Rolling with 15

On the road

As the road rises the smile broadens.  A beautiful morning in Strathspey last weekend and oh what a coincidence. My road bike just happened to find it’s way onto the bike rack alongside the family menagerie of bikes. Fancied a bit climbing, so headed towards #67 in the official 100 climbs. Cairngorm.  Continue reading “Rolling with 15”

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Fallen Hero’s- Why I Rode Ventoux

I began to love cyling as a teenager when I borrowed my Cousin’s bike and cycle all around the Village where I lived. But the real change for me was when I went into ‘The Bike Shop’ in Falkirk in 1986 and looked up at all the bright colours and chrome that glinted in the sun. In those days there was no aluminium and carbon fibre, it was steel and soldered lugs that defined the quality of a bike.

Continue reading “Fallen Hero’s- Why I Rode Ventoux”

Photography and Cycling with Tom Main

Photography and Cycling- A Q&A with Professional Photographer Tom Main

Thomas MainLet us introduce you to our friend Tom Main.  Tom is a former award winning Sport & Editorial photographer who previously worked for major publications such as The Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Mirror and The News of the World.  Now he is primarily focused on his passion of large format film and platinum printing.  Ohh and how could we forget! He is also a dab hand at cycling photography and a little bit of film making to boot.

So without further ado, here is our  Q & A with Tom. Questions posed By Daz.  Enjoy

BCR: Tell us a little about your life in Sports Photography.

TM: I started shooting rugby for The Sunday Times office in Glasgow in 1992 with a bit of football and then cricket in the summer season. I was then asked to go to cover SPL and 1st Division football for the News of the World 1993 as the No3 photographer and at the time there were only three football match reports with photographs so it was always Rangers, Celtic and some other team ! So I managed to cover grounds in Scotland from Stair Park Stranraer in the south to Forres Mechanics at Mosset Park on the Moray coast.

By the time SCORE the football pull-out in the NOTW was launched a few personnel changes had taken place and I was first choice for sport and was covering it all; football, rugby, golf, boxing, swimming, anything with exertion and I was there.

At the turn of the century I was in a position to supply my work to other newspapers through the contacts I’d made so my work was now being published the UK’s broadsheet and tabloid papers. This goes back to being freelance and making contacts in the sporting world allowing me the opportunities to create work that the papers would want especially in sports that generally had to battle to get coverage.

There were lots of great photographic experiences along the way that unfortunately haven’t made it to my thomasmain.com website like; Amir Khan KO in 30 seconds to Bredis Prescott, glove on jaw, back page of the News of the World. Tiger Woods on the front page of the Telegraph Sport or Scotland’s former rugby coach Andy Robinson in the Guardian. Generating my own style of portrait and getting to know what certain papers wanted I could create jobs that would be published and that was the essence of a freelance photographer.

“Winning and award is like peeing down your leg with black trousers on, you feel all warm and nobody notices!”

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BCR:    When did you move away from Freelance/Editorial and how did this change your outlook and approach to your own projects?

TM: I was always a freelancer, which looking back now, wasn’t so bad overall, as I still had control over what & when I wanted to shoot. In saying that I’d shoot any sport at any level at anytime, as I still enjoyed the challenge, but as the old adage goes at a few football  grounds when the floodlights came on….it got darker! I remember being at Firhill, home of Partick Thistle, and my camera had a broken light meter, so  going into the second half the floodlights came on and I whipped out my hand held light meter only to hear “you don’t need that to tell you it’s dark!” from one of the other photographers to a few guffaws all round.

Rupert Murdoch killed my career but he did give me the opportunity to go and create work away from digital cameras,  great tools for professional work but a double edged sword nonetheless with the market flooded with images. I now work almost exclusively with black & white film, silver gelatin prints, platinum palladium prints and….. shhh ! digital prints. I’m not anti-digital but I have used it enough to want to go back to what I enjoy and thankfully I kept my darkroom equipment through this digital period and found it easy to go and shoot manually with a hand held light meter again. After finding work outside journalism any free time I now have could be devoted to the ideas and projects I put on the back burner over the last few years.

People need to experience the satisfaction and enjoyment of producing a photographic print without the use of a computer or digital camera,

BCR:  Tells us about your current cycling project(S)  

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TM: My work at the moment is looking more at the aesthetic of the print that is expressionistic with the movement and texture.

