Raumai Cup Day Two

Leaving Eric and Gaby’s place, we are out the door at 5am, skies pitch black and weather overcast. At the forest by 5.45am to set up for the days racing. Once all was readied and while everyone milled around waiting for the mushers meeting I spotted a young toddler taking a keen interest in proceedings, all kitted out with his own headlight, just like Mum.

Mother and toddler

As the mushers gather for their meeting I grab my gear and head into the forest to find my first vantage spot on the trail. It’s truly an amazing feeling walking along by myself, my torch light showing me the way, into the depths of the still, dark forest. Not a sound to be heard but the scurrying of small animals on the pine needles and, as the sun begins to lift above the horizon, the chorus of the morning bird song. Magic!!

The first teams come racing through and it’s still dark, so again can only work on creative settings and the ghost dog effect.

Huskies ghosting in the dark
Huskies ghosting in the dark

By 8am the sun was up and the skies have cleared. Once the last team in this class comes through I trudge further into the forest and find the steep downhill I want to shoot from.

This particular part of the track zigzags with heaps of switch backs and . . . you guessed it, I overshoot the spot, lose my bearings for a bit and back track a ways to get set up before the next teams came powering through!!

Some light is now coming through from the edge of the forest about 100metres away, but it remains very low light within the trees. ISO needs to be at 1600, higher than I would like, 70-200mm lens wide open at f2.8 and shutter speed slower than ideal for fast running dog teams.

Two dog downhill
Single Dog Downhill
two dog and scooter downhill
two dog downhill run

Another lesson learnt today was always make sure you find out how many teams there are in each class and then you know when the last team is through and you can move on.  I hadn’t done this! Ending up wasting a lot of time hanging around too long at one location and then rushing off to set up at the next as teams come racing past. Doh!!

After one of these moments I spotted Hayden and Eric coming through in the ute to set a course for the juniors and veterans. Quickly packing up, grabbing my gear and jogging over to wave them down. They drop me at the bottom of a long downhill which is thankfully only a km or so from the finish. Phew!!

Here I set up my camera low down to work on a shot of the dogs/legs filling the frame to capture motion blur. Again, didn’t realise the small number of teams in this section, so only got a couple chances to test the set up.

camera and tripod set up
low angle ghosting dog

So did I come away from my first race weekend of the season with the number of great images I thought I would? Heck no, not at all.


Was my first race weekend of the season a success? Absolutely!!

This weekend has taught me many, many lessons in using my equipment better and in different ways, testing different settings, shot types, angles that will in time create the stunning imagery for my book project.

When I am out there in the forest with my camera at hand, the dogs, their owners who love what they are doing, I’m absorbed in the moment. I am content no matter how dark or cold or wet the weather. Time passes easily with the thrill and challenge of finding and making the shot.

Teresa in Raumai Forest

Until next time,


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