Not only did the recent World Championships in Cairns throw up some thrilling races, but it also produced some stunning imagery as XCO and DH riders battled it out for the win.

We spoke to top snapper Ben Sykes to find out exactly how he captured his best photos from the event to give you some hints and tips to take the perfect shot on your next big ride.

And if you have a real passion for MTB pics, don’t miss your chance to vote in the ‘AMB Photography Awards presented by Shimano’ – where you could win a pair of Shimano ME7 or XC7 shoes just for choosing your favourite image.


The Scene
Josh Button, the Kona rider from Coffs Harbour, rides over the end of the Alien Tree section, with Connor Fearon behind. This shot was from Thursday’s practice session. The shooting spot was a popular one for photographers. I used some foliage on the right hand side of the frame to try and frame out the photographer under the sign, which also warped the Alien Tree sign.

The Settings
Canon 7D, Lens Canon EF 85mm 1.8 USM prime lens. Manual mode, aperture f/1.8 and shutter speed 1/500s, auto ISO = 400, AI Servo AF, High Speed Burst.

The Finishing
Exposure pushed up by a stop and a bit, shadows made darker and black point pushed up. A little clarity and vibrance and some subtle colour grading via split toning (orange highlights / blue shadows) added, and a little of the saturation in the yellows has been decreased. A little brightening of his helmet and upper shoulders to define his head from the background better. The 85mm 1.8 is a great lens but has colour fringes in harsh light so de-fringing is turned up and some manual adjustment of that around the image in spots.

The Appeal
Josh is a rider who’s previously podiumed here in Cairns in a World Cup, so he has a bit of history there. The fact it’s a good shot of him in one of the best spots for photos on the track also helps. Also the way the Alien Tree sign has been warped is something different.