shooting almost blind. I wouldn’t see the boats untill they rounded a bend about 50 metres away. Then I would have about 1 – 5 seconds to get them in frame, focus and shoot. Simple! Besides, I planned to cheat a bit. Ski race boats are not whisper quiet. In fact, a similar asult on your audio senses can be had by taking a Harley Davidson into a shed, removing the muffler and revving it out to red line country.
The other issue with this ski racing capper, is they send the fastest boats at you first. So, no practice runs. You’re in the deep end straight up. Chances are the first boat around that blind corner is going to be travelling on the north side of 200 clicks. I walked the river bend. Both sides of the corner the one I could see and also the blind side. Tried to figure roughly what race line is most likely to be a go… then waited. Finally I can hear them coming, I’m expecting the first boat to be Hellrazor, and I’m hoping they’re clear of another boat. Last thing a poor old photo dude needs is not one but two really quick boats on you at once. Problem is, I was sure I would be able to hear individual boats and know how many where about to pop out at me. I hadn’t counted on Rob Vigor’s in his shiny new helicopter, in hot pursuit of the leaders. Boat noise, chopper noise and I have zero idea of what is about to present itself or where it is going to present. If there are two boats vying for the lead, race lines will be so very different to what I’ve anticipated. That would mean next to no chance of reajusting photo angles before the first boats became nothing more than distant memories. As it turned out it was Hellrazor first, and pretty much where I had expected it to run, so got a couple of so so shots of it. But you’re not getting to see them here. I’m sure every news service will have covered their race in minute detail. I decided instead, to run with Superman and then only because I love his rego IMFLYIN.
If you really need to see the Hellrazor photos or any other of the GTS Mildura 100 Ski Race competitors, there is a gallery of shots over at excitations stock photo archive.
As I’ve said before, I’m not much into sports photography these days. If I was, I would know what this observers arm gestures meant. All I can think of, this being a religiously significant holiday weekend and all. Is maybe he was preaching the gospel to all those following. I don’t knowfor sure, just guessing.
The one thing I do know about sports photography. When you’re shooting fast machines, they rarely look spectacular. Off road cars and bikes are an exception. Most times however, fast machinery is stable, boringly consistant and largely predictable. Which is why they are F-A-S-T.
Air Force 1, pedal to the metal exiting a corner during the Mildura ski racing event over the Easter long weekend. not the great, once in a lifetime shot I’d planned for my Sunday but I’ll take anything handed to me. Besides, realizing that one great shot is not going to be in residence here on the Murray at Mildura on this day. I’ve kinda settled down into a maybe, I’ll try and shoot each competitor mood. Try a few different things and see how they fly, and while I’m at it build a few more images into our excitations stock library.
For those of you like me. You know, totally clueless about ski racing. It seems there are a multitude of different classes. So while the media focus on the big banger class and first across the line stuff. There are numerous little battles going on out there. Classes divide by many things I’m told, engine capacity, inboard and outboard power, age of skiers, I suspect gender also. For me, some of the more interseting shots came from boats you wouldn’t normally expect to see in mainstream media reports. I loved this quirky little frame of Cinders, a stunning looking boat with a couple or more years under her belt. Traveling a little slower than the quicks, cutting a tighter racing line, allowed me to frame a shot with a little more care.
I suspect all the boaties out there will think I’m a bit of a nutter. As I seem to like the back end of a race boat. I like the way you can see into the boat, get a sense of the drama within the boat and of course we see the result feeding a few hundred horse power into a tiny little propellor. The boat above is Sledge Hammer. There are some facinating names amongst these boats. Many are clever, some make you work a little to find a meaning and some… well let’s just say I’d love to be there while you try and explain to the little kids what the name means.
Years ago there was a photographer making a name for himself in Europe. Photographing fast moving ocean going speed boats. Mostly he shot from behind and from a helicopter, I think, I know why he shot from behind! I’d love to know how he was able to keep upwith them in a chopper though. I noticed the helicopters on Sunday cheating by cutting corners. Which I guess is what the ocean going guys did as well.
Of course there is a whole other side to ski racing. Those brave, some would say fool hardy souls, who strap a plank of wood to their feet, grab a rope and hitch a free ride behind a bucking, screaming water plume that some call a ski boat. Fearless is the only term I can think of. Actually no, bloody mad is another. Think of it this way. If the wind is blowing at 100-120 kilometres and hour you would be in a serious storm. At 200 you’re in a hurrican or cyclone. So while trying to stand up in hurrican force winds you also have to contend with water spray peppering your face like bullets while still, somehow, miraculously retaining your balance on a thin stick of wood. Some ride!
These two skiers impressed me greatly. For the few seconds I had them in my viewfinder, they appeared to be in perfect harmony with each other, symetrical in shape and form. Something I suspect may have evloved from more than a little practice. From Memory, they where hitching a ride behind Smokin Injun.
For those looking for more pictures of Mildura ski racing, and in paticular images of most boats competing in the 2013 GTS Mildura 100 Ski Race, there is a gallery over at excitations stock.
If you do pop over there and don’t want to spend the day looking at all the images you can select search from top of the gallery page, enter the boat name, or boat number from the Mildura ski racing event and bingo. Well hopefully bingo.