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December 14, 2010 - I’ve been shooting with Kirt Voreis for quite a few years and we always seem to have fun and get great results, maybe that’s why he’s one of my favorite mtb athletes to shoot with. This past September I headed to Kirt’s hometown of Bend, Oregon to shoot an ad for Fox Racing. The ad features the new Fox all weather Breakaway Jacket, and my creative briefing simply said “It’s an all weather jacket, make it look wet and wintery”. That didn’t sound too difficult until I arrived in Bend and the weather was beautiful and sunny, with the same forecast for the next few days. Trail conditions – dry and dusty, this is one of those things that happens occasionally, but being the seasoned pros that we are, we weren’t too troubled by it. Kirt and I put on our thinking caps and came up with a bunch of different ideas. We’d been wanting to shoot a backlit water spray shot for a while now, so that became one definite option. However I also wanted a nice lush wet looking trail shot, something that would really sell the viewer on what the product was for… Kirt’s wife Lindsay ended up coming to the rescue. Lindsey guides mountain bike tours for Cog Wild in Bend and instantly knew the perfect location for us.

The Umpqua River Trail in central Oregon has a few sections that are always wet and green looking, and she showed me some photos of the ‘weeping wall’ a mossy green rock wall dripping with water. The Umpqa is about a 3 hour drive from Kirt’s house, but it featured a camping area complete with a natural hot spring. Bonus! Whoever said this job is all work and no fun hasn’t worked with Kirt and I.

We made plans, loaded up the All Ride van, and headed south. Arriving at the campground late in the afternoon we quickly set up camp and took off for an evening scouting ride. We rode for a while as the sun was setting and I made some mental notes about the direction and where the sun would be during the next morning’s shoot. I figured we’d have to be out a little bit early, but nothing too crazy. I’ve had my share of 4AM starts to shoot first light at 5AM in the summer, luckily this wasn’t going to be one of those. Darkness came quickly and we rode back to camp barely able to see.

As I prepared gear for the morning Kirt cooked up some steaks and potatoes while his cousin Ron tended to the fire. After a tasty dinner with only a little bit of dirt (Kirt dropped the steaks twice) we headed to the hot spring for a late night soak before getting some well needed sleep.

I was fairly bang on with my predictions about the morning light, and we had more than enough time. It turned out that the darkness was more of an issue than the light, and I was forced to shoot at only 1/320 f/4 ISO 1600. I set up a few different angles on the section of trail we had found the night before, and used Nikon Speedlights to freeze the action and light up the water coming off of Kirt’s wheels. The trail was really rocky, almost a creek at this point, and the biggest obstacle we had were flat tires. That and trying to balance the freezing power of the flash with the available daylight. I wanted Kirt to pop a little, but I also didn’t want to lose too much of the background, and it was dark. In the end it all worked out fairly well.

Here’s a brief tally of the trip:

Shots taken: 338

Shots used: 10

Flashes used: 4

Flat tires: 4

Beers drunk: ++

Dropped steaks: 2

Hotspring sessions: 1

After we got back from Umpqua I had another day in Bend and we decided to shoot the water spray shot. That one was definitely an adventure in and of itself. Blocking the city street drain at the bottom of the hill and running hoses into the street from more than one house to make a giant puddle. I think it turned out fairly well though!

Kirt Voreis