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Welcome to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2013

Red Bull Illume is the world's premier action and adventure sports photography competition. The 2013 Image Quest uncovered a new, stunning collection of images.

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© Ben Thouard / Red Bull Content Pool

Barrel of Fire: A Human Torch Goes Big-wave Surfing

Two action sports photographers, Tim McKenna and Ben Thouard recently captured some unique shots – of a surfer on fire. The surfer, Jamie O'Brien, is known as a barrel-riding master, movie producer, web series guru and all-round game changer. What people might not know is that Jamie O’Brien is also a complete madman.

After asking fans for stunt ideas for his original web series, he received a direct message on Instagram: “They said ‘it would be cool if you lit yourself on fire’ and I thought, might as well. So I went into Red Bull and I said ‘hey, I want to light myself on fire and go into a barrel at Teahupo’o,’ and they looked at me like are you for real?” Jamie recalls.

He was for real.

Over the course of the next 12 months, Jamie prepared for the challenge of his life – to ride a notoriously ferocious wave that happens to break over an extremely shallow, sharp coral reef off the coast of Tahiti – while on fire.

A year of preparation and numerous safety tests later, Jamie and his nearly 25-strong team were ready to make his fiery surfing dream a reality. “They were telling me how some people panic and react differently around the fire. So I was like god I hope I don’t panic,” says O’Brien. He didn’t, and the result was indescribable. “When you’re on fire in the barrel, the whole wave lights up fluorescent orange. It’s a really crazy feeling that you can’t even explain.”

It’s not an easy (or safe) process, but the result is a brilliantly illuminated surfer in the middle of the dark ocean. “It was pretty insane,” he says.

Check out Tim McKenna's and Ben Thouard's unique shots in the gallery below.

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Photographer: Florian Breitenberger, Athlete: Xavier "Sherwy" Pasamonte, Location: Wildkogel, Austria

Red Bull Illume People’s Choice Award Winner announced!

The people have spoken. In what turned out to be an easy victory, Florian Breitenberger is officially crowned the people’s champ after winning the Red Bull Illume People’s Choice Award for 2013.

The award allows the public to vote for their favorite image from the 50 finalists as chosen by the judges. With more than 8300 votes on redbullillume.com, Florian’s Experimental Category shot of Xavier Pasamonte at Nine Knights Mountainbike event at Wildkogel, Austria has earned him the coveted prize. He also takes home some cutting-edge broncolor equipment.

 “I’m super stoked to win the People’s Choice Award! I was very lucky to produce this high-contrast black and white photo, combined with Xavier’s perfect style – there was such an incredible atmosphere at the event,” he says.

Despite bad weather conditions, Florian managed to capture the winning shot by getting creative: “Xavier threw that superman a few times during the event. So I found this little lake beside a wooden castle and thought about producing something different. During the sunset session, I switched off my flashes and caught Xavier backlit by the setting sun with the reflection of the water at the same time. I then adjusted the contrast in post-production.”

Growing up just south of Munich, Florian says his work is strongly influenced by the Alps: “About five years ago, I picked up my first camera and followed my friends into the mountains. It’s my passion to highlight the culture and mountains that surround me.”

After moving to Innsbruck, Austria, his passion for action sports photography grew even further. He became a team photographer for the German Salomon Freeski Team and started working for the Freeski Journal as an intern. The opportunity led him to the Nine Knights event in 2012 – where he would capture his award-winning image.

Along with the street-cred that comes with winning the People’s Choice Award, Florian also walks away with a broncolor Light Shapers Master Kit that includes an Octabox 150cm, a Strip Softbox 30x120cm and the brand new versatile Beautybox 65. The light effect possibilities that these three Softboxes offer are endless – and they’ll certainly inspire Florian to capture more jaw-dropping shots in the future.

Visit Florian Breitenberger’s website to see more of his work or head to broncolor for quality lighting gear.

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Swipe to be enlightened

The free 2013 Red Bull Illume Tablet App is available in the App Store now. Includes the top 250 images, bios, details about the shot and audio commentaries from the photographers.

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Illumination on every page!

The limited edition 2013 Red Bull Illume Photobook is available now! High-quality hardback and individually numbered, it contains the top 250 images as well as photographer bios and stories on the top 50 shots.

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