So over the last six or seven months I’ve been shooting cycling action which is a perfect subject as the cyclist brings the effort and drama that I’m looking for. To add to the action photographs I’ve also collected various damaged bike parts to photograph in a still life set up and trying to get a delaminated tyre to look interesting is difficult ! Beyond the still image I’ve also started a video project involving my son Ellis and hopefully some additional riders in the future. This one goes back to my professional sports work where I want to shoot video on longer lenses in order to compress or foreshorten the perspective so that I can concentrate on the rider in detail. This is challenging as I haven’t had a great deal of experience with video and it’s a different way of thinking and planning your shots, though it is nice to see a moving image with the same look as my sports photographs.

Cyclist

BCR:  Any current or past Cycling photographers who’s work you enjoy?

TM:Before I mention any photographers this is a link to a Henri Lartigue photograph that sent me down the road of my current cycling project. I’m not looking to recreate this image with cyclists but it is the source of inspiration. Not bad for a photograph over 100 years old to still be so stimulating. Back to inspirational photographers. I really don’t have specific cycling photographers in mind though I do like Thomas Van Brecht’s work for Pelotonphotos. Though there are too many photographers to mention that have had an effect on my work in one way or another however I will mention Chris Smith from the Sunday Times and Eamonn McCabe from The Observer both of whom were a big influence on my sports work when I was learning. Albert Watson’s

photographs for Rolling Stone magazine were another big influence on my work, though on the portrait side, his attention to detail is incredible and the photographs timeless.

BCR: What equipment do you use and what does it give you over digital.

TM: Did I say I get to push boundaries? Shooting sport with a Fuji GX617 panoramic camera or a 5″x 4″ Field camera is interestingly difficult and can yield results not to everyone’s tastes, but that’s life at the edge of the frame. After years of striving for pin sharp, peak of the action photographs, I am now interested in building up layers of texture and movement with multiple exposures or one second long, panned shots. Even my still life photographs are challenging as I’m not satisfied just to sit a 1kg stud bolt down to be photographed, I need to make it float ! One of the reasons for shooting with film is that everything has to be done in camera when working with silver gelatin prints.  A very small amount of computer work is required for Platinum Palladium printing. I’ve never found any enjoyment in manipulating images to the extent of adding or removing parts of the image. If something exists and you don’t want it in your photograph then you have to work to find a composition that removes the object from the scene, that’s part of the enjoyment of photography. Adding and subtracting in Photoshop is lazy, it’s not enhancement, it’s just something else you let a computer do. People need to experience the satisfaction and enjoyment of producing a photographic print without the use of a computer or digital camera,

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BCR:  What is it you look for in setting up and creating your pieces?

TM: The first thing that draws me to a subject is tone followed quickly by texture and that tells me if the subject will photograph well in black and white. Next consideration is the composition, whether or not the subject sits in the frame correctly, bearing in mind that I use the full frame of the negative for the final print, as I don’t crop my current photographs, just to make things a little more challenging. Also,  to make it really interesting the location for the best picture always seems to be three feet over the edge or where security tell you where you can’t be or when someone tells you it can’t be done. The best spot never seems to be where I’m standing.

I like pushing boundaries. I like to push my photographic self.

BCR:  Talk us through your process of creating how you make your subject matters appear to float…P.S. Can you make a Cyclist float?  I floated once on the bike, but it didn’t have a happy ending for me!

TM: I don’t think you’d want me to make you float, I don’t do instant gratification, I like the pain, suffering and elation involved with creating the initial visualisation from scratch through to the final realisation in print or,  in order to stay in the present, digitally on my website. All of my still life photographs where the subject is floating is done in the studio not in Photoshop and it then requires a level of technical still to light the subject in order to make the photograph believable and subtle. It would be a dawdle in Photoshop, but where’s the ‘fun’ in that? Generally once I’ve shot the photographs I spend an evening developing either the rolls of film or, in the case of large format, the single sheets of 5″x4″ film. Netflix on my phone evens out the tediousness of repeat processing film. Once the film has dried overnight I’ll scan the photographs and make adjustments to the levels and spot out any dust on the negatives. Once they digital images are ready I’ll either produce a digital Pigment Ink print straight from my Epson P600 printer or I’ll prepare a larger negative printed from the same printer but used as part of a contact print to make a Platinum & Palladium photograph. Platinum printing is too involved to explain it here though I have some examples on my twitter feed @thomas_main or use Google as there are plenty of examples out there.

