"I've kind of been stuck in my ways, shooting with bigger kit," reveals Scotland-based action sports photographer Dave Mackison. "I often pack battery-powered studio lights, but I really only ever use them on the lowest setting. Being able to use the Canon Speedlite EL-1 and travel light on this particular shoot was a game-changer for me."
The shoot in question was a three-day assignment to record his friend Duncan Shaw, a professional mountain bike and trials rider, who was taking an action-packed spin around the streets of Bristol in the south west of England. This would be no ordinary cycling tour of the city, though. Rather than sticking to the road, Duncan would be riding, balancing and jumping on features he found in the urban environment – and the photographer would need to keep up. This demanding action assignment was the first pro shoot with the Canon Speedlite EL-1, and an excellent test of the flash's capabilities.
Dave is no stranger to this type of fast-paced shoot, having started his professional photography career on the Drop and Roll bicycle stunt show tour devised by Duncan and fellow street trials cyclist Danny MacAskill in 2014. "I came on board to help with some of the building work," explains Dave. "But when it came to our first show in Switzerland, we didn't have a photographer. So, I ended up buying a camera at the last minute and shooting the event." Commissions snowballed from there, and Dave now counts Red Bull, Adidas and Santa Cruz Bicycles as repeat clients.
Being able to travel light and react quickly without compromising on lighting power were essential requirements for this latest job. So, rather than shoot with his existing, heavier kit, Dave used a combination of two Canon Speedlite EL-1 professional flashes and a Canon EOS R5.