From “Let’s shoot” to “Oh, sh#t!” Put your cap on backwards and commit.

A recent trip to the Downhill MTB National Championships at the Cascades in Pietermaritzburg got me thinking about passion and commitment.

I was looking forward to taking some great action shots of  intrepid cyclists taking steep descents at breakneck speed, maneuvering through difficult “rock gardens”,  flying high over “table tops” and churning up dust storms to rival any Kansas tornado.

We had never photographed this particular sport before and so after a quick cuppa and a pancake, we headed for the nearest bit of the track to find a good position and settle in for the action.  I tried a couple of different positions, one on a slippery slope and another, on what was rather a dangerous corner, but eventually decided to “play it safe” by standing behind the chevron tape, on a straight stretch of track, near to one of the jumps.  I quickly worked out that each and every competitor committed him/herself with passion and dedication and that there were absolutely no half measures and so I set my mind to doing the same in order to get my shot.  I turned my peak cap backwards – something I NEVER do.  To me, a backwards cap, especially on a granny, equals dork with a capital “D”,  but there was simply not enough time to put it in my backpack as I HAD to get my eye to the viewfinder, my finger on the shutter button and keep them there.

After an hour or two and some fairly good attempts with the camera, the heats were over and the competitors were coming down the track one by one on their final run, with high hopes of a place on the podium.  The pace and excitement were “ramping up” and suddenly, out of the heavens, I heard a loud and rather panicked “Oh sh#t, oh sh#t”.  I quickly took the camera away from my eye and realised that a cyclist had miscalculated his landing and was heading straight for me.  Luckily my reflexes took over and with a rapidly beating heart,  I managed to take a couple of steps backwards, just as his front wheel broke through the chevron tape right where I had been standing.  With one foot out of his cleats, he wildly regained his balance and managed to continue on his way, whilst I thanked my lucky stars that I wouldn’t be spending the night in a hospital bed.

My hubby Dave, who was shooting from a spot a little further down the track, saw what was happening and in a split second decided that, as there wasn’t much he could do to help me, he might as well keep his finger on the shutter button.  Just another example, perhaps not such a good one, of solid commitment from a dedicated photographer! Gee thanks Dave – love you too!  Here are a series of his photos showing just what a close shave it was.



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