BCR:  What is your favourite memory or experience from your time  in the field as freelance sport and more recently in your non digital world?

TM: To name one I would think winning the Sports Photographer of the Year three times at the Scottish Press Awards, though the quote from the guest of honour doing the presentations burst any bubbles, “Winning and award is like peeing down your leg with black trousers on, you feel all warm and nobody notices!”  Even just being nominated is enough vindication that you’re doing something right. In the non-digital world the best experience is seeing the finished print just as you imagined it would be before you had even pressed the shutter. Nothing beats that!

BCR: What is one of the most important things you have learned in your life of photography.

THE most important thing I learned is that no matter how worked up or upset you are, never burn your bridges. Before you get to that point remember you are not more important than your subject no matter who they are.

I did burn my bridges once before I left the industry though it was building up for a few years and I still haven’t regretted it, so probably recognising any source of irritation and avoiding it’s influence would be a good piece of advice.

BCR: Your on a field trip. One album, one book and one alcoholic beverage to fire up the creative juices?

TM: ALBUM: Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway BOOK: Hunter S Thompson – The Rum Diary. BEVERAGE: Jack Daniels & Coke

Huge thanks for Tom for giving us little glimpse into his life and passions.  If you would like to see more of Tom’s creations head to

WEB:

thomasmain.net

thomasmain.com

Tom’s social media weapon of choice is Twitter follow him at TW: @thomas_main   and tmainphoto for Instagram

Happy Rolling

Daz

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Photo by Tom Main

Rolling with 12

On the road

I recently got my “summer” bike back from a custom paint job. Big cheers to Magnafibre Alloa for a great job and Michael from Alloa Cycle repairs for the rebuild(more to follow on another post). It’s not been on the road since October but It hasn’t taken me long to fall back in love with it’s airy, slammed curves.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve totally grown to enjoy the comfort and rather more relaxed riding position of my recently acquired Titanium winter freedom machine, but the fun factor? Well it’s just no where near as nimble, responsive or quick on the flats and descents as my Specialized Tarmac.   Thus with the belting weather I’ve been getting out as often as I can.  Of which, I’ve been particularly liking the morning summer commutes.   When I can get my arse out of bed early enough, i’ll head east (instead of north) to take an extended commute on as big an anti clockwise curve to work, as time allows. Riding into the rising sun with sweeping views of the Firth of Forth, whilst central Scotland rouses from it’s Golden slumber’s has a certain buzz to it.  Particularly on colder mornings where the fields, gardens and Golf courses sparkle like glistening gold waves as the sun liberates the early morning dew and occasional frost. STUNNING, see the photo slide show below. On days like these I Just want to keep pedalling, Keep  pushing that anti clockwise curve left like a freaky cycling Zoolander.  Needs must though. Bills need paying and wine needs a tasting, so  eventually a turn to the right and dismount is required.

We also recently rode the Aviemore 100 but that story will come in separate blog.

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Listening to

I’ve been making up playlist’s for my page on Spotify,  some new tunes of my own to follow. But hears a sneak listen to my June list

Reading.

War of Art – Steven Pressfield. This is a yearly re-read for me

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Story goes like this. Towards the end of 2016 the missus and I planned a ‘romantic’ weekend break to the south of Spain. Two parts romance, one part decompress after one of the most intense work and family periods we had navigated.

On this journey of romance, partying,  inevitable soul mining and long deep conversations over Pintxo’s and Vino came an epiphanal moment .  The understanding that there is an aspect of being that’s helped keep me sane through the intense preceding months; an escape vehicle seldom seen but one in which I could dive like Bonds Lotus Esprit in Octopussy ( Rarely do i surface to a vessel full of sea sirens though).  That vehicle for me, is creativity & playing.   It keeps  me squared up, when all the outside and inner  forces are trying tae form a hexagon .  Yet until recently (<2years) I had been depriving myself, stopping myself, relying on the contribution of others for these artistic surges to come to life and thus the only thing that i was prolific in creating was frustration. Then the few times I did shake my own thing, I guarded it fiercely from the public eye, for reason’s I didn’t know why.

