Posted in Cycle and tagged behind-the-lens

Brian Dukes is a new addition to the Wiggle team and like most of us, he's a keen cyclist - #goodstuff. One cool thing we learned about Brian is his passion for photography - we decided to delve deeper and find out a bit more about this Wiggler behind the lens ....

Brian Dukes Q&A

Who is Brian Dukes?

A 48 year old father of two, originally from the West Midlands, but moved to Hampshire 16 years ago and to the South Coast around 14 years ago.

I've worked in software development for just over 30 years now, so I've seen quite a number of changes in technology.

Interests beyond work include, photography, cycling, motorcycling and playing squash - though sometimes getting motivated for exercise can prove to be more of a challenge these days!

 Brian Dukes

What does mountain biking mean to you?

Predominately mountain biking means my son to me - he is the mountain biker of the family, competing in downhill races and helping friends and colleagues with their riding, whilst building his page on PinkBike.

 Brian Dukes

For my own riding, I own a Cube Ltd Edition cross-country bike, and the only time I have taken it downhill at the Queen Elizabeth country park, it ended in disaster, very quickly .. and several hours in hospital waiting for my inside lip to be stitched back together - not a pretty site, but if you're ever fortunate to find the video, a giggle is guaranteed.

So these days my own riding is kept relatively flat and usually 20-25 mile ride-outs.  I'm also a keen motorcyclist so that will often occupy any other spare time!

What do you do at Wiggle?

At Wiggle I'm the Team Lead for the BAU Small Change Team, as a team we deal with emergency situations that require development resource along with performing changes (bug fixes and enhancements) to Wiggle's systems and website.   Each day is very varied, and given the huge technological landscape at Wiggle there is always something new to learn.

 Brian Dukes

How would you describe the culture at Wiggle?

In one word 'evolving', in two words 'constantly evolving' - and this is a great thing for a company growing so rapidly. There are a huge bunch of incredibly talented people helping Wiggle be a success, and I feel incredibly grateful to be a small part of that.

How did you get started in photography?

I actually briefly gained an interest in photography around the age of 16 when my grandad gave me his old Zenit 35mm SLR - no idea how to use it or what to shoot, most rolls of film came out under/over-exposed!

Around 2006 I bought my first digital camera, a very low-resolution Minolta - it wasn't a great camera but it kick-started my creative side.   By 2011 I bought my first dSLR, a Canon EOS500D and from there my passion for photography grew before moving on to my first full-frame dSLR about 18 months ago.

 Brian Dukes

What creative influences have shaped your style?

Photographically, I love black and white.  Indeed if you look at a lot of my Animal photography, most of it's in black and white.  I've tried black and white with mountain biking photography, it can work but it's much harder to shoot in a forest - colour is king here. 

So at the moment I'm still experimenting with styles for mountain biking photography, I am using a couple of techniques that really help the detail to pop in just the right areas, so I'm likely to try to refine these even further.

 Brian Dukes

How does mountain biking photography differ from other cycling disciplines?

As a photographer until fairly recently I have only photographed things that did not move much, still life, flowers, animals in zoos.  So my experience with cycling disciplines is a little limited.

Mountain biking photography came with huge amounts of support from my son, who not only as an accomplished rider, he's also experienced at recording video and has an interest in photography.  So my son was able to repeatedly go through a berm or over a jump, time and time again until I could dial in the right shot with the camera.

 Brian Dukes

Recently I photographed Tom Maisey (Wiggle staff member) who was evaluating an Eastway Cyclocross bike.  Tom asked if I wouldn't mind photographing him, of course he was happy to oblige.

Behind the lens

Making the CX bike look good in a stills image was hard,  trying to create drama in a shot (which would be so easy with a mountain bike) was more difficult - the terrain (Devil's Punchbowl / Hindhead) was steep and muddy.  Tom rode very well, and was very patient with me as I tried to find the right shot, and get the lights setup correctly.  Ultimately the most drama was found in a huge puddle - clichéd shot admittedly!

Let’s talk equipment: what are your tools of choice? 

  • Camera:  Canon EOS 6D,  variety of lens but usually  Canon EF 70-200 f4 L lens
  • Lights:  4x Yongnuo YN560iv Speedlights
  • 2x Elinchrom 40" Reflectors
  • Software:  Adobe CC  - Photoshop CC + Lightroom CC
  • Computer: Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15"

What is more powerful – video content or still photography?

With video it's far easier to tell a story, to add slo-mo's, to add music etc - mountain bike riding suits video very well - but for set-up shots I still find i'm able to make the rider & bike look good in a photograph.

 Brian Dukes

What have you got planned for 2016?

More mountain bike photography, preferably of some Wiggle riders - I'm pretty happy now with my lighting setups - would just like to produce more images.

Beyond mountain bike photography, my other passion is photographing animals, so it will be to continue my private-project work, more images of animals,  especially dogs - hone my studio lighting skills even further, and keep on learning and producing work.

 Brian Dukes