Making of: A photoshoot
OK, if you can’t conjure it up in your mind, let me assist.
I sat at my desk as rain pelted off the window for the who-knows-how-many straight day.
Our first bike with its Select Group, a nifty Sky BlueÂ Sparkle New World Tourist with licorice red cable housing and red decals that I’ve previously spoken about, leaned against a pole in the office, mocking me.
The calendar said it was the dead of winter, yet an ad to appear in Adventure Cycling magazine in the midst of spring had a deadline looming.
The simple facts were this: We needed a photo of the New World Tourist with the Select Group. Not a bike on white photo from the studio. A real bike in the great outdoors photo.
And, the weather forecasters were calling for an appearance of the sun on Friday.
One of the beauty secrets of Eugene, as opposed to, say, Seattle, is that, yes, it rains here in the winter. But it feels as though just about every day there is a momentary sun break. The sun peeks out just long enough for everyone to realize it’s still there. The universe is right.
But when the forecasters start talking bravado, that sun is coming, well, it grabs your attention.
So I made a secret plan. If it really is sunny on Friday, I’m busting a move. To get a photo.
Still the new guy, I wasn’t sure how that might come across. Bolting at noon, the first sunny noon in ages, without planning on getting back to the office anytime before Monday.
I gave our General Manager, Hanna Scholz, my pitch. She approved.
The real countdown began.
It was already past noon. I needed to rush home and grab camera equipment, not to mention my Black Lab, Ridgely. She’s my photo assistant, so to speak.
Then it was a drive into the mountains for some scenery.
What says early spring better for the real adventure cyclists than snow?
Our neat new colors against some bright white snow? Sounds good to me. How high must I go into the mountains before snow takes over?
My goal was about an hour up Highway 126, heading out of Eugene.
Anyone who has been out here and ridden the legendary McKenzie River Trail knows the highway. Plenty of scenic shot possibilities there.
If the snow hadn’t gotten high enough, maybe, just maybe, I could swing all the way to Clear Lake.
Getting down to the lake on snowy roads could be tricky. But we gotta try, Ridgely, we gotta try.
About an hour later,Â I realize in my haste to pull this off, I forgot one important detail: I might not have enough gas to get to Clear Lake and back to the gas station in Rainbow.
That’s when I realized another key factor:Â Gas might be the least of my worries.
Yo, in case you never noticed, it gets dark early in the winter. Really early.
I wanted to get some evening light. Soft light. Maybe even sunset.
Reality, however, is that I needed light. Any light.
As I charged the final miles to Clear Lake, the shadows got longer and longer and longer. I pretty much figured that any stop for gas, even a splash, might leave me in the dark. Explain that to Hanna on Monday!
I rolled into the parking lot in time to see some decent sun sparkling off the lake.
Maybe, just maybe, this will work.
I wanted a snow shot, but not too snowy. Truth was, I had about 15 minutes of perfect light.
So now you can get back to using your imagination.
Picture me running through knee-deep snow, with my assistant bounding around like a new-born puppy. Ah, there’s some pristine snow. Yikes, there goes Ridgely. So much for untouched snow.
The temperature kept falling steadily from 40 degrees when I parked, yet sweat poured from every possible source.
The beauty of digital cameras, so they say, is knowing immediately whether or not you nailed the photo.
Talk about pressure. Come on. Work with me.
I finally got the photo that had been haunting my subconscious the entire ride up.
“There’s no one in the shot!”
She’s right, footprints, but no feet.
With the sun sinking fast, the ultimate challenge arose. I’ve got two living models for a shot of someone with a heartbeat, and only one can take a photo. Time for a timer.
Ever try to set up a timer on a tripod in snow?
Now imagine doing it without the tripod. And about 5 minutes to spare.
Still, I got something.
Then I tried one more. With my assistant. In the nick of time.