The photography's been on the back burner for a while; I've been concentrating on the day job. But I've been doing a little and thinking about how I'm going to take the photography forward. For the next couple of years, the conclusion I've come to is that I'm going to back right off from events photography to support my son's track cycling and to a put an end to some of the mad weekends where I was coming off a 50 hour week at the day job to pull a 36 hour photography, photo processing and order fulfilment weekend. So, if you're one of my many cycling events photo customers - thanks. I may be back in a couple of years. We'll see.
What I'm not doing is hanging the camera up. I'm going to be concentrating on editorial work - either events at which Cam is racing and major events like the World Track Champs which, next year, is in Poland. The main outlets will be the British Cycling website and the rejuvenated LondonCycleSport.com, but I have my first 'job' for Cycling Weekly this weekend (of which more later) and hope to get more of my work in print as the year progresses.
Last weekend saw my first event in ages - and then, two hours later, my second! Fortunately, both were at the same venue - the Manchester Velodrome at the National Cycling Centre in Sport City. First up was a youth event my son was competing in. DHL has funded a series of Sprint Schools at the Wales National Velodrome [sic] in Newport and put on a superb end-of-season event for the kids. The morning was a keirin competition and then, in the afternoon, a superb handicap Team Sprint competition on the excellent static WattBikes.
It was my first opportunity to try out Nikon's excellent new SB-900 flash - partly because my two SB-800s have both - yet again - blown their flash tubes. That's twice for one of them and three times for the other. While they were being repaired - yes, I know, I could have had them repaired during the month or so when I wasn't doing very much - I rented an SB-900 for the weekend from Fixation.
First impressions are very good. It's a huge beast and the specs look very good indeed. Best of all, from my point of view, it has a thermal cut-off to prevent me from killing it. A good thing if it was mine, an excellent thing when its rented. Except that it isn't. It's far too conservative and has two settings - on and off. Switched on, it cuts out after around a dozen single shots or one or two quick bursts. Utterly useless. I'm told it's better if you're using alkaline batteries (which don't heat up when discharging the way NiMH cells do) or the optional Nikon external battery pack. We'll see.
The good thing was that it reminded me just how good the high ISO is on the D3, allowing me to take pretty good flash-free shots in the half light of the Manchester Velodrome.