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Chris Spencer, Official 6 Days photographer

Edited on 07th Aug 2011

Categorised under: General Media-Press

The 6 Days has always been a challenge for me. It has some of the best Orienteering terrain in the UK that provides sustained technical navigation and demands immense physical stamina to complete the week.  It is organised by a band of dedicated volunteers that results in us all having some great fun and meeting many new friends in a spectacular environment.  The challenge for me at Oban was to photograph it.

I had taken on the role as the 6 Day photographer in an attempt to try and capture the spirit of this Orienteering festival.  Just like you, I recognise the need and desire to show off this great sport in all its colourful glory. Yes, get some elite action shots, but it was just as important to capture all orienteering abilities that participate in probably the finest family participation sport there is.
Not forgetting, I also wanted to get some images of the great organisation and huge teamwork that makes it all work so well that ensures we get the thrills and spills that we seek.  The volunteers and workers of such events deservedly need to be recognised and photographing them reminds us all how vital their contributions are which make it all work.

Having previously been a 6 Day competitor, car park attendant, planner and controller, general gofer and dogsbody.  I was therefore quietly confident I understood the need to get “good photos” of us all having some great fun at all levels of orienteering.  The week spent in and around Oban certainly beat sitting in the office or going to school.  Remember, the whole week was your holiday with a little competition thrown in for good measure, I hope I have given you and others a flavour of what the 6 Days is all about through my amateur photography skills.

I am an active member of Moravian OC and RAFO.  My military experience and notably some reluctant combat survival training I did years ago in the jungles of Brunei came in very useful.  My tactics were to be covert and not so covert, to seek you the orienteer.  Bear Grylls would have been proud of me.

Some of you get lost, others get very lost and then there is my wife!  I spent up to five hours in the woods (or hills) trying to find you, being stung by wasps, eaten alive by ants and smothered in thousands of ticks; and in the process, I think I managed to take a few pretty pictures.

The pictures are available for viewing on my photo gallery links on this 6 Day website.  I know most of you would have seen me during the week.  I would like to thank you for your happy smiles and teeth gritting whilst trying to run those hills as I photographed you.  I hope I snapped you trying to enjoy your moment of pleasure and did not distract you to much.  I’m sorry if I startled some of you, or you thought I invaded your moment of privacy whilst trying to remember why you were there in the first place as you were moving through the start boxes.  The photo albums just show a selection of photos that show the evolution of each day as it unfolded.

I thoroughly enjoyed the week, yes it was hard work and I did miss participating myself.  You probably guessed it, I am thinking of a new career in an already competitive sports photography world.
Ideally I would have used two cameras and had a big choice of lenses to get those really professional action shots. A big limitation was trying to cover such a large area and photograph as many types of competitors as possible in such a short time.  It was amazing how many times I would get to a busy control site only for it to then go spookily quiet, and devoid of runners to photograph passing through it.

If you use any photos taken, please appropriately credit the work to Chris Spencer, ActivNorth, thanks.

Does any other large orienteering event want photographing?

Thank you to the whole 6 Day team for their assistance and giving me the opportunity to photograph the whole week.
Special thanks to Paul Frost for his advice and pointing me in the right direction.

And of course many thanks to you the orienteer.

Enjoy the pics.

Chris Spencer

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