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Round 3 of the Australian Mountain Bike National Series was on this past weekend and I gave myself a photo challenge.  Shoot with nothing more than a 300mm. No zoom, no flashes, no fisheye, nothing that I normally use.

This was the first (and probably only) round I will attend this year and the pressure was sure on me.  Clients to keep happy, shots to add to archives, and the only and only chance to get some high class DH race action this year.  So why did I do it?  Why not? The same-old-same-old crap that fills the internet every week after a race gets a bit boring sometimes and I did it to help me progress.

Just like the people we shoot, we too have to practice and put ourselves in new, uncomfortable, and challenging situations - and hopefully learn from our failures.  Yep, it's hard and the failure rate is high but the rewards are the constant development of ideas, concepts and hopefully better images.

Damian with his one and only lens for the race.
I found it hard (very hard) and, to all honestly, I think I failed. I produced the same-old-same-old.  The track didn't allow me to get far enough away from the action, the depth-of-field was super short on the tight stuff, and panning without image stabilization was a nightmare.  But I did learn from the experience and that was the point.

Just like our bike-riding subjects, if we always play it safe, we would never get anywhere.  Put away those two remote flashes, dump that trusty 70-200mm, tape up the preview screen, get an old manual focus lens, get scared, shoot a race on a 256MB memory card, do whatever and see what you come up with.

Do something different, progress yourself and the rest of us will follow  - just like the people we shoot.

PhotoSam Hill has been to every race in the Australian series thus far and is showing that he wants to get fit and ready for the World Cup season.  He hasn't had the best luck this season against this the World's smallest Australian downhill racer, but I think things will be different come the bigger races.

PhotoEveryone has a different riding style and that's what makes it so cool. Three different forks and three different number plate mounting styles. Take your time kids, mount them up right!

PhotoYounger brother of Bryn, Rhys Atkinson.  When Rhys isn't smashing it on a DH bike he's building mountain bike trails for a job.  100% bike dude.

PhotoIn amongst the dry dirt and dust is something fresh and tasty.

PhotoTracey Hannah is back.  Old news, I know, but good news as she will make the women's field a little more interesting.   She's super happy about being on the same team as her brother and the two of them will land pretty frequently on the podium this year (my prediction).

PhotoShooting 300mm means that you are sometimes way too close, but at least I get to tell the riders if their tires are mounted with the proper rotating direction.

PhotoFull sniper shot. I was waaaaay off the track and found this little hole in the branches of a tree. About the only shot from the day that I really liked.

PhotoMy 300mm isn't a VR (or IS for you Canon goons) and the panning is a little bit harder the longer the lens. Not tack sharp, not that happy.

PhotoOf course it rained (a little).  There was a mountain bike race on after all.

PhotoInternet sensation Dave McMillan. Check out Dave's video here

PhotoHere he is. Troy is just so damn fast at the moment and his style is something you have to see in the flesh. Super light, tucks like Nico every chance he gets, and pedals like a freak. Very cool to watch.

PhotoDorky I know but I was bored. Thanks for checking these out and next time you go shoot some photos, take a risk and see what happens. Failure is often the best means of education.

Do you have mountain bike photos to share? Upload them to Vital MTB.

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