Amateur Photographer invited me to photograph the Peaks Tour Sportive whilst trying out camera kit brought up by MPB.
It’s so easy to get lost in a new place you’ve never visited before. Where you live you sort of get accustomed to what’s around you. You don’t notice the history and the stories there as much, but going somewhere new leaves the place open to your interpretation. Needless to say, whenever I visit somewhere new I’ll very quickly get lost in what’s around me, which normally involves me capturing it with a camera. Some say to experience moments rather than capture them to tell the story, but for a creative like myself that’s quite difficult to execute. Behind any photo I take there will normally be a story, regardless of whether that experience ends up on my blog or in a notebook.
Heading to the Peak District I was very quickly taken aback by it all. The only way to describe it being large expanses of rolling hills. Granted you get this in Wales, but hills tend to be swapped for mountains so you normally have to walk quite a way to see the view. Any place will naturally have its good days and bad days, but I was definitely in the Peaks on a good day. The golden Autumnal light that makes me love this time of year.
After winning a competition I noticed Amateur Photographer were running, I found myself in Winnats Pass with camera equipment lent out by MPB waiting for cyclists to ascend the infamous Winnats Pass. A winding road that follows the valley making a climb for cyclists of 20% gradient at times. The sun bent its way around the hill tops casting a shadow on the route of the Peaks Tour Sportive, but it was the sun rays that made me want to take a photo.
I had the opportunity to use a Canon EOS R camera body with a 24-105mm lens. My first time using a mirrorless camera, there were a few fancy features to get to grips with like the touch screen on the back. There was the simple fact I needed to get familiar with mirrorless too. I gave it my best shot and the photos in this blog post are the result.
The fact the camera was small and light made it easy to carry around all day, which was a stark difference to when I’d be on my feet all day at Weddings with heavy camera equipment. The Weddings were my first experience of using Canon, which is why I asked MPB if I could try a Canon camera. I’ve used Nikon for years, but loved the Canon’s I use to use. I thought I’d take to the Canon EOS R (and accompanying lens) like a duck to water, but I’ll be honest I’m not completely sold on it. The focus seems a little off and the photos just didn’t seem all that sharp. Now I hold my hands up, it might have just been the person operating it, but I can’t say I’ll be heading to the camera shop to get one. Not for cycling photography anyway.
When we’d finished on Winnats Pass we made our way to a quaint little village called Monyash, Derbyshire. With a church, pub and cafe it almost felt like you were on some sort of television set. The houses were quiet and everyone congregated outside the tiny Old Smithy Tearooms. I love going to these villages only accessible by country lanes that stretch out for miles purely because of the characters you meet there. Their way of life is different and its almost inspiring. It brings me back to every photo having a story. There will often be a reason I press the shutter.
The dog below was curled up basking in the sun next to a bench on which sat two older men chatting about a sketch book in one of their hands. They were completely lost talking about painting techniques and it took them a while to notice I was even photographing their dog. Meanwhile, their dog couldn’t care less at what was going on around him. It’s just little moments like that you don’t forget. They keep these little hidden gems of the world stuck in your head wanting to go back and explore further.
Easily distracted, a lot of the photos I took in Monyash weren’t actually of bikes like was intended. I wandered down public paths and through farmer’s field, just to see what I could find. I was naturally drawn to other dogs in the village two, one wanting to make sure his presence was known where as another was quite happy doing pirouette’s.
I suppose I should actually talk about the sportive itself run by UK Cycling Events, which is named the Peaks Tour Sportive. From the name you can imagine it’s no easy challenge, especially when the cyclists were barely warmed up they were tackling Winnats Pass. If they weren’t warm before the climb, then they certainly would be after. Routes covering 50, 75 and 100 miles you had varying abilities tackling the route, but all in good spirit. It was certainly different from photographing criterium and road races.
So essentially I went to the Peak District with Amateur Photographer to use some fancy cameras equipment, but its the places I got to see I’ll remember the most and probably go back to. I met some amazing photographers on the day too who were great to chat to, some just as interested in cycling as I was.