cyclo cross 2012/2013 photo book by balint hamvas. 227pp illus. £29.99

cyclocross 2012/2013 balint hamvas

car advertisements are the bane of my life, more especially if the car dealer decides to alter the format and content of the advertisement placed in a previous issue of our newspaper. aside from the tedium of listing another few dozen motor cars of varying years and mileage, it's the nomenclature that drives me round the twist (pun intended). for instance, any vehicle featuring the letters hdi is unquestionably a diesel, yet it is apparently necessary to underline this point by adding the word diesel to the description. and since diesel engines work on the principle of fuel injection, why is it necessary to add the letter 'i'?

car advertisements are thus a combination of stating the patently obvious with merely a soupcon of inscrutable acronyms; e/w, s/r, fsh and the like. all this fol-de-rol simply exists to add intrigue to an item of basic motorised transport.

cyclocross 2012/2013 balint hamvas

but there are other subjects and concepts for whom the applicable designation offers either an overwrought impression of complexity, a tag to the incomprehensible, or a serious undermining of something few of us will ever understand. quantum physics is one that springs to mind, along with the general theory of relativity, an epithet that hides a rather frighteningly complex concept. i suppose it very much depends on who it is that coins the significant phrase in the first place. in this case, it's cyclocross photographer balint hamvas.

i have featured the gentleman's photographic output in these pixels on previous occasions, but this time he is guilty of serious misrepresentation. cast your eyes back to the title and you will note that it is simply subtitled photo book; that is the equivalent of saying sven nys is a cyclist. hamvas' misrperesentation of his collected work as a photo book is made manifest the minute you approach the first chapter, for the imagery contained within is some of the finest photography of any genre it has been my good fortune to set eyes upon.

cyclocross 2012/2013 balint hamvas

the 2012/2013 'cross season was, by his own admission, his third, and via personal admission in the introduction "The race venues haven't changed significantly, which meant that sometimes I had to work hard to find new, yet interesting angles to show a different face of familiar venues."

in which case every moment of hard work was worth every second of his time. covering the entire season of super prestige races, world cup races and pretty much everything in between, there's not a chance all this can be viewed and appreciated in a single sitting. i have quite literally spent hours sat in the leather reviewing armchair picking my way through more than 349 colour and black and white images. these offer portraits of the stars, their bicycles, those who are not yet stars and perhaps most importantly, the racing.

cyclocross 2012/2013 balint hamvas

all are quite uncannily observed, with often the backgrounds offering every bit as much intrigue and interest as the designated focal point of the image. the differing viewpoints of photographers standing behind klass vantornout; a mechanic riding while carrying two bagged wheels at middlekerke; a white jacketed sven nys shouldering his colnago in front of a snow-drenched landscape; a dura-ace decal displaced from its wheel rim in the mud. and a great deal of the latter, for what indeed is cyclocross without lashings of mud?

cyclocross 2012/2013 balint hamvas

however, the pictures are not simply content to sell themselves unaccompanied, a feature again explained by hamvas in his introduction. "One thing that has not changed is the fact that my photos are infinitely better than my writing, and that was the reason that I asked a few talented people, who are deeply involved with the sport, to delve deeper..." as if these excellent photographs were not enough, there are brief yet insightful essays from simon burney, stefan wyman, dan seaton, caroline cardinaels and matthew montesano.

if you're lucky enough, you can stand by the side of the courses or perhaps nab a peek at the action via sporza, but for the real nitty gritty and a vision that is uniquely in tune with its subject matter, this is the best thing to happen to cyclocross since pdxcross's dirty pictures.

definitely not just a photo book.

monday 23rd september 2013