Anyway, whilst in the South of Spain (sans kids), we visited friends and Property Impresarios Leane & Graeme Carling at their new Villa in Fuengirola. That weekend they were putting the finishing touches to their own creative project.  Their first book ‘Property Superstars’. A book charting their rise from office jobs in Central Scotland to  becoming the largest Independent property dealers in Scotland.   Chapeau. Over one of the many bottles of wines that weekend, the chat was of inspiring books and I asked Graeme.  ” Read any good ones lately?”  His answer was almost a reflex, like an Andy Murray cross court return of serve it was so lightning quick.

”  Yes….it’s called War of Art.. Steven Pressfield, ammmmazing book, must read”   He asserted.

The book he referred to is written by Steven Pressfield  who’s fiction includes The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, The Afghan Campaign and The Lions Gate, but it is his non fiction work.   The war of Art, Turning Pro and Do the Work that have transcended into cult classics. .

War of Art It’s about turning the tables on yourself. It is succinct. Yes a self helpy book, although minus the woo woo bullshit philosophy of cast it to the universe and the universe will deliver.  This is more on the Stoic path.  No waiting for Muses and inspiration. Just start, do the work and you’ll find your flow, inspiration and at times Muse on the way.  As Graeme intimated a must read for anyone with creative urges, especially those that need a good boot up the arse to just get their shit done and out there, like I was.

>click Here to find out more

We spoke more of the central theme which can be captured in two lines from the book: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”  in other words the side projects, songs, books, pieces of art or even start up’s we want to do, but never get the finger out to do.

Instantly I was curious about this “resistance”.  Could resistance be the guarding, the denying, the delay in starting, the reliance on others, the annoyance at others reliance on me, that I was  all to frequently deferring to as an excuse against, getting shit done?……it was like a bomb going off in my head.  A collision course was now set with my earlier creative epiphany. Out came the phone and ordered it was and through the letter box  it lay when we arrived home. I devoured it in a couple of sitting’s.  With each page the self inflicted creative weight was lifting from my shoulders just like the morning dew off the grass of my summer commutes.  If it wasn’t for a combination of both book and epiphany,  you wouldn’t be reading this blog right know.  I would still be citing many excuses against creating that cycling blog idea, turning that melody into a tune, that Snowboarding movie.  I remember before we left that weekend saying to Leane.  ”  yi know I’ve always wanted to write a book”  My Tour of the highland series is essentially that.  A riders eye view at playing the endurance athlete for a three days.

Further reading are Steven Pressfields other cult classics on the creative topic.  These should be read in order listed below.

  1. >>War of Art
  2. >>Turning Pro
  3. >>Do the Work

There you go three book recommendations for the price of one



Drinking

I Latina Carménère

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 18.35.30This little beauty was corked last wine Wednesday in the Murray house.  I first tried this on our launch night at the Acoustic Cafe.  Danny of the Kennedy brought this along and splashes me a glass and when it came back in stock in his Naked Wine membership, the offer was made to grab a few and there was  no way I was declining.



Watching

We recently watched and recommend >>THE BIG SICK. A comedy loosely based on the real life relationship between comedian Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon and the cultural differences they faced in an interacial relationship.  Sounds shit, but is really gid.

Totally appealed to my sense of humour.  Check it out.

Get  Reading, drinking, Listening and Rolling…..Short life advice: Probably best do that in reverse order.

Daz

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Rolling with 8

ON THE BIKE

The cycling Gods have been against me so far this year. Due to an illness in Jan/Feb (much worse than just the normal man flu) and with all the crappy weather we have been experiencing, my motivation to get on the bike has been pretty poor. In preparation for being “match fit”, I took my CX apart to give it a good clean and soon discovered the hub was sounding like a tombola as Tank put it. £25 replaced and fitted the sealed unit. Continue reading “Rolling with 8”

Tour of The Highlands – Part 4

With  ‘Herman and the Hermits’ support band, ‘Fud and the Fuckwits’ trundling into the horizon, we can now relax. Play it as it lies, as we now head onto the next two climbs creatively titled on Strava; A839 climb 1 and A839 climb 2 . To the locals they are BH1 & BH2(Bloody Hard 1 & 2 by any chance?).  We are only starting to climb, but already I don’t think another change to FH1 & FH2 would be remiss, as we are brutally slapped by a 4-5 club wind on clearing the tree line.

Continue reading “Tour of The Highlands – Part 4”

Rolling with 4

THIS WEEK – Stu

On the Bike

If you’re the kind of chap who, like me, likes to get out on his bike regularly, the weathers been against us lately!

