On Location – Alex Metcalfe
Alex Metcalfe - Portrait

On Location – Alex Metcalfe

On Location - Greno Woods with Alex Metcalfe


My first introduction to Alex was when I was at a burlesque show in Rotherham at SNAFU and he ended up on his hands and knees getting whipped on stage by Lady May (bonus picture at the end of this post!!) His other half Bella Muse was performing her debut burlesque performance and he was on the door.

I didn’t know what he did but I followed him on Instagram and saw he was a mountain biker. We got chatting on Instagram and decided to pop up to Greno Woods in Sheffield on a Sunday morning and get some photos. I’d not shot MTB before but I’ve done a bit of skateboarding photography and thought it would be a laugh if nothing else!

We met up in the car park, got ready, and wandered off into the woods. Alex has been there loads of time before and he gave me the run down of the place and the tip that if you hear “Rider!” then move out of the way sharpish (by the end of the day he’d grabbed me a couple of times to stop me walking into oncoming traffic, these guys are fast but very quiet!)

We started on a smaller jump so I could get my eye in and get everything looking right in-camera to save me having to faff around later in post. (Get it right in-camera first time, it’ll save you loads of time later)

Alex had done the jump a couple of times, on one run the tyre slipped off to one side and lost loads of ‘tyre goo’ and then on another he realised his back wheel was only on finger tight so we had to borrow some allen keys from another rider at the top of the hill. While he went off to find some tools I grabbed a few shots of other riders coming down the track.

Alex reckoned we needed to head further down the track to a bigger jump and standing there looking at it, it makes you realise it takes some serious bottle to do what these guys do! There were a few other riders who got to this jump and stopped at the top and thought ‘sod that!’. We grabbed a couple more shots there…

Alex told me a bit further down the track there’s a big drop into a pit so we decided to head down there. I got set up and then realised I couldn’t see when Alex was coming down the track due to be being in a big bloody hole! Luckily the MTB guys were really friendly and offered to act as spotters at the top of the drop to let me know when he was due to come down. I grabbed some more shots of Alex and a couple of other riders while I was down in the pit.

Once we’d finished getting the action shots, I decided to grab a few portraits of him and his bike that we could use for promo & social media.

After 2 hours flying down hills we said our goodbyes to the other MTB guys and headed back up the hill. Alex wanted to show me where he’d had a massive crash previously and managed to hit a tree.

We wandered back to the car park and I grabbed a few more shots of Alex dismantling his bike before we both headed off home.

Massive thanks to Alex for showing me around, spending his Sunday morning with me, and doing his thing ‘one more time’ because I’d not quite got the framing I wanted in the shot!


Technical Info:

All shots taken with Canon 5D Mk III

Action Shots – 24-105mm f/4 @ f8-f11

Lighting – Pixapro CITI600 bare or with 90cm Octa for portraits

Final Images in Car park natural light with Canon 50mm f/1.4

Bonus Photo!

Alex & Lady May

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Blown away by these shots. Makes me feel inadequate about more own photography BUT I’m inspired by your work.

    1. Thanks very much Steve 🙂 My advice is just keep playing and see what you come up with.

      Alex did most of the hard work here. It’s a simple 2 light setup with the sun behind him as a rim light and a battery powered studio strobe on full beans as the key light pointing straight at him. You could do the same thing with a couple of speedlights, give it a go 🙂 Learning off camera flash was one of those Eureka moments for me when I was trying to work out why my photos didn’t look like other people’s.

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