Lights, Camera, Wakeboarding

©Patrick Rochon

The lengths to which photographers and athletes go to nail a shot is often extreme — especially with sights on an entry into Red Bull Illume in mind.

Just a few miles down the road from the lights and magic of Disney World and Universal studios was the setting for this light-painting photo shoot at Orlando, Florida’s OWC Cable Park. Onsite were Red Bull wake riders Adam Errington, Dallas Friday and Mike Dowdy.

After the park closed to the public, photographer Patrick Rochon shot the Red Bull Riders as they attacked the sliders and kickers on boards tricked out with intricate LED lighting. Play the video above for a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot, which took place over three nights in late March.

?The shoot – which was done in conjunction with a local Red Bull-supported photography event called Snap! Orlando – included many challenges in preparation. It’s hard enough to shoot high-speed action in the dark – add in the tasks of outfitting the boards with the waterproof LCD light systems to staging the cameras, lighting and athletes in proper position to secure the shot, and you have yourself a serious photographic mission.

Some of the most inspired by the project were the athletes themselves. “It really is my movements painting this picture and helping this photo come to life!” says Errington, the 24-year-old wakeboarder at the top of his game.

For Rochon, the set-up and planning were extensive, but the motivation while shooting was simple: “Focus on the art, the creativity, and the beauty,” said Rochon, mid-shoot. Fortunately for him, he knew he could rely on the riders to offer performances worthy of the occasion. “I’m really impressed by the athletes,” he added. “They are so fluid in the water, and they understand naturally what we are trying to do here.”

Will the effort pay off? The best images have been held back to enter into Red Bull Illume. It will now be up to the judges to decide...

How hard would you work to get a shot into Red Bull Illume Image Quest? Don’t delay – show us your stuff. The submission period ends at the end of April! Enter here. 

Snap! is a 4-day photography celebration showcasing the work of renowned photographers from May 2nd-5th.

Read the latest stories

Stephan Bednaic: What's in the bag?

Whether shooting digital or film, action sports and lifestyle photographer Stephan Bednaic says his goal is to make images that have adrenaline written all over them with a colourful visual twist. In our latest bag exploration, we look at what Stephan carries with him on assignment.

© Stephan Bednaic

As an action sports photographer, does your gear sometimes take a pounding?
“While I do look after my gear and clean it regularly, I don’t let it get in the way on shoots. Gear shouldn't be a distraction and I’m more focused on what’s happening in front of me. Because of that my equipment does have a few scratches here and there, I like to call them war scars. I did break a 85mm, it flew out of a lens pouch that was on my hip while I was running to catch up with the subject. It didn’t focus ever again, clearly my mistake.”

What’s your go-to body and lens combo?
“It would be the 5D Mark III plus the 50mm. The 5D is a great all-round body and I’m so used to the field of view of the 50 and the picture that it renders. The 50mm is a no brainer.When I pack for a shoot, I take only what I need and try to simplify my gear. As I said, gear to me is only a distraction. That’s why I use modular gear like the F-Stop bags that can be fitted to your needs or the Odin triggers that are compatible with my Speedlites and the strobe. Plus it can be used to trigger a remote camera so I have less stuff to worry about and pack.“

Any special techniques to get your shots?
“I would say it’s more of a style than a technique but I do try to put something in the foreground of the frame to simplify the picture and isolate the subject. Since I mostly use wide apertures it blurs out and adds depth and context to the picture. Also, I do like warm light and lens flares.”

You often carry a can of Red Bull with you?
“If I have free space in the bag I always throw in a can or two. You never know, ether you get thirsty or the athlete needs a little energy boost to refresh. Often I just give them to people I meet while working to represent the brand. It’s a great icebreaker and social tool. Thanks to the Red Bull team and their support I always have a few dozen cans in the fridge ready to go.”

