This photo of Aaron was taken during the downhill finals in 2010 as he won his second-consecutive DH National Championship. These days, Gwin probably has at least 8 national titles, plus 5 World Cup overall championships.
Racing the track myself that day, I felt this location could be an interesting spot during finals. Aaron is screaming out of a right-hand corner then floating over a pretty big step-down jump and is basically about to land in a sharp, high-speed, right-hand berm, which is where his eyes are looking.
In the bottom right of the photo you can barely see the top of the berm. I'm on my stomach propping my camera up over the berm with my elbows, & then used a bungee cord to strap Canon Speedlite flashes to a tree. My goal was to expose for him with artificial light, then control the ambient light with shutter speed in high-speed sync mode. Based on the motion blur in the tires, I'd guess this was probably shot around 1/500th to 1/640th of a second. I couldn't really see him approaching & also couldn't hold myself up on my elbows for too many consecutive riders while holding a 70-200 lens. So, I listened to the crowd get louder as he approached then peeked over the berm to hopefully catch up in my viewfinder at the right time.
Presumably, not many people reading this have worked for a monthly print magazine, so here’s how it went down where I worked. In my full-time print magazine days (which ended in 2011), for every issue I'd have ~10 days to research and write any stories I was on the hook for that month (for many years it was about half of the entire mag). Those 10-days also included any travel to shoot an event, attend product launches, etc. At the end of that 10-day period all of the written stories were due. Next, I'd have 5 days to shoot all of the images I'd need to illustrate the articles I'd written, like new products in the studio, bike test action, and also curate any images from events, destination stories, or personality pieces to illustrate those stories. Often, I’d shoot a bike test in the morning and then ride for one in the afternoon. I’ve certainly done too many bike test shoots to keep track of, however I wouldn't be surprised if I’ve ridden in more as the model than I have done as the photographer. Well, that was probably true until about 2015, anyway.
Five days after all of the photos were turned in and processed, my two editorial colleagues and I would proofread the mag and send it off to the printer. Then, 10 days later my stories were again due...
This cycle continued month after month year after year. By the time an issue came out in print, I was likely writing and shooting one three issues later, so I rarely paid attention to that issue that just hit the newsstand, because it was old news to and I’d moved on months prior.
Therefore, I never really paid attention to how the publisher brightened this entire image for the cover, but when side by side to the original it's evident.