Lights go on in Sweden!

Lights go on in Sweden!

© Anders Neuman/Red Bull Content Pool

© Anders Neuman/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Illume kicked off its exhibition tour stop in Gothenburg, Sweden last night. After the sun went down, the open-air exhibition was unveiled on dazzling lightboxes in the heart of Sweden’s second largest city, at Gustaf Adolfs Torg. 

Among the guests at the opening event was photographer Dimitrios Kontizas, who before the event had still not seen his own image of BASE jumpers leaping from a cliff at a Red Bull Illume exhibition: “I was really pumped to be visiting Sweden,” he says. “Having my picture among the Top 50 of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest is something I could not have imagined and I was really excited to see it on display for the first time at such a spectacular exhibition alongside the fantastic work of my colleagues!”

Swedish photographer Elias Kunosson, also a Top 50 finalist, attended the exhibit with the athlete in his shot: “It's a great honor to have my photograph in the Red Bull Illume exhibition next to some of the biggest names in the action and adventure sports photography. And it's really cool to be here with Fredrik “Frog” Berggren, the star of my shot!”

The exhibition in Gothenburg is on every evening, from 5pm to 11pm, until November 23. You can find more info here

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The Votes are in…

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 saw thousands of adventure and action sports photos submitted to the contest. A judging panel of renowned photo editors from all over the world chose 55 finalists with one overall winner. Since 2016, the images have traveled to major cities and cultural hubs around the world as part of a global Exhibit Tour - but the contest didn't end there!

© Anthony Favennec / Red Bull Illume

The top 275 photos competed once again. The difference? The fans decided who won. The Public Choice Award was a great chance for followers of Red Bull Illume to pick their favorite shots from the top 275 images.

It’s with great excitement that we can announce the official winner of the Public Choice Award for the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016. A huge congratulations goes out to Anthony Favennec! There was fierce competition for the number one spot and some stunning images in the running. However, as the polls came to a close last Friday on June 15, it was Anthony’s photo that came out on top.

The photo is an exceptional play on a natural, backlit composition and was captured, as the photographer describes, “on the only sunny day of winter 2015 in Brittany; the kind of day that allows you to ride your BMX without the need for an indoor skatepark. I taped my camera on the rear pegs of my bike with a lot of gaffer tape”. (Read the full story here)

Want to win the world`s greatest adventure and action sports photography contest? For a chance to take part and claim victory, stay tuned at redbullillume.com for the next edition in 2019.

Be sure to head over to our Gallery if you want to see the Top 275 images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 and learn more about how the shots were created.

Shooting wide with adventure and action sports photographer Jason Halayko

Jason explains why and how to shoot with wide-angle lenses - so you don't get kicked in the head by a break dancer. Experience is wisdom!

© Jason Halayko

1. Why shoot wide for adventure and action sports photography?

I find there are several reasons I use a wide-angle lens while shooting adventure and action sports photography. By using a wide lens, you can get really close in on the action and capture dynamic angles that put the viewer in a position they would almost never be able to achieve on their own. Also, a lot of times I will want to put both the take off and the landing (along with the sick action of course) all in one photo. By using a wide-angle lens I can do this while also being closer to the action myself, which is often more practical when thinking about having to move around quickly at a busy event. Another advantage of using wide-angle (especially fisheye) lenses is that it can make your subject seem to be jumping quite a bit higher than they actually are. I will use this when shooting smaller jumps to make them more exciting for the viewer and more epic for the athlete as well.

2. Which wide-angle lenses are in your bag?

I currently have a Nikon 16mm fisheye, Nikon 24mm 1.4 prime, and a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8.

3. What’s the biggest challenge with wide-angle lenses?

I would say one of the biggest challenges I have had shooting wide-angle lenses would be safety. With these lenses (again, especially the fisheye) you end up getting much closer than you realize at times. I have been millimeters away from a snowboarder, been almost hit by motorbikes, and even got kicked in the head by a breakdancer once at a Red Bull BC One event. It hurt, but everyone was fine, hahaha.

Also, when shooting with wide-angle lenses you get so much more in your image than you would with a 200mm lens, so you really need to be aware of what you are capturing other than just the action. Is your camera bag in the shot? Are people you don’t want there in the shot?

4. A 200mm lens is usually recommended for shooting football. Why is this different when it comes to adventure and action sports?

Compared to shooting football, practicality wise, it would be impossible to have even one photographer on the pitch shooting up close with a wide-angle lens. They would get in the way and be a danger to themselves and the players they are trying to capture. However, during most adventure or action sports events, take skateboarding for example, it is possible to have a few photographers inside the park shooting right up close to the action. I have shot like this in the past and it can be quite intense, but very fun for sure. You just have to be aware of what’s going on.

