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Moonlight is the chosen form of illumination for many of the riders on the Desert Knights cycle event.

Moonlight is the chosen form of illumination for many of the riders on the Desert Knights cycle event.

Ok, this wasn’t shot at MID-night; it was in fact at 9:30, but in early spring, it’s very much night time in the Richtersveld in South Africa!

The Desert Knights mountain bike event is held over a week leading up to the full moon, so that riders can appreciate the beautiful surroundings of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Some riders make use of headlamps and bicycle headlights, as can be seen in the far background of the picture. However, most riders elect to switch off their lights during the fullest moons, because once one’s eyes adjust to the low light, it becomes much easier to navigate and appreciate the stunning and vast terrain, than when one’s gaze is fixed into a narrow beam of LED light which stretches mere meters ahead.

You really haven’t experienced a full moon until you go out into the desert, many miles away from city lights, and you spend a few hours outside walking or biking around.

In case you’re wondering, this is not an apparition; the picture is a combination of a long exposure punctuated by a flash of light to illuminate the rider as she rode past my position, sat in a rather obscuring manner, in the middle of the road while I waited for the scattered field of riders to catch up to my location. 

In fact I spent the best part of an hour and a half waiting in the moonlight and surprisingly warm but steady headwind, trying to manage my equipment to protect it from dust and from being swept away.

It was only afterwards that I was told of how disorientated some of the riders felt after being zapped from out of the darkness by the full strength of my fairly substantial flash-gun. But at least it did result in one or two pleasing shots. Fair compensation for doing a job that apparently could have cost me my liver, given that I later also learned of the fact that sometimes leopards like to hunt by the light of the full moon. I’d imagine that the back side of a photographer sitting cross legged in the middle of a huge flat plain, would be somewhat of a temptation for Mr Leopard!