There’s been a few days’ window now and again but lately there’s been days on end of snow, ice, high winds, usually all at the same time!

I’m a bit wary of icy roads these days after earning a couple of broken ribs in 2016, going for it up the Snab Brae in Bo’ness! Continue reading “Rolling with 4”

Rolling with 3

THIS WEEK-Daz

On the bike

A couple of rides this week.  Both almost culminating in me puking.

First ride. Up Alpe D’huez on the BKOOL virtual simulator.  Quite a few bends on that eh? Got dizzy cycling in circles in ma man cave!!! Almost fell into the wardrobe at one point . I wonder if I did? would i come oot o it a cyclist? Still faking it till I make it(there) though.

The second ride was suffering in the pissing rain on a cold Saturday morning afternoon, with a belter of  hangover. ( I had tae pick up my van at Croy train station. 17 miles away.). All seemed liked a great plan the day before!!

Continue reading “Rolling with 3”

Tour of The Highlands – PART 3

Morning sun streams through the bathroom window,  casting a naked alien like shadow against the wall.  I’m stood in the bath tub and ready to shock my system with some cold exposure therapy i.e. an icy cold shower.

Five minutes earlier I had awoken, stock still and anxious to see how my body had recovered from yesterday’s exertions.  A quick body scan later and the news was good, not great…just good.  It doesn’t feel ma own. Aye, It’s stiff and aching, but it’s a good ache and it feels better, even a little bit stronger. Although that could still be the after effects of last nights Peroni’s right enough! Continue reading “Tour of The Highlands – PART 3”

Tour of The Highlands -Part 2

 

PART 2

Stu checks his “Well I’m fucked then, I’m banging oot 187BPM ” he blurts oot with sweat cascading fae his chin. Wish I had kept ma masterplan stoom now!  Anyway it has landed and he’s slowing. I don’t know whether it’s deliberate or psychosomatic.  Not wanting tae upset the climbing rhythm I’ve got going, I start tae slowly edge away fae him.  We turn a corner and the Lawers Dam comes into full view, but just as it does I see a photographer hunkered down beside a big rock, with a long range lens pointing doon the road towards us.  Fuck knows what happens, but a switch in ma head is flicked and I come over all Berty Contador. Springing up out the saddle, shifting up a few gears. In ma mind I’m like a gazelle, prancing across the Savanah. A vision of poetry in motion. In reality, nowhere near it, probably look more like Dan Martin, putting a fire out with his feet, whilst chewing a highland toffee! Never did see that photo. Continue reading “Tour of The Highlands -Part 2”

Tour of The Highlands – Part 1

Day 1 Part 1  INTRODUCTION  CLICK HERE

wee burl

It’s 5am on a Saturday at the end of May and we find ourselves in a Wig-Wam in the Trossachs.

My phone is playing a piano arpeggio. It’s cheesy but better than those needle to the eyeball beeps of the default alarm.

I bolt upright, Frankenstein like.

It’s here, day one of the Tour of the Highlands.

My hand pads the bed to find my phone.   I thumb the home button and stop the alarm.
It’s been a shit night’s sleep; tossing and turning all night long in this Wig-Wam/sauna. I am half-baked with excitement, half seared by the heat. I remember being fully compes mentis since four am. At least that is when the cockerel started cocka-doodle-f*****g-doing. Continue reading “Tour of The Highlands – Part 1”

Ride To The Sun

019Sportives and mass-participation events are ubiquitous these days. Pick any weekend between April and October and you’ll have an innumerable choice of organised events at which to indulge your passion for turning pedals.
The ubiquity, and increasingly monetised nature of much of these events leave some looking for something a bit different, though.
It’s this search for something different that now has me pinging through deepest Midlothian, at 20mph……at 1 in the morning! Continue reading “Ride To The Sun”

Rolling with 1

On the bike

Getting back  intae the fitness malarkey after the New year. Weathers not been conducive tae enjoyable cycling just now, so it’s been 2 “Virtual” rides on the turbo trainer and 2 lunchtime runs  this week.

Highlight being a virtual ride up the Majorcan bucket lister  ‘Sa Colobra’ climb on BKool simulator.  Almost got wiped out by a bus aswell or should I say , whoever filmed the footage almost did. Continue reading “Rolling with 1”