Also, I think when shooting a sport like football you want more close up shots of just the player(s) with the ball so a 200mm plus lens is best for cutting out unwanted information and getting a nice dynamic action shot, but for adventure and action sports it can be very important to get the whole environment of the action in the shot. I find the best images give the viewer a real sense of where the action is taking place.

5. Any crucial tips for shooting fisheye?

Have courage to get close to the action, but safety should be your first concern. I find the best fisheye images are ones taken super up close to the action, literally having the camera several centimeters from the subject. However, by getting so close with your body you can be putting yourself and the athlete in unwanted danger, so I often hold the camera with one hand and hold out my arm while keeping my body back and ready to dive out of the way if needed (and I have done this in the snow a couple times).  When shooting in this way it can be difficult to properly frame, time, and focus your images though so shooting at a high frame rate while using a continuous focus mode can help you get more usable images as well. 

6. You’ve been trying out 360º cameras right?

I have recently picked up a 360 camera and have been enjoying playing with it for the last month or so. So far I have been mainly using it for my InstaStories and things like this, but as I learn better how to use it I think it would be fun to add a few 360 images here and there to my shots taken with my normal camera. With the current apps out there it is actually really easy to edit your images on the fly so I think adding a few 360 images to a stack of event shots is not all that impossible these days. I am excited to see what I can get with my 360 camera in the near future.

See more of Jason's work on his Website and Instagram.

Why Markus Berger went the extra mile to make these incredible images

Getting shots of athletes leading up to the Olympics is never easy – the Olympics likes it that way. Try to connect your visual material with anything vaguely Games-related, and you’re risking a lawsuit.

© Markus Berger

That’s just one reason why, when photographer Markus Berger was commissioned by Red Bull to produce a photo series with some of the participating athletes, he had to get creative. The other reason why? To make incredible photos, of course. The goal? Make the athletes look awesome – with a nod to a authentic Korean culture.

Markus explains. “We had athletes from different countries, performing different winter sports, and  wanted to come up with a concept that would tell the complete story in one striking visual,” says Markus. Not easy to imagine, and not easy to execute. “At first we were looking into manga art and other modern comic styles but had to accept that manga is 100% Japanese and that there is no specific comic style attributed to Korea. Our research then led us to traditional Korean painting, sketching and calligraphy. Teaming up with Korean artist Chan Jun Jung, we were able to create a harmonious mix of these art forms. We also created a story behind the images by adding creatures that either live in Korea, or are deeply bound to Korean mythology.”

What he created was a mix of the reality and fantasy – combining striking original art with striking poses. It’s an impressive feat – while the athletes (and art) were still, the final images were anything but.

More impressive: they did this in the brief moments between the athlete’s pre-Games training. Markus and his assistant custom-built a set that they could easily take apart and reassemble. This allowed them to bring the shoot to the athletes by transporting all their gear in two small trucks. 

"We ended up building and shooting at parking lots, school gyms and photo studios, often travelling more than 300km each day between the locations and shoots. Eventually, the whole project ended up being one big road trip that was really fun and brought the whole team together. By the end of it, the set-up just became automatic.”

To see more work from Markus, head over to his website, Facebook, Instagram and 500px.

Gallery: 7 Awe-Inspiring Climbing Shots

Climber or non-climber, there are certain perspectives that just make you stop and wonder. First, for the athletes that seem to blur the lines between dedication and daredevilry. Second, for the nature that these athletes are exposed to and third, for the photographers that accomplish astonishing feats of bringing these perspectives to life.

To get you out and on the wall, we present 7 images from Red Bull Illume that make our palms sweat

© Ken Etzel / Red Bull Illume

Feel inspired? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more adventure and action sports!

Shooting BMX in Morocco with Jason Colledge

The one crazy moment we did have on the trip was running away from the police I guess. That was a weird situation that didn't need to be like that.

© Jason Colledge

What are your basic stats?

My name is Jason Colledge, some people know me as Fooman. I am 29 years old from Torquay, England. I ride BMX and spend most of my time taking photos of BMX too.

How did you start shooting BMX?

Well I finished school not knowing what to do. I was doing carpentry with my Dad and had decided this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life. I was told I needed further education so I decided to do something fun. Art and design was my choice. The first year covered every aspect of art and the second year we were able to specialise what we studied. I chose photography. Taking photos of BMX was natural for me, as I had always ridden my BMX growing up.

You recently went to Morocco?

So I’m actually working for UnitedBikeCo as the brand/team manager and of course shooting photographs for them. We were out in Morocco to film the second instalment of a video series called “No Foreign Lands”. We are just a crew of friends doing what we love and documenting it as we go.

The crew consisted of Sebastian Anton, Fernando laczko, Ben Gordon, Harry Mills Wakley, Justin Care, Tom Deville and Filmer Peter Adam.

What were your impressions of Morocco and how was it shooting there?

