Si Homfray and the road of many colours

21st Aug 2013

Way back in February I told you about a guy called Si Homfray who was running to and then climbing Everest. Back then he was putting the hours in on the road and designing various bits of kit that he would need for his journey. Si and I had gone out in a blizzard, not intentionally I might add, to take a few pics for promotional purposes. Six months later and just two weeks off his trip of a lifetime beginning, I had agreed to go back out with my friend of twenty plus years and take a few more images of him and his gear, this time for his sponsors. Like a lot of well laid plans, in fact not dissimilar to the last time we saw each other in february, the British weather decided not, to play ball. The day started well, warm with a slight breeze, overcast but manageable in a slightly dramatic way. Storm clouds brewed but seemed to keep their distance. We watched the weather, looked at various forecasts and finally headed out around six in the evening hoping for a little evening light that had been promised by the local BBC. We had an off-road trail in mind for the photos. A similar type of small sandy road that Si would be pounding out the miles on when he reached Eastern Europe. I'd decided to use flash, to add a little "kick" to what was fast becoming a very dull and overcast evening. 

We loaded our respective bags, Si on to his rather ingenious trailer, me on to my back and headed off down the track to look for a suitable spot. After about a 30min hike, we found a spot that we both liked. By now an evening mist was starting to descend and I was sure I could feel the occasional spot of unwelcome rain. My idea was to fire a small Nikon speedlight (SB900) through a Lastolite softbox just a couple of feet in front of and to one side of Si. Just enough light to give him a healthy glow. I'd also got a couple of SB800's which, If necessary I could place behind and to either side of Si to act as "Rim lights" should I need to separate him from the background a little. I set the camera on a tripod and looked through the viewfinder to check the composition, it looked good. I fired off a few frames to check just what kind of light I could expect without flash, the answer was pretty dull, so I started to set up the flash gear, which was obviously some sort of secret code aimed at the Weather Gods to unleash everything they had, and they did. We just managed to grab all the kit and throw it into various bags and sacs before it reached saturation point. For a moment we thought we might sit it out, but after just a few minutes we quickly realised it probably wasn't going to stop and legged it back to the Van.

I was pretty pissed, I really don't like failing to get a job done and Si really needed an official portrait he could use to publicise his trip. When I got home I downloaded the few "test shots" I had taken on to my desk top. They where dark and flat, but the composition was good and I really liked the fact the mist had come down and the badly potholed road had filled up with water from a previous rain storm - it all added drama. After opening and tweaking the RAW image in Hasselblads own software, Phocus, I realised it could be salvaged. Half an hour later, and after exporting the file as a 16bit tiff to Photoshop, I had an image that Si really liked. So if Si was happy so was I - at least for now! 

If your at all interested in what Si's doing his exploits can be followed on his own website, The road of many colours, which has a most excellent and witty blog on it and is well worth a read.