In the spring of 2007 we were just getting our new magazine Ride Oklahoma kicked off. Needing stories, I had heard about a great riding area owned by the City of Davis called Crossbar Ranch. Nestled in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains in south Central Oklahoma, Crossbar was known as some great single track riding.
I teamed up with writer Bill Dragoo to spend the day blasting along the trails. Our friend Chris Johnson from Lawton met us there, and ranch manager Brad Black would lead the group on his Kawasaki KDX-200. Knowing the ride was going to be challlenging single track with some wet water crossing, I chose to bring my son’s KTM 250 motocross bike for the trip. It was much lighter and more nimble than my Suzuki DRZ-400.
Of course my job was to photograph the ride. When you are riding challenging single track trails, the last thing you want to carry around is a heavy camera, lens, and flash. Not only do you have to worry about the weight, but also the expense of the camera in case you crash and bang it up, or fall over and dump all that expensive gear in the water. For this trip I brought along minimal equipment – just my Nikon D300 and my Canon G9 point and shoot.
While we were getting ready Bill and Brad were chatting about riding in a beautiful spring field full of wildflowers. It was a high contrast day with the sun bright overhead, so I wanted to knock down some of the contrast and fill in the shadows for this key shot. I had it in my mind to use it for a double truck spread. I seldom use on camera flash, but in this case it was the fastest, safest option to fill in the shadows and lower the contrast of the image.
Later as we hit the trail and rode hard through the woods, I used both the D300 and the G9 for photos. The G9 was much faster to shoot with, while the D300 offered a better lens. I was unable to use flash on most of the remaining photos, primarily because I just didn’t have time to set up. You can tell higher contrast in these later photos. I got some great action shots, especially of Chris Johnson, who rides with a prosthetic leg. He ended up being one of the most skilled riders for the day on a worn out 1998 KLR enduro bike.