I am a Total Warrior

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Some spend their day running, crawling in the mud, carrying logs, whereas I…spend my day capturing them and trust me, it’s close, personal and physical.


Everything had started on Friday evening around 8 pm when I received a call from MyBibNumber Limited (company specialised in covering sports events in the UK). Martyn, its director, explains to me he needs a photographer for the next day as one just let him down at the last minute.

My mission

Posted at a defined obstacle, I am to capture the 2000 racers in a Total Warrior event taking place near North Berwick (15min drive from my house). All the photographs need to captured in JPEG (2.5mb files) and delivered at the end of the event.

Geo-political context

The story would not be whole if I did not disclose the conflicting time of this mission with my meeting with Joe Cornish. Joe and I had planned to meet on the Saturday morning around 9:30 am at a South Queensberry hotel (near the Forth Rail Bridge) to record our discussion, sheltered from the forecasted rain. Since the Total Warrior race was to start at 10 am I had to make a choice. Joe and I talked on the phone and agreed to postpone our meet to next week when he drives back through Edinburgh. I called Martyn back and accepted the mission.

My weapons

  • Canon 5D III
  • Canon battery grip
  • 2 batteries
  • Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS USM
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM II
  • 1 CF & 1 SD card
  • Waterproof trousers and jacket
  • My monopod
  • My Pelican case to carry all the gear and potentially seat on it (which i  never got to do after the beginning of the race)

My position

The obstacle to cover was located 10k after the starting blocks and consisted of running up a slope while carrying a log and climbing over a wall. I arrived about 1hr before the first racer to scout the grounds and figure out my vantage point.

Physical effort

The entire capture was achieved with the 70-200mm and given the number of racers and their speed it was impossible to use my monopod. This means that from 10:36 am until 2:56 pm I remained standing up, holding my 10lbs weapons while crying my lungs out to motivate the racers and get some interesting reactions. It rained from 9h to 2:30 pm and often poured in the same direction as the incoming racers which means I kept on wiping my lens glass dry every 2min. Between 3 pm and 4 pm I walked back to the finish line and captured some of the racers that had to climb a 12-foot wall with a too short rope before they could cross the finish line.

Master your weapon and the element

The camera was set as follow:

  • Aperture priority
  • JPEG 2.5mb mode with replication on the two memory cards
  • ISO 800 at first then 1250
  • F2.8
  • AIServo
  • Back Button Focussing to dissociate the Focus from the shot


It was an out of the ordinary day. While the creative aspect was less than the weddings and other missions I am accustomed to, the challenge was that each shot was final and no development would savage the messed-ups. This did put some pressure, but this is where a full knowledge of one’s weapon of choice is crucial. I knew that using an ISO 1250 was going to give me a fast enough shutter speed to freeze my subject and not including the sky in my frame meant my exposure was rather constant (although I did not take any unnecessary risk and stayed on Aperture priority instead of Manual mode). Overall it was a very good experience which illustrates that taking risks, welcoming new unforeseen challenges can pay off (not only financially speaking). My advice to you reader, whether you are an amateur or a pro: Get out there, put yourself in danger and dare new things that come your way as this is the only secret to improving.

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