Innovation Information Innovation Information 04/29/2010 created by Red Bull Illume We asked our Facebook followers what they thought the most important innovations in action and adventure sports photography during the last ten years were. Here’s a cross section of what they suggested plus a couple of ours.1. The digital cameraOK, the digital camera is more than ten years old, but boy, what improvements the last decade has seen. Up until the introduction of Nikon’s D1 in 1999, digital cameras were barely considered usable by professional photographers. Now, high quality SLR cameras are increasingly affordable, opening up sports photography to anyone with a few thousand dollars and the desire to get close to the action. Whether this is a good or bad thing for the industry is debatable but the changes brought about by the digital camera are worthy of the description ‘revolutionary’.2. Post processingRiding shotgun with the digital camera is the massive and widespread increase in usage of post processing techniques. While market leader Photoshop is now 20 years old, its advancements over the past decade such as a lens correction filter, HDR imaging and red eye reduction have increased a photographer’s toolkit exponentially. Additionally, programs such as image management application Lightroom have changed a photographer’s entire post-shoot workflow unrecognizably. Photos can be easily imported, organized, selected and rated, single or batch processed and made ready for print or digital presentation all with one software application.3. High ISO capabilitiesAnother step for digital away from its analog predecessors has been the increase in cameras with high ISO capabilities. Whereas the Fuji Superia film boasted the highest ever ISO value of 1600, the Leica M9, Nikon D3s and Canon Mark IV boast standard ISOs of between 2500 and 10,800 and expanded ISOs of beyond 100,000. Such values make it possible to shoot in darker environments and photographers can easily adjust to challenging lighting situations yet still take advantage of ambient light rather than resorting to flash equipment.4. Remote control devicesIf you’ve ever tripped over a cable and sent your mega-expensive flash crashing to the floor, you’ll know exactly why remote control devices are on this list. Wireless technology allows photographers to quickly set up cameras and flashes without impeding the action or subject. Convenient to say the least and the gadgetry and sync times will only get better.5. Underwater camera housingTake a look through any surf magazine and you’ll notice a plethora of surfing shots taken below the surface. Underwater surf photography is now commonplace, but it wasn’t until 2001 that SEACAM introduced an underwater camera housing for a high-end digital camera, in this case the Nikon D1/D1X/D1H models. As a result getting up close – and underneath – the surfers is now much easier, and the way the sport is photographed has changed completely.6. Improved flash memoryFlashcards have become bigger, faster and more reliable. In the early years of digital, the action was quicker than the card, meaning that the photographer could easily miss out on getting the shot. As memory write speed and frames per second increase such as on SanDisk's 64Gb ExtremePro card, even images with huge resolutions can be taken in split-second stills, benefiting sequence shots particularly. Larger memory capacity means hundreds of photos can be taken at an event without the risk of maxing out the memory card.7. Athletes and talentTricks and over-used locations get old, fast. Photographs have to ‘wow’ and do it constantly to stand out from the ocean of action sports photos in magazines and across the internet. So it’s thanks to the athletes pushing themselves to try something new, fun or sometimes astonishing that has moved action and adventure sports forward, keeping an inspiring but vicious circle going, often at their personal risk.7. Helicopter camerasAs well as getting close to the action, photographers can now get above it. Radio controlled helicams and low altitude aerial photography craft have enabled photographers to access hard to reach locations and get closer to the subject than conventional aerial methods. Photographers can now capture bird’s eye perspectives at interesting angles to heights up to 300m above ground, particularly useful for surf or B.A.S.E. photographers trying to give a fresh view on a much photographed location.8. On board POV camerasPoint-of-view cameras such as the GoPro have revolutionized the sense of perspective in action sports. The athlete can now be the photographer, or vice versa, and capture the thrill of the action as they experience it. Since the start of the 2000s, lightweight, shock- and water-proof cameras have been integrated into goggles, helmets, neoprene straps and even diving masks. Photos are then taken using a trigger and wireless technology. POV shots have since added a new dimension to surf, kayak, snowboarding and MTB photography. As camera resolutions increase, we believe we’ll be seeing more and more POV images in the media.10. People and NetworksThrough the explosion of specialist media on photography techniques and equipment as well as social networks and image hosting websites such as Flickr, photographers now work in an open community where everything can be shared. Online since 2004, Flickr claims to host four billion images, of which most are readily accessible by anyone with a computer. The internet and sites like Flickr are the ultimate resource, and they’re free.Agree with our choices? Post your comments on our Facebook page.