Where do you pick up most your gear? Online?
“Online review don’t really work for me since I like to try out the gear and see if it fits my needs. That’s the main reason I support local shops when buying gear. I especially need to thank Daniel and his team at Prizma-Foto and Zoran and the Canon guys at Anigota! They always help me out and support me. I always like to stop by and chat with them about gear issues. I was lucky enough to meet the team at Sony Mobile and they hooked me up with the latest phones, perfect for that Illume Mobile category that launched this year. My advice would be to support the brands you like to work with and connect with people in the industry, it goes both ways.”

Stephan's full gear list:

Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 1V HS
Canon 15mm FE
Canon 16-35mm
Canon 45mm TS
Canon 50mm
Canon 580EXII Speedlites
Phottix Odin II triggers
Phottix Indra500
GoPro Hero 4
Peak Design Capture Pro
Card wallet with Sandisk SD/CF cards
Card reader and a backup hard drive
Sony Z5 Compact
Gaffer tape
Can or two of Redbull
Rain jacket
F-Stop Loka/Kenti with 2L hydration system
Manfrotto carbon tripod with ball head
Manfrotto Nanostands
Manfrotto 1051bac stand

View more of Stephan’s work on his website. For more of on the man himself, head to Facebook or Instagram.

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images. 

You can also get a sneak peek of the Red Bull Illume 2016 submissions on Facebook and Instagram.

In search of the Desert Diamond

Kevin Metallier and his crew find hidden skating gems in a place you’d never expect - the vast desert and tiny towns of Namibia.

© Kevin Metallier / Red Bull Content Pool

Of all the best skateboarding meccas in the world, Namibia certainly wouldn’t be the first destination on anyone’s list. Yet photographer Kevin Metallier and skateboarder Philipp Schuster saw something that most didn’t – a diamond in the rough.

The pair were joined by Olli Ilmonen, Titi Gormit, Antony Lopez and Tjark Thielker on a discovery of Namibia’s wide open spaces and silent towns. They spent two weeks cruising through the Namib desert, in search of improbable skate spots hidden beyond the dunes. They found more than they expected, including a mini-ramp nobody would believe existed.

Check out the gallery below for images of their quest or watch the ‘In Search of the Desert Diamond’ video. For more of Kevin’s work, head to his website or Instagram.

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images. 

You can also get a sneak peek of the Red Bull Illume 2016 submissions on Facebook and Instagram.

The Athlete's Perspective: Cody Townsend

No one appreciates the work of action sports photographers more than the athletes. Below, the freeskier Cody Townsend – ‘the guy who skied that crack your grandma told you to watch’ – gives them some love.

© Blake Jorgenson / Red Bull Content Pool

“The most special thing is that they’re amazing skiers and athletes themselves. They’re having to go where the athletes are having to go but with a 50lb pack on at all times. They’re always putting themselves in really weird and interesting positions, like having to climb up little ridges to find their spot. There are few other disinclines of photography other than action sports where the photographer has to be as athletic as the athlete! 

Photography has been incredibly vital to my career, from traditional media like magazines to new age digital media. Essentially people want to see beautiful images and photographers are there to service that. 

The landscape is changing but photography is still as important as it’s ever been – in many ways more important because there so much photography and so many ways to see good photography that you have to shoot even better stuff to cut through the noise and get the high quality photos out there and in front of people. 

There are a lot of great photographers I’ve worked with including Blake Jorgenson, who’s amazing. Jordan Manley is truly like an artist and Reuben Krabbe is this forward visionary, young and hungry to change the way people see photos.. 

It is important that skiing is portrayed right. I look at the Olympics when a bunch of photographers for stock companies like Getty were shooting skiing. The photos shown on the sports sections in major newspapers were just awful for a skier – terrible position, no style, no context of how big or high in the air they were, just these close up images. It just did nothing for the sport. You could tell the photographers had no idea what they were shooting as well. A skier photographer would know the sports in and out; they know the mountains they’re trying to show and the story of the skier. 

