Shooting the Yukon Quest 2011: Circle City pt.2 – Inside the checkpoint

Sebastian Schnuelle talks to the media while eating breakfast in Circle City

Sebastian Schnuelle talks to the media while eating breakfast in Circle City

Generally, most of the excitement and amazing images of the Yukon Quest come from the sweeping vistas and mountains while the race is on.

However, as a photographer rushing from checkpoint to checkpoint, you spend a lot of time inside those checkpoints, trying to make things look interesting. The Circle City checkpoint was pretty busy – firetrucks, gear, coats hanging up, picnic tables around, media and volunteers all about.

That in itself can make interesting pictures.

But to take things a little beyond the ordinary, you can use little tricks to do something different. 

For instance, in the above photo, Sebastian just arrived and was waiting for some food. Media started asking questions, so I felt I was OK to step in and take some photos.

I didn’t want the usual media frenzy and clutter around him – I wanted to capture more of the feelings that were coming from him – having just endured a huge run from Dawson to Circle City.

I set up a remote flash close to him, 45 degree behind him, camera right. I set the power high, zoomed the flash beam in to just hit his face, and shot. This effectively killed the ambient light on all the clutter around him, with the light from the flash making his expression and features the only focus of the photo.

And sometimes the non-action-oriented shots can prove quite beautiful.

Taking a well-deserved rest at Circle City Checkpoint

Taking a well-deserved rest at Circle City Checkpoint. Photo by Rick Massie / Yukon Sport Photographer

 

The Yukon Quest is a lot of work for everyone involved. But we all have fun too. Al Hallman, head vet, took to the outdoors to throw some boiling water in the air. We all had a great laugh (or three!) as he tossed it up in the air, letting it turn to snow.

Maybe you’ve seen it on youtube? Let me tell you, it’s still cool to see it happen right in front of you!

Turning hot water into snow at -50

Turning hot water into snow at -50. Photo by Rick Massie / Yukon Sport Photographer

So what was life like in Circle City? I didn’t spend long there, but I managed to capture a few slices of life in the coldest place I’ve ever visited.

Out and About In Circle City

Out and About In Circle City. Photo by Rick Massie / Yukon Sport Photographer

Yukon Riverview Motel. Circle City, Alaska.

Yukon Riverview Motel. Circle City, Alaska. Photo by Rick Massie / Yukon Sport Photographer

Cold, cold facilities in Circle City, Alaska.

Cold, cold facilities in Circle City, Alaska. Photo by Rick Massie / Yukon Sport Photographer

It was a beautiful but short visit. Can’t say I’ll miss the cold though!

RM

3 thoughts on “Shooting the Yukon Quest 2011: Circle City pt.2 – Inside the checkpoint

    • Thanks Stacie! I can believe the cold tainted your brain! I was lucky (if you can call it that) – mine was well-accustomed to ridiculous cold by this point, having just shot the Quest route from Whitehorse to Dawson, and then driving all the way around to Circle City.

      It’s one of those places I’ll never forget – a very unique little place in the world!

  1. Hi Rick – I remember the cold well – and the beauty of the Circle City! Man, but it was COLD. Great shot of Sebastian – you caught that introspection and quietness of the musher just off the cold trail absorbing the warmth of a heated building – and the first time in many long hours of speaking to another human.

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