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Behind the Scenes: More Than Meets The Eye

Tricks and tips from a professional

 
With our man Dunk being featured in the latest Nikon campaign, we thought it was the perfect time to ask him a few questions on some of our favourite snaps of his. There is often more to a photograph than meets the eye. Some are planed for weeks, whilst others just happen with the skill or sometimes luck of the photographer or rider. Some involve a team of people, whilst others are the mission of the rider and photographer. Some use props, special effects or tricks of the trade, whilst others are as simple as the click of a button. Dunk explains a few things about some chosen classics that might not be apparent at first sight.


 

Matt Priest – During his time in The Source Squadron for Warehouse Project

Matt Priest – Can Can in a war zone

The longer the week went on the more we dialled in our special effects. This was one of the first shots we took and it only got crazier from here. These were made by pressurising some copper pipes attached to a plastic hose and filling it with flour. It worked pretty well!
We really went to town with the scenery. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that! The only drawback was that each shot took about 3 hours to get, it felt like slow progress, but I did end up with plenty of bangers to choose from, and it wasn’t your stock BMX shoot.

Special insider trick: For blacking out the walls, we hung loads of the black weed stopper material, the stuff you find in all garden centres, it’s super cheap and you get loads of it. It works perfectly to minimise background detail. We needed each shot to look like the jungle, and that ain’t easy inside a small warehouse. If you need to blackout backgrounds and you’re on a budget, then that’s your stuff.


They’re all there… At some point.

Enigma Bowl – A lesson in Photoshop

It blows my mind every time I see a picture of this place, and you’d never guess it, but it was all actually built by hand, in the most difficult conditions and surroundings. I mean, how? If you have nothing to ride, don’t complain about it, do something about it! The bowl is very tight and confusing to ride. It’ll chew you up and spit you out of you’re not paying attention. Nik, the guy who built it, has mixed the red paint with sand (I think) to give it a rough texture so it’s super grippy.
It rained a lot whilst on the Island of Andros, so it was only the morning of our departure that we managed to get this session in. Priesty almost missed out, in favour of his beauty sleep, but we got him up just in time to snap this composite. I had the idea in my head from the off to shoot everyone individually and stitch the photo together later. We just had enough time between Priesty getting up and the rain returning to get it done.

Special insider trick: Learn how to use photoshop. Making people look higher is not allowed obviously, but removing distracting features (including filmers) is definitely allowed. This was shot with a composite photo in mind and I use the same approach for sequences, so use Photoshop as an addition to your creative repertoire, rather than a tool to rectify mistakes.


Leo keeps it simple on a tricky transition, whilst Snowdonia looms over

Leo Forte – And the forgotten Snowdonia ramp

From the moment I stumbled upon this forgotten ramp in Snowdonia, I knew we needed to do something about it, it was special and needed to be documented. Taking it from idea to fruition took about a yea,r what with all the logistics and planning involved, but to this day, it’s been one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on, and for several reasons. From location, to the crew, the weather, and the general vibe of the whole mission, it was just full of awesome memories. You can’t really ask for more from a BMX photography project, pure perfection.
The ramp was really hard to ride, I think the transitions had been guessed at originally, so the end result was a 4.5ft vert ramp, that was so tight, you really had to have your wits about you, and couldn’t let your guard down for a second. Luckily, the guys I’d asked to come with me are not only handy carpenters but pretty adaptable riders, again, all these elements equated to it being so enjoyable. For some pictures, like this one in particular, it’s so important to show the surroundings in all it’s glory. It’s more about the location than the trick, so a classic flattie was the way to go, while Mt Snowdon did the talking.

Special insider trick
: Since Leo was pretty much wearing camo against a green backdrop, I needed to pick him out a bit. For this, I used two flashes, one behind the transition he’s on and the other hidden by the ramp in front of him. The riders clothes can make a big difference to a shot, it’s always worth considering this before you get to a location, go prepared!

Johnny Devine pushed it higher with each attempt, whilst the others wait their turn.

Johnny Devine – And the fullest of fullpipes

It’s all about the adventure, and when you’re being shown spots in another country, it’s even better. We drove hours to get to this one, but when we clapped eyes on it, we were just in awe. By fa, the largest fullpipe I’d ever seen or ridden. It was dry as a bone and not even much of a fence to hop. We literally, drove right up to it.
It’s crazy how much fun you can have just going back and forth all day, up and down, just trying to get that little bit higher. I shot a lot of pictures here, but this one sums up the vibe pretty well I think, with Johnny Devine carving super high, whilst the others watch and wait their turn. It’s quite a ‘pure‘ BMX photo I think. Simple pleasures and all that.

Special insider trick:
If you need to whack your ISO right up, but the picture gets grainy, then you can try turning it to black and white. Heavily grained B&W photo’s can have a sort of moodiness, if done in the right way.

Isaac Lesser with a whip drop to warp speed bank ride.

Isaac Lesser – Military Ghost Town

I LOVE exploring abandoned places, so couple that with riding and shooting pics of my good friends, it’s about as good as it gets. This huge thing is the entrance to a mine shaft. It’s high, rough as old boots and pretty damn steep. Basically, the sort of thing that you’d definitely not want to crash on. Isaac of course, nailed this whip first go, and thankfully my timing was good, there was a lot that could’ve gone wrong. When he caught the whip he still had a long way to go down a very fast, bumpy and scary bank, the held on for dear life, and just had to ride it out!
This military base was obviously abandoned and I’d been once or twice already to scope it out. There was a big hole in the fence already, so some of the work had been done for us. When we were eventually ejected by the police (whilst packing up though, which was well timed!) I told everyone, if asked, to just tell him exactly what we were up to. It’s a handy thing to remember that trespassing is not actually illegal, although it is a civil offence. As long as you haven’t forced entry or are damaging anything, they can’t do much apart from kick you out, and being polite, courteous and co-operative, can get you a lot further than being a dick.
 
Special insider trick: If it’s going to be a one time deal, then plan every stage. Test your lighting by getting the subject to stand in place, lock off your focus and know exactly what you’re going for. Some things don’t need to be done twice.

See more from Dunks recent Nikon activity HERE.

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