This was my first time there and I really didn’t know what to expect. It was apparent that there isn’t a lot of money here but everyone seemed to be happy and very closely knit; just like one big community. The hospitality was incredible too. I’ve never felt so welcome before in my life. We had it pretty easy in all honesty; we stayed at a great hostel and were spoilt big time. We had a van and a spot guide to show us around all the spots so we couldn’t complain. As for taking photos, Morocco is probably every photographers dream. Everywhere you look posed as a photographic moment.

Morocco isn’t usually associated with action sports… how did the locals react?

To be honest this worked in our favour. We had one run in with security that resulted in the police being called out, but most of the time the locals or security would have no idea what we were up to and when we explained, they would encourage us to ride. I think they liked to see this as it was new to them.

What challenges did you face on the trip?

I think the most obvious challenge for everyone was the heat. Morocco is known for its 300 days of sun and we had picked a week that was forecasted to rain every day. We ended up with one day of rain and the rest was scorching hot sun, so I think finding shade was the biggest challenge. The only challenge I had whilst shooting photos would be carrying my heavy bag about in such heat. I managed to get a nose bleed whilst shooting a photo on one of the days due to the dry heat, it was so weird.

Does Morocco have its own BMX scene?

Morocco does have its own BMX scene, it was quite a small scene but the riders were super friendly and weren’t shy of killing it whilst we were there.

Any favourite from the trip?

I think a favourite moment for everyone, (apart from Justin), was trying all the local food on offer.

Another favourite would be riding the mopeds there. These things were everywhere and the locals were more than happy to let us jump on them and blast about which was super fun to do. The one crazy moment we did have on the trip was running away from the police I guess. That was a weird situation that didn’t need to be like that.

Where else have you shot BMX and what have been some of your favourite trips?

I am fortunate to have travelled quite a bit all from riding my bike and taking photos. I have travelled all over Europe, been to the States, Australia and now Africa. Every trip has its own quality so it is hard to choose a favourite. I get to hang out with friends and do what I love so it really is hard to pick one. Alicante on a “Young Bloods” trip is definitely up there though. This trip was pretty much perfect; four of my best friends, Harry Mills Wakley, Sam Jones, Jordan Godwin and Callum Earnshaw, plus beautiful weather with an endless amount of spots to ride. The party life was on point too.

What else do you shoot outside of BMX?

Well I do like to shoot pet portraits, sucker for that. Automotive photography is an aspect of photography I have always been fond of. I just like to shoot subjects that I have an interest in really.

Any tips or advice for aspiring action sport photographers?

Don’t be shy to try something different; if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work. It’s all trial and error. Learn from your mistakes. Oh and be prepared to carry a heavy bag full of camera equipment haha.

For a free zine about Jason’s trip to Morocco, ask your local Unitedbikeco dealer.

The video from the trip can be viewed here.

To see more of Jason’s work, check out his website and Instagram.

Shooting break dancers in the canals of Amsterdam with Broncolor

Add Dramatic Light with a Silver Beauty Dish

Bboy Shane and Bboy Menno dancing on a canal in Amsterdam

By Rutger Pauw

When I found out Red Bull Netherlands hosted the world finals of their BC One breakdance competition, I pitched an idea to them of having break dancers spinning and jumping on the water of an Amsterdam canal with out the use of post production.

They liked the idea, and we ended up building a wooden platform just under the water surface that supported the weight of the dancers, it was connected to a wooden jetty that was big enough to have our lights and crew on. With the photo taken from low down, the under water platform wasn’t noticeable, and it made for a very dynamic image.

I used a fisheye to get really close to the dancers, and get water splashes near the lens.

Two Siros L 400’s were used to light the dancers, with one of the lights holding a silver beauty dish on a boom stand, so the light could ‘hover’ above the water to get more dramatic light. The HS function made sure all those drops in the air were nicely frozen, although I ended up lowering the shutter speed just a little to get a tiny bit of movement in there, adding a feeling of movement.

Since this was a collaboration with Samsung, they were keen to also get some slow mo footage with their own Galaxy phone, which ended up being quite fun to experiment with. The modelling light on the Siros is flicker free,  and still very bright during the day, so I used them in the same position as in the still images to fill in the dancers, which gave us a nice light balance with the sun coming from the back.

About Rutger Pauw

The thing I like most about photography is that it’s like riding bikes. It allows me to come up with ideas and tricks I haven’t seen before. Somehow that’s what has always intrigued me most. It’s a little personal victory, maybe unnoticed by others but the feeling of having created something you haven’t seen before is why I take photos.

See the original story from Broncolor here.

Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Jaanus Ree shoots action sports… and his cat!

Very few action sports photographers will tell you their favorite photo is of their cat, but, here we are. Jaanus Ree, based out of Estonia, travels 300 days a year