Mt. Hamilton Classic – Race Photography

Not much to say about this one. Mt. Hamilton is a favorite climb; 4,200 feet from the Easter Edge of San Jose. The race goes over the top spirals down a technical descent on the other side and then winds it way through the remote backcountry along Mines Road to Livermore. Sunday I drove up early. The valley was shrouded in low lying cloud but that disappeared half way up, replaced by clear blue sky and bright sun. I scouted a good hairpin a mile below the summit. It had a clear view down the valley so I could see the racers approaching, and plenty of angles coming and going. When the pro field arrived it was Bissell Pro Paul Mach off the front. He ended up 2nd on the day, bested by teammate Andy Jacques Maynes (Benjamin Jacques Maynes finished 4th). A good day for Bissell.

Here are the photographic results. Click any of the images to view the gallery of selects. Update: Here's the large gallery of roughs. If you did the race you might be in there.

Snaking up to the KOM Opening a gap Racing Layer Cake gallery

19 Responses to Mt. Hamilton Classic – Race Photography

  1. Dave Wyman says:

    More great photography – thanks!

  2. Tim says:

    Stunning shots !!!!

    As usual I have to say….

  3. Great photos as always. Your photos are inspiring. Thanks for sharing them.

  4. Thanks guys, I’m working at it. Humbled by how hard it is to capture a truly great cycling picture. So many variables at odds with each other.

  5. Greg says:

    I’d say you’re on to something. I’m loving the shadow in the second picture.

    Nice work!

  6. BR says:

    Great pics…thanks M.

  7. Dave Wyman says:

    I especially like the minimum DOF in the second photograph on this page. I don’t know if you used a large aperture and/or a long lens and/or post-processing, but the rider almost seems to by cycling out of the photo!

  8. Veeral says:

    I really like your shots where its more landscape centric, i.e. the last one. It’s not an everyday opportunity to see riders traversing down the hill the way you have captured it.

    Also I have taken some of your b&w insipration and applied it to some of my own work recently and I have to say it looks awesome. Yet I still have heaps to learn about it.

    I do enjoy looking at your work because it teaches me alot. Plus I now I have the 85mm f1.2L lens envy as well ;-)

    Looking forward to your next round of photos.

    • Thanks Veeral. I only wish the AF on my 85mm f1.2 was fast enough to shoot cycling predictably. This time out I was shooting with my 300mm f4, 50mm f1.4, 16-35mm f2.8 and 100mm f2.8. If Canon is listening, we need a new lens to shoot cycling. Take the 50mm f1.2 or the 85mm f1.2 give it super fast AF like the 300mm f2.8 or 400mm f2.8 and IS for shooting in deep shaded hills and I’d pay just about anything. The shortest lens with the aperture, AF and IS is the 200mm f2. It’s twice as long as I’d like and even longer on a 1.3 factor sensor (1D) but it’s the best option for tight groupings and individual shots.

      • Veeral says:

        I think Canon is clever they want you to shell out for the 200mmf2. :) Have you seen the ebay prices for the 200mm f1.8 ???

        You certainly carried alot of gear for this shoot. Personally, I have two choices 1D2N + 500mmf4 & 70-200mmf2.8 or 1D2N + 70-200mmf2.8 & 17-40mm f4.

        For me 70-200mm is my workhorse, simply the most versatile lens in my kit. I can use it from the motorbike no problem and the IS does come handy as well. For shooting crits, the 500mmf4 is sensational, the bokeh just makes me cream my pants.

        Lets see what Canon is bringing out with the 1DMK4, hopefully no leaky oil lol!!!!

        • Yes, those folks at Canon have me on a short leash. By all accounts the 200 f2 is a better all-round performer than its f1.8 predecessor (which weighed about 1.5 lbs more into the bargain), both may represent the pinnacle of Canon lens production. As you point out, the f1.8 continues to command astronomical prices because there’s nothing else like it. I’m not one to worry about changing lenses over dust concerns, but I might end up having a dedicated body for the 200mm f2 and never take it off.

          I agree about the 70-200. Don’t own it myself, but I’ve rented it numerous times and for my newspaper photographer brother it’s his bread and butter.

          That oily mess recall had me conjuring up images of some newby Canon technician using a spray bottle inside the chamber. Or maybe a robot got the wrong programming instructions.

  9. Dave Wyman says:

    Since I need money to feed my Rapha addiction, my longest lens – 400mm – is only f/5.6. Yet, teemed with the smaller sensor on my Nikon D300, I can blur out the background when I think it’s called for, while keeping the rider in sharp focus.

    When I’m on the bike, the only camera I am willing to carry is a Panasonic Lumix TZ5. (An example of what can be done with my little digicam is here: http://www.pbase.com/image/111431879). It has a sharp lens and a huge zoom range, equivalent to 24-280mm on a full-frame camera.

  10. vectorbug says:

    Have you ever done the Leesvile Gap? I did it in high school about 10 years ago. Cramped terribly with shoes that were 42 when they should have been 46 and didn’t finish. It pretty much killed my interest in every way in cycling for a few years – but that was a long time ago. What a beautifully hellish race.

    • Grayson,

      I haven’t done Leesville Gap, but have heard of it. Killer roads, gravel, multiple flats etc. Might be fun to ride some time in non-race mode. I might photograph the race this year if I’m around.

      thanks for tuning in.

  11. christopher says:

    fantastic as usual. keep ‘em coming.

  12. Stark shadows, desaturation, flowing lines – beautiful work! The last shot is awesome. I’m cycling Mt. Hamilton on Sunday w/ a friend, who’s running it, and your shots give me ideas on how to photograph our little training day.