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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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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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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© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool

Adventure photography in South Africa’s Drakensberg

Photographer Kelvin Trautman recently covered athletes Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s record-breaking run in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range, notorious for its tough terrain and changeable weather. We asked Kelvin a few questions about covering the Drakensberg Grand Traverse:

How tough was it to set everything up?
It took three months of route recce’s, team meetings, hours poring over maps, back and forth with permit offices, to collate a 45 page production booklet that mapped out, in theory, how we (the film crew and myself) were to cover the event. I say ‘theory’ because as with any shoot in the mountains, mother nature often throws a seemingly faultless shoot plan out the window within a couple hours of starting.

How did you keep up with the athletes?
By helicopter and on foot. When on the ground I ran with Ryan and Ryno anywhere between 2 and 25km at a time (night and day). The remoteness of the area meant getting images out to the world posed a problem so we planned two helicopter ferries back to our mobile base camp during the attempt so that I could quickly download, tag and upload images for media.

What kind of shots were you after?
When in the air I looked to shoot images that put into perspective the remote, raw landscape. The time spent in close quarters with the athletes gave me a chance to shoot the more emotive, detailed images – I planned on shooting most of these images towards the end where Ryan and Ryno’s mental and physical exhaustion had no filter!

What difficulties did you face?

Since the Drakensberg mountain range is incredibly inaccessible, everyone had to be mountain savvy and vigilant about safety at all times. To be safe, we set aside a weather window of 10 days as to reduce the chances of running into any major weather nuances during the record attempt.

Finding the athletes was a major hassle as Ryan and Ryno could course their way along the escarpment wherever it suited. To avoid flying around aimlessly, the mobile base camp sent us GPS co-ords of the runners’ position every 20 minutes.

How did you gear up?
I divvied my gear into two bags. A helicopter bag and a running bag. The heli bag obviously contained a much wider array of gear when compared to the much lighter, slimmed down running pack.

The helicopter bag included the following:
Lowerpro Rover Pro 45L backpack
Nikon D4, D800 camera bodies
Nikon 400mm, 70-20mm, 105mm macro, 24-70mm, 50mm, 14-24mm, 16mm fisheye lenses
A Manfrotto monopod
Two spare camera batteries per body
Four 32G x800 Lexar CF and four Lexar 32G SD memory cards
A couple Hoya filters, namely a 77mm ND4, and variable density

The running bag included the following:
Lowerpro Rover Pro 35L backpack
Nikon D610 camera body
Nikon 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 14-24mm
A couple spare camera batteries
A Nikon SB-900 Speedlight plus a Pocket Wizard mini TT1 and Flex TT5 transmitter and transceiver
Two 32G x800 Lexar CF and two Lexar 32G SD memory cards

Be sure to check out Kelvin’s website or follow him on Twitter.

© David Carlier

Shooting the FWT with David Carlier

The pressure and challenges of covering an entire event series can be super tough. From his experience of shooting at every Freeride World Tour event in the season, Red Bull Illume finalist David Carlier offers some insight and tips about what is expected of event photographers:

How do you prepare?
In order to be ready for the series, I train a lot... biking, ski touring, langlauf skating, etc. I also do a lot of mountaineering, meaning I can reach shooting locations where other photographers can’t go easily or without a mountain guide. This gives me a lot of flexibility in my job and the chance to find great shooting angles.

Tell us about a typical day…
Up very early with the first riders, I climb to the start gate with them to capture those unique moments at sunrise to then position myself in the face at a strategic location.

Then it’s 4-5 hours of intense shooting until the comp is over. After that I rush to the edit room to download photos and work on the post prod in order to extract a 30 best of photos selection in 60 minutes to dispatch to media around the world.

How do you keep a fresh eye?
People are now used to those freeriding photos with huge cliff drops and flying powder. So it’s a real challenge to always find new angles and original framing. In a regular photoshoot we normally have a full day or more to come up with a series of images.

With an event like FWT, we do not have this luxury. The riders choose their lines and most of the time I don't even know where they will come from! So I need to move fast, be able to react to any situation and keep a "fresh eye" on what is happening in order to capture that one shot that will make it in the media the next day!

How do you gear up?
Mastering my gear is obviously a very important part of the job. I shoot 90% of my images with the Nikon D800. To my eyes, the censor of that camera is by far the best out there in terms of dynamic range, color accuracy and sharpness, even if the motor is slower than on other cameras (5 frame/sec.) which doesn't bother me at all!

Check out David’s website here & visit the FWT site to see more of his epic images!


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