There’s probably one image of me that stands out. It was shot by Blake Jorgenson. It’s incredibly powerful for me. It shows me, cameraman and a guide standing on top of a line. It’s shot looking over the top, looking down. It has a crazy feel of anticipation and emotion and gives the feeling of getting the willies right before you drop in. It’s really powerful!”

For more about the man himself, visit Facebook and Instagram

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images.

For more regular updates, head to Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Abusing the Elements with Jaanus Ree

Windsurfers can rack up some serious speed. Combine that with dark skies and storm-swept water, and a windsurfing shoot suddendly takes on a whole different level. Check out the video to see how Jaanus Ree dealt with the challenging conditions.

Check out how Red Bull Illume photographer Jaanus Ree uses the elements to his advantage with some help from windsurfers Kristjan Kiisk and Ain Härmson, filmed by Magnus Heinmets!Click through the gallery to see the photos in high-res.

Check out more of Jaanus' work on his website, Facebook and Instagram

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images. 

You can also get a sneak peek of the Red Bull Illume 2016 submissions on Facebook and Instagram.



Craig Kolesky: What's in the bag?

Last year, Red Bull photographer Craig Kolesky joined top biker Oliver Munnik and freeski pro Fabio Struder to tackle the barren dunes of the Namib Desert. Here’s what Craig used to capture the action.

© Craig Kolesky / Red Bull Content Pool

What are some of the challenges shooting in a country like Namibia?
“Wind, heat, cold and lots of sand – we had all the elements thrown at us. We thought it would be pretty hot, but instead it was the opposite. It was pretty cold most of the time with lots of wind. After leaving the camp we were pretty much alone out there, and getting around was a huge challenge. Our crew took us around and played a huge part in getting us to good locations and keeping us safe.”

Did all your gear make it out alive?
“The gear was pretty wrecked with sand. I’m actually still taking sand out of my gear and bags from that trip. Iain Weir and Anton Nelson who joined us on the trip often send me pics of sand coming out of random places while they’re packing.”

How often do you use the multi-tool?
“The multi-tool goes all over the world with me. Actually, each bag I own has its own multi-tool. Sounds weird, but I like gadgets – I use them all the time to fix things, cook, etc. Someone on the team will always need one, so I never leave it behind.”

Looking back, what other items do you wish you had with you?
“More snacks and beer! Haha! I think we had all our bases covered in teams of gear. Although… we were limited in terms of power to charge the gear. We only had power for about 6 hours a day, so I think we should have have taken our own generator with.”

Craig’s full gear list:

Fstop Ajna pack, this was the prototype
Nikon D4s
Nikon D800
Nikon D750
Nikon 70-200
Nikon 24-70
Nikon 14-24
Nikon 16mm
Nikon 50mm
Pocket Wizards
Peak Design strap
Lexar Memory Cards
Spare batteries
SeatoSummit DryBag
Salomon windshell
Cadence Gels
Llama Bar snacks
Salomon Hydration bottles
Solar Panel and power bank
Red Bull

View the entire 'Duneriders Namibia' gallery at Red Bull Photography. For more of Craig’s awesome shots, head to his website. And for more on the man himself, visit Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images. 

You can also get a sneak peek of the Red Bull Illume 2016 submissions on Facebook and Instagram.

The Athlete's Perspective: Eero Ettala

Photographers rock. Below, Red Bull snowboarder Eero Ettala gives it up for the guys working behind the lens – and explains why they’re so important for the sport.

© Heikki Sorsa

“I grew up in an era when the biggest thing you could achieve was a featured interview or cover in a magazine. So I always loved shooting photos and working with photographers. It still is important but everything is going to Instagram and Facebook immediately so doesn’t have quite the same impact as it used to.

Photography has definitely been huge to my career. I always filmed video but getting good photos was as important as having good video footage. And there have definitely been a few ground breaking photos that I got over the years working with my local photographer Pasi Salminen. 

