Behind the Cover : Dan Milner

About the cover shot below, tell us about how you photographed it and tips for those looking to capture something similar?

It took us 4 days overland travel from Tajikistan to reach the starting point of our 12-day ride through Afghanistan’s remote Wakhan corridor, so to be honest I was chomping at the bit to get shooting when we finally started riding our bikes. That said we launched straight into a hefty climb straight up this pass at 4250m - a tough, lung crushing challenge for us all before becoming acclimatised. Even while riding along I’m always distracted by possible photo opportunities that can tell the story and this mountain pass presented them in abundance. To me, even looking at this landscape in retrospect, the scene has all the elements that Afghanistan’s landscapes came to mean to me - vast open valleys, steep, snow capped mountains, desert dust and wild meandering mule trails. I hopped around for a few minutes to find the angle I wanted that would combine these ingredients in one shot, placing the boulders in the foreground to add depth to the shot and asked our trip’s pro mountain biker Matt Hunter to ride over the pass one more time to get the shot. Its important for shots like this to look natural and candid - no looking at the camera like a family photo. I usually ask the rider to ‘throw some shapes’ and to make sure there riding look like serious effort, but at over 4000m altitude in this case I didn’t have to.

When did you take this shot and what did you use to shoot it?

Weirdly this was the first “action’ shot of our 12-day expedition. I say weirdly, because the trip gave me so many opportunities to shoot along the way, both action and lifestyle, but this first riding shot, taken at the top of the first pass we summited (the 4250m high Dalriz pass), was the one to land the cover of Bike magazine, the principle media backers of the trip. I shot this with a Nikon D600 body (the smallest lightest full frame DSLR that Nikon made) and a Nikkor 70-200 f4 lens. On trips like this you’re carrying gear on your back on the bike for days, so weight is a big issue, meaning choosing gear carefully. We climbed three passes above 4800m on that trip. I use the newer Nikon D750 now for these kind of trips.

For those that aren’t familiar with you or your work, tell us a bit about yourself and your photography?

I’ve been bitten by the travel bug for nearly 3 decades now, and photographing my experiences was always an important part of that. I’m lucky to have made it my full time career for the last 17 or so years, but the lure of experiencing a completely new place is never one that pales. I’ve built up a reputation for shooting some of snowboarding and mountain biking’s most adventurous stories, in some very wild corners of the planet, realising early that it’s having an original approach to a story that sells a feature, even if its a trip to a place that has been photographed before. I’m a natural light kind of photographer that likes to record the bigger picture of our antics in the natural environment. I find it humbling.

For those looking to find out more about you, where can they go?

You can see more of my images on my website, and on my Staff Pro page and by following me on twitter or on instagram.



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