Next up in our series wrapping up 2018 is from Matt Rousu – who’s roamed the world in 2018 in search of some epic photos…

2018 turned out to be a pretty epic year for me. I was able to travel extensively around Victoria and lucky enough to fly overseas to both Canada in August and Switzerland in September. The basis of all of this travel was to cover mountain bike races and events with a few interviews thrown in as well.
Below are 8 of my photographs from 2018 which all have some form of story to tell. I’ll tell each story as the year unfolded…

1: Mik Hannah during qualifying at the 2018 National Champs.

Bright is well known to have some pretty epic afternoon dusty #lightbro and qualifying for the elite classes on Saturday delivers year after year. In many respects it’s awesome to have champs back in Bright again but it can get a little ‘old’ shooting the same track every season. The track itself is
really good though, steep, rough and tech and it seems to get a little harder every year. As bikes get better, tracks get harder and our photographic gear gets crisper and our techniques evolve to bring new life to such an overshot venue. I really enjoy shooting at Bright and I love that all the top riders and photographers come out as well, it feels like a mini world cup where we all catch up and have a great time (including the crazy long days of shooting and nights of editing). Can’t wait to catch up with everyone again in 2019!
Technically it’s a pretty straight forward shot, I try to under exposose the rider knowing that he might create a super bright dust cloud to reflect the light around it, focussing can be tricky here as the camera will try to follow the brightest part of the frame but I always use spot focus to track the
rider.

2: Dean Lucas Gutted after crashing in his National Champs race run.

My money was on Dean to win this years National Champs, constantly cutting laps with Jack Moir he would qualify first and be the last person down the hill on Sunday. Apparently he was on a heater run but came unstuck in one of the steep chutes and snapped his seat post in the process.
The finish corral is usually pretty hectic after the last rider finishes, all the photogs run in to try and capture the raw emotions of what has gone down, luckily I was able to sneak under the arm of Nick Waygood to shoot this fraction of a second where Dean realises ‘what could have been.’
2019 is yours mate!
Technically the only thing I was aiming for was a shallow depth of field so that Dean was the only thing in focus. This heightens the effect of him being inside his own mind at that point in time.

3: The Boys.

Dave Ludenia, Chris Panozzo and Ben Mcilroy charging down an off-camber alpine slope at Mach 10 was one of the highlights of the Aussie Summer. It was captured at Bike Buller and was the start of a 35 min run down the Delatite trail from the Summit. These boys had just finished an epic day out racing 8 stages of the Enduro before riding back up to the Summit for this event. I’d missed them on the last stage of the Enduro (which comes down this same section) but Chris texted me saying they were just about to drop in together, It was lucky he messaged me as it was
3pm and I was about to leave. They were the absolute last people to start and I’m super happy I saw them come through as it was just smiles and laughter the whole time. It’s always good to be able to contact riders during the events.

4: Lee.

One photo that’s not all about racing is this shot of my brother Lee.
We used to do this sort of shoot all the time back when we rode BMX, but it became a lot harder when we got into the big bikes. Having to haul all the gear up into the bush instead of getting it out of the car at the skatepark or dirt jumps. Fortunately this idea has inspired me to try and capture more of this sort of style in 2019.
Now when it comes to lights/strobes/flashes I’m pretty ghetto and I kind of like it that way, I didn’t use any timers/slaves/remotes to capture this shot, which I’m sure makes it harder but also a lot more fun I think. I enjoy trying to capture everything in one frame instead of taking a bunch of
photos and combining them together in Photoshop.
The little lights on the ground are cheap battery light bulbs and the big light is my battery operated tradie light, these were the only lights Lee had to see the trail with (believe me, it wasn’t much).
I ran along the trail with my little 20 year old piece of crap flash to freeze Lee over the jump in the background and then freeze flash him again down in front at the berm, we had 30 seconds to do this so it involved a bit of running/pausing/running.
I like the shot, but I think this winter I will get some more lights and a maybe a helper or two along to really light the place up.

5: Danny Hart MSA.

Mont Sainte Anne is one of my favourite places to shoot, sure it doesn’t have the amazing mountain views like the Alps but the track there is just rad. It’s so cool to see the riders go 70km/hr down a loose rocky ski slope and then have the braking control to enter this new section of track called La Tarzan. Now throw in that it’ll probably piss down rain at some stage and you’ve got an amazing show to witness. To be at a World Cup in itself is amazing, but to be an official photographer and see Danny Hart ride through this crazy tech section in the pouring rain is just pure joy. If you do get the chance to go to MSA in 2019 be sure to bring your wet weather gear (see you there!)
Technically I would have liked to shoot this at a higher shutter speed (it was at 1/640) to sharpen the rain a fraction but it was so dark in the forest to push it much faster. I could have upped the ISO but I really don’t like shooting above 2000 in case I really need to.

6: Loic Hi5s a dog!

If you think that trying to capture the Nationals finish corral is hectic, just multiply that by about 50 more photographers and RedBull TV cameras with live stream cables. It’s just bedlam and I love it. Us media squids are really lucky to be able to run into the corral and capture these moments of
victory but you are on full auto pilot too. The camera is going a million miles an hour, other photogs are scrumming beside/around/underneath you and you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of it. I love racing and nothing compares to those moments in time but sometimes some random person will hold their dog up to give Loic a Hi5 just after he has won a World Cup.
It’s strange but also unexpectedly awesome.
Technically I always switch to Auto for these crazy finish line scrums, there’s no way you’ll get time to adjust your camera in these moments. Keep looking through the view-finder though, holding
your camera up and spraying rarely gets a good result.

7: Rachel tears up.

I was super lucky to head to Lenzerheide, Switzerland for the MTB World Champs in 2018 to shoot for Australian Mountain Bike Mag and once again having special media access is a real privilege for us photo squids. One of the highlights was photographing Rachel Atherton for a few days and seeing her go through the ups and downs of a World Champs week. It all culminated with an all-or-nothing race run which was one of the best runs in World Champs history. The crowd was going ballistic for her after she won and it was such a great reward for the living legend. At the medal presentations it finally dawned on Rachel what she had accomplished after a really tough couple of seasons. As I was taking this photo it was super hard not to start crying myself and I feel really lucky to be apart of moments like these on the World Cup circuit! You can
read more about my World Champs experience here: https://www.ambmag.com.au/feature/mtbphotography—a-closer-look-at-world-champs-513451/page0


8: Ben Mcilroy Roost.

Not your typical day in the office. For 2 years in a row I’ve been lucky enough to shoot the McKayos, a mass start snow/dirt race at Falls Creek. The day prior to the race we get to go out in the resort with our bikes and do some promotion to hype the event up, it’s always a really fun time hanging out with friends and doing something that you rarely see here in Australia. I know I keep saying it but I’m just super grateful for all of these opportunities and I can’t wait to share many more awesome experiences in 2019.

To finish off, here’s Matt’s slideshow with many more photos from the year


Cheers for reading.
Matt Rousu