“It’s kind of hard to talk about all of the trips together because each was so different,” Toby says. “From the volcanic eruptions on Mt Etna in Sicily, Italy to the extreme weather in Iceland, there was always a different challenge to overcome. But this is what excites me the most about being a photographer – you just don’t really know how incredible each trip is going to be until you’re actually shooting there.”
Toby and the team visited four locations in all: Sicily, Africa, Iceland and Alaska.
“Iceland turned out to be the hardest of all to shoot in,” he says. “Even before I got on the plane I’d set myself some pretty high expectations of the shots I aimed to get on the trip. I’d seen photos of the locations before and it looked unreal, and seeing it in person when we were there just blew me away.”
But what Toby hadn’t accounted for was the extent to which the landscape in Iceland is protected by conservation law, which meant the areas that the team could ride on were restricted.
“We had to give up on a couple of perfect locations because of this, and settle for something else instead. On top of that it poured with rain for 7 of the 10 days, which left us with a pretty small window in which to shoot,” he recalls.
Nevertheless, the team brought home some pretty amazing images of the trip.
Thinking back to Namibia; “That trip stands out above the rest for me. Especially the day that we went to shoot in the towering dunes at Sandwich Harbour,” Toby says.
“There was a lot of risk involved. We had to drive along a long narrow stretch of beach to get to our location and if we’d have got stuck or timed the tides badly then we’d have lost everything. Plus we didn’t even know if the dunes would be ridable, but such an unreal location right on the coast meant that is was a gamble worth taking."
"It turned out the dunes were relatively hard packed thanks to the moisture in the air from the ocean, so the boys wasted no time unpacking their gear and hiking to the top. We had two amazing hours shooting there, with this stunning ocean backdrop before an approaching weather front meant we had to head inland, to Dune 7. We finished in high spirits after an incredible sunset shoot – golden hour in the desert is really something else.”
Using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a small collection of lenses, Toby aimed to capture both the action and the environment: “I really wanted to show the beauty of the landscape while still making the rider, and their style, the focal point of the images.”“Photographing biking in these incredible conditions is often not an easy task. There are so many factors that need to come together in order to produce a good shot, and often the rider will only do a line once before moving on to the next one. You have to make every shot count!"
“There were so many amazing moments, and I feel like we really only scratched the surface at some of those locations. There are a few I’m hoping to revisit in the future for sure.”
See more photos on Red Bull Photography. Check out the full Into The Dirt series here: