This past weekend I made my way up to the Bruce Peninsula to shoot some rock climbing at Lion’s Head. I had been wanting to shoot some climbing all summer but my mountain bike shoots keep me pretty busy. I had a few feelers out but this all came to fruition through my wife’s long time friend, Neville. He was going up there to climb with a few buds, Paul and Damian, and they were cool with me tagging along to capture the action. Sadly, Neville wasn’t able to make it but his two buds were still on.
I left Toronto at 6:00am in order to meet up with the guys for 10:00. It’s a beautiful drive and I made good time. It poured rain the whole way up and I was amazed that they weren’t calling it off. I liked these guys already! Once I made it to Lion’s Head, the rain had passed but it was still pretty wet and cold. Paul and Damian said that the conditions would not be ideal at Lion’s Head but that there was a nice overhang at White Bluff that would provide shelter and have dry rock to climb. Sign me up!
It was a short hike in along a polished stone beach to the spot. The bluffs were awesome and I could immediately see promising vantage points to shoot from. I had a few shots in mind. I knew that the shot I wanted to avoid was the butt shot from below. I wanted all my images to appear very natural, non-intrusive and as though I was right there on the rock with them. Paul and Damian are great climbers and once I got the hang of their rhythm and style I was pulling frames left and right. In keeping with my recent mantra to shoot more available light, I left the strobes in the bag and looked for the light. The light was pretty flat but I was able to get some nice bright shots nonetheless. I knew I could have got that extra pop I was after with the strobes but I resisted the urge. There must be a group or meeting I can attend that can help me I shot everything pretty much wide open between f/1.4 and f/2.8. I wanted a sharp subject surrounded by nice soft out of focus areas. I thought this made it look a bit more epic and suited the weather and light I was working with.
The next day we woke up to more rain and single digit temperatures. We decided to wait it out and have some breakfast at the local diner. The odd patch of blue sky rolled through but everywhere we looked seemed pretty dark and gloomy. We decided to go for it anyway and made our way to Lion’s Head. The 30-40 min hike in was beautiful. I was really hoping to snap a few fall colour shots on this shoot but unfortunately the areas the climbs are in are mostly surrounded with cedars. I’ll just have to get back up there I guess. Poor me!
I brought a harness along with me for this shoot. I though that, if I was brave enough, I would rappel down the wall to get the exact angle I was after. I didn’t have the stones to do it on this day but I did get tied off and got just over the edge which was enough for me to get what I was after. I actually had some really nice angles to work with.
The kinds of shots that I was after for this shoot were tight shots along side the climber that showed the tiny holds they were working with. Shots that were all about the grip and demonstrated their effort. I also wanted wider shots with more context and vistas. It is beautiful up there and the crystal blue water is something I was really hoping to incorporate into my images. It was raining and overcast for both days so I didn’t quite get the scenery I was after but I am very happy with the shots I got.
I had a great time shooting, camping and chilling by the camp fire with Paul and Damian. They are both solid climbers and fun to hang with. Thanks to Neville, Paul and Damian for the super fun shoot. Hope you guys like the shots.