Story By Jenn Gidman
Images By Spencer Kofoed
Mountain Biking Goes Electric with Spencer Kofoed
Spencer Kofoed’s Tamron 17-28mm ultra-wide-angle and 28-75mm zoom lenses help him capture the latest adventure sport.
Mountain Biking Goes Electric
Spencer Kofoed’s love for high-intensity sports was baked in from a young age—he even once had aspirations to be a professional Alpine skier, taking time off after high school to train and race. He ended up going to school for mechanical engineering, but he never lost his love for extreme sports, even founding The Endless Shred clothing company, which encourages a lifestyle of adventure. One day, however, he realized he didn’t have many photos of these adventures to share with his family, so he “borrowed” his sister’s camera (without telling her) and started documenting.
“I was more or less self-taught, poking around on YouTube to find tutorials and just shooting as much as possible when I was out with friends,” he says. “Over the last two years, I’ve also been meeting a whole bunch of photographers. Just being in their presence has taught me a lot about the craft.”
His latest foray is into the world of electric dirt bikes, built to handle rough terrain using a battery-powered motor. “My friends and I head out to these cool remote spots all over Utah and ride our bikes, and I’ll bring my camera along so I can take pictures of us,” he says.
The two Tamron lenses Spencer has been packing in his gear bag for these extreme biking excursions are the 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD ultra-wide-angle and 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD lenses, both for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. “These lenses are both so sharp, with high-performance autofocus,” he says. “I got the 28-75mm first, and it’s become my go-to lens. I’m a huge fan. The 17-28mm, meanwhile, has offered me a different perspective on the sport. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, especially in tighter quarters and for interior shots, which I also do on occasion.”
Keeping his gear clean is a challenge in situations where the sand and dirt is constantly flying. “My camera definitely takes a beating,” he laughs. “I don’t want to miss any shots, though. I do try my best to keep dust out of the internal part of the lens; I have a UV filter I’ll often use to help with that. And I have an air blaster to blow the dust off if I have to change lenses. So far, when I wipe my equipment down at the end of the day, everything is still working.”
One of the most important aspects to Spencer’s electric mountain bike photos is his ability to freeze the riders in action. “That guy doing the wheelie on the edge of the bluff is a perfect example of the type of shot I usually go for,” he says. “He’s from the Swedish company that makes the bikes shown here, so he’s obviously really good at riding them. He simply rode up to the edge, then hit the brakes and popped up in the air. I had to shoot at a fast-enough shutter speed—1/1250th of a second—to make sure I froze him at that exact moment. I had to use that same fast shutter speed for the guy in the middle of the dust circle. I took that photo looking down on him from the top of our van.”
Setting the riders in the distance against Utah’s diverse landscapes allows Spencer to show off the majestic scenery with a sense of scale. “Taking shots like this allows me to highlight the texture of the sand and rock formations,” he says. “But if I didn’t have the riders somewhere in the photo, you wouldn’t get a sense of just how immense the landscape really is.”
Shooting in the early morning and early evening is a necessity during Utah’s summers, mainly to avoid getting caught in extreme heat, but it also helps Spencer create beautifully lit pictures he wouldn’t be able to capture at any other time. “We were coming down the mountain just around sunset, with me in the back of the truck, with a ratchet strap holding me in as the biker came down behind us,” he says. “I knew we’d get some nice golden light on the way down, but I didn’t expect this. The way the sunlight lit up the dust getting kicked up by the bike was spectacular.”
Nowhere is the sharpness of Spencer’s Tamron lenses more evident than in his close-up with the 28-75mm of a bike tire kicking up sand. “I’m always trying out new perspectives of the bikes and the riders,” he says. “Over the past few months, I’ve been shooting a lot tighter and focusing in on details that might get otherwise overlooked. This particular effect wasn’t planned—I just happened to be concentrating on the wheel of the bike as he was riding when all that sand started spewing into the air. I loved how each little knob on the wheel kicked up a different ‘strand’ of sand. It made the image so eye-catching. These lenses are so sharp it’s ridiculous.”