My friend David Trimble’s famed Redhook Crit cycling race was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Saturday night. I knew some riders so I went to spectate and take a few photos. It was a beautiful night and just about every able-bodied cyclist in the city showed up to race or watch.
Two of the favorites to win were brothers Evan and Kyle Murphy whom I’ve known for a while. They’re artists who live and work in NYC and are also fantastic cyclists. I like taking photos of friends at events. It’s tough for people to get photos of themselves at races/ceremonies and I love to facilitate that.
I knew it was a night race and I intentionally left my flash at home—I love shooting in the dark without a flash. I brought a wide lens and 50/1.4. There was considerable press coverage so I wasn’t too interested in filling my cards with action shots. I just wanted a few of my friends.
My goal was to capture the feel and setting of the race. It started a few years ago as a bunch of bike messengers doing unsanctioned alley cat races around town. It’s now one of the premier fixed-gear races in the world. The post-industrial backdrop of the course was breathtaking—rusty cranes, abandoned buildings and the NYC skyline across the river.
The only photo I really wanted was one with the field of riders racing past the skyline. This proved difficult because I forgot my tripod and there isn’t a great view of NY anywhere on the course. I found an OK spot in a parking lot. I climbed on a parked car and rested my camera on its roof. I tried a bunch of different exposures but couldn’t quite get the money-shot. I gave up and headed for the finish.
It wasn’t until I got home that I saw the photo. One of my exposures captured another photographer’s flash and gave me almost the perfect shot. (Had his flash fired at the end of my exposure, the motion blur would have been behind the riders.) I was very pleased with the result.
It was a fun night. It was a challenge shooting in the dark but I came out with photos I really like. I made a print for the Brothers Murphy and they were stoked to have some shots from the race.