I wouldn’t be here without him, without his photos. He’s the guy who has all the gear – the big van, the generator, the lights, the winch. So if you’re coming from the US, you just got to bring yourself and your snowboard and you’ll be fine with Pasi. On top of that his photos are amazing.

There was one that definitely made my name bigger. It was the second day I shot with him and the image was used for an ad for Nitro, in TransWorld photo annual, and it ended up being in five or six different mags. Was a breaking moment for Pasi as well, a really good thing for both of us.

Sometimes you work with photographers who don’t want to help with shovelling, they just look for angles for two hours – anything but help build! But Pasi’s the kind of guy who helps out building first and only ten minutes before does he starts looking for angles. Having a photographer that helps makes the team stronger. 

You really need to understand the sports. You have to shoot at the right time and right angle to show the trick the best. The way you spin and slide down the rail – there’s always that one angle that makes it look the best. There’s a huge advantage to being a boarder from before. A lot of local newspapers’ photos end up being just of a guy in the sky and that doesn’t make any sense.

Red Bull Illume is awesome. A lot of time photographers don’t get enough credit as they deserve. They’re behind, making the magic. So it’s rad that the photographers have a contest. But it’s not easy. There are so many great photographers out there, I’m blown away. It’s a tough battle! But its reputation encourages photographers to submit more of their photos and it makes the whole contest bigger and more respected. It’s the olympics of extreme sports photography!” 

For more about the man himself, visit Facebook and Instagram.

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images.

For more regular updates, head to Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Get a sneak peek of the submissions!

Entries to Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 reached a record-breaking level, and the quality of submissions completely blew the judges away. To celebrate these talented photographers, we are offering photography fans and curious entrants the first sneak peek at these images.

Jean-Baptiste Liautard / Red Bull Illume Submission 2016

Red Bull Illume 2016 saw 34.624 images submitted by 5.645 photographers from 120 countries around the world. And from June 1, 2016 we’ll start releasing randomly selected shots out of all entries via our social channels – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The submissions show action and adventure sports photography at its best, and come from an astounding number of disciplines ranging from rock climbing and high-lining to free-diving, skateboarding and snow sports. They show these sports performed in jaw-dropping locations around the world, captured using spectacular angles and innovative and inspiring photographic techniques.

Following the judging process the 55 best shots, including the various winners, will be unveiled and honored at the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony in Chicago, USA on September 28, 2016

Stay tuned to for the latest info and follow us Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a glimpse of the greatest action and adventure photography you’re ever likely to see.

Yodobashi Father's Day wish list

With the big day coming up fast, we've compiled a list of Yodobashi products that your old man is sure to enjoy.

Yodobashi Store, Tokyo, Japan

Father’s Day is less than three weeks away! Thankfully, new Red Bull Illume partner Yodobashi stocks just-about everything your photo-loving or tech-savvy dad could ever need. Regardless of whether your dad shoots with a DSLR, point-and-shoot, or mobile  – you’re bound to find something he’ll love when browsing through Yodobashi’s massive selection of products. Check out the selection of products below:


“Extra sensitivity, wide dynamic range, accurate focusing, and unshakeable stability to shoot with solid assurance.”
Read the Yodobashi shooting report >

“Small, simple to use and offering exceptional image quality.”
Read the Yodobashi shooting report >

“The first mirrorless system camera of its kind, offering an impressive range of innovative features – and rugged resilience.”
Read the Yodobashi shooting report >

Canon EOS 5Ds R
“Shattering the status quo with a new 50.6 Megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor and dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors.”
Read the Yodobashi shooting report >


SONY SEL2470GM FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM
“Constant F2.8 24-70mm zoom with an unprecedented union of high resolution and creamy bokeh.”
Read the Yodobashi shooting report >

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/35 ZM
“Showing no compromises in image quality, this lens also shines with its high speed and universal angle of view.”
Read the Yodobashi shooting report >

Find out more about Yodobashi and their products on their photography page or website. And if you submitted an image to Red Bull Illume 2016, you could be in line to receive even more gear – a Yodobashi voucher to the value of €40,000, awarded to the Overall Winner.

