Last week I camped out on Uwharrie National Forest, although getting away from it all wasn’t the main goal. I was doing photography at the BF Goodrich 36 Hours of Uwharrie, which included two mandatory shooting stages during the off-road, adventurist-style competition.
I wish I had time to see all the missions assigned to participants—more than 30 in all—but my main focus was their trigger time behind Ruger AR-556s and pump-action Stevens 12-gauges. The six new guns used for the event were nicely engraved with the 36 Hours of Uwharrie logo, by the way.
AR-15 Photography Session
The AR-15 marksmanship phase took place on a public range about as photogenic as a train wreck, without flames, explosions, sirens, screaming or even a gratuitous herd of onlooking goats. It was a confusingly ugly derailment though the lens, although the range officers kept things running smoothly, safely and efficiently. The shooting benches were cramped, the firing line was covered in shade and combined with the bright sunlight downrange it confused my Canon 5D and flash worse than an English major in a calculus final exam.
I resorted to manual, but the wood rest/bench/walls still gave everything an ugly and unnatural warm tint. Yes, Photoshop cleaned it some in post, but still yuck, as you can see here. If I arrived before the firing line went hot, I could have set up strobes remotely triggered by Pocket Wizards and been a lot happier, strobist style.
I could also crop closer to highlight the brass that’s just been kicked out, but then things wouldn’t be hi res enough for the print magazines I write/photograph for.
Shotgun Photography Session
Things were different at the clays stage, thankfully. Shooter’s working a pump-action shotgun are a little slower at shucking empty hulls, so I caught a lot in the air, some still smoking. The one at the top of this page was taken with a Canon 70-200 F4/L at a shutter speed of 1/1000. That’s not real fast by today’s DSLR standards, so give the setting a try the next time you’re at the range.
Final Thoughts on the 36 Hours of Uwharrie
You have to wait until next year if you think you’re driver enough—or shooter—to win. It’s an awesome event, with great people and you can read one of my first stories on NRA’s ShootingIllustrated.com here. Look for another soon at my AmericanRifleman.org Fear and Loading blog and I crammed a bunch of the shooting photos and video into a modest 1:42 long YouTube video. It’s not great, but you’ll get the idea, anyway.
Anytime I’m on assignment, I also make a point of catching a few scenic/flavor shots along the way. This time spent hours trying to fine-tune some images of my tent at dusk….stay tuned for a look at how they many flashes it took to get one I like. The next time I go I may need a semi just for camera gear.
In the meantime, feel free to complain about my gun photography. I’m always eager get input, even if it’s as ugly as the Uwharrie rifle range. I’ll bring the goats.