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images. 

For more regular updates, head to Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Tim Kemple: What's in the bag?

As a child, photographer and film maker Tim Kemple spent his weekends documenting his adventures while climbing, skiing and wandering around the American East Coast. In our latest gear exploration, we look at how his collection of gear has grown since then.

© Tim Kemple

Is a cat is an essential part of any adventure photographer’s gear?
“No, but it’s interesting how the addition of a cat makes the photo a little alive in a sea of non-organic gear isn’t it?”

You’ve got 5 seconds to grab 3 pieces of gear - go!
“My iPhone, a charging cable and an external battery. Because if there’s that much of a hurry, the story is so good that it doesn’t matter what I shoot on. And if I've got my phone I can share it right away.”

Do you carry anything that no one else has? 
“Yeah a jar of special sauce that I sprinkle before I start shooting. It gives my photos that extra punch I think... Seriously though, I think I carry way more primes than most other photographers I know. Like I shoot exclusively on primes. A lot of them.”

If you could add one item to your pack?

“There is never any space left in any of my packs, just ask anyone whoever has assisted me. That said, if there is a bit of room I’ll probably try to squeeze in an extra strobe.”

For more of Tim’s work, head to his website and Instagram

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images. 

For more regular updates, head to Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

The Athlete's Perspective: Gavin McClurg

This week Red Bull X-Alps athlete and yachtsman Gavin McClurg explains why he wouldn’t be able to do expeditions without the shots of photographer Jody MacDonald, whose image of him flying above dunes in Mozambique was a category finalist in 2013.

Red Bull Illume 2013: Jody MacDonald, Illumination category finalist

© Jody MacDonald / Red Bull Illume

“I look at Red Bull Illume as being incredibly inspiring to photographers and athletes. As an athlete, imagery is everything to us. That’s how we keep our career going. I wouldn’t be able to do these type of expeditions without sponsorship; sponsors would never sponsor me without images.

Red Bull Illume was huge to Jody’s career, which has directly affected my career as well. It’s probably the hardest adventure photography contest to get an image into and if you do get in, you’re the real deal; the level of professionalism there – there’s nothing else that compares.

I really like the images that draw you, the viewer – the armchair sailor in to that environment; an image that really allows people to imagine what you as the pilot or skipper are experiencing. As pilots we always talk about the aesthetic of flying. Any image that captures that ultimate freedom of flight without a motor – those ones in the air where you’re surfing over insane terrain –  those are my favorites.

Photographers often work harder. Jody doesn’t do anything other than photography. She’s either shooting or she’s on her computer all day, day after day, it’s insane. For an athlete, especially when you participate in something dangerous like paragliding, you only like working with certain people. Jody’s really my favorite as she’s shot so much paragliding, she gets really unique stuff. I really like working with her because she understands how it works and will never ask me to do something that compromises my safety. 

A favorite image of me? Probably the dune shots from Mozambique. Those really stand out. No one had ever flown that dune. It’s massive, 20 miles long! We sailed there from Madagascar and we looked up at this massive island of sand, and we were like ‘holy shit’. To actually fly it and then to get those images? What’s interesting is what happened when we got back. These huge swells broke the dingy off anchor and demolished it. We spent the night wrapped up in one of the tandem gliders. We had no food, no water. We had flown all day so we were super dehydrated. God it was a miserable night. The next morning, I was able to get the engine up, I don’t know how, it was full of sand and shit. I got everyone back to the boat and about two minutes later the engine block literally broke open. Those pictures encapsulate that whole story. Sailing there from Madagascar, finding this incredible place. We got those pictures that one day. That was it. It was a pretty special time.”

More stunning images of Gavin in the air can be found on his website. For more about the man himself, visit Facebook and Instagram. To read about his latest paragliding expedition, head over to Red Bull X-Alps.  

Keep coming back to for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images.

For more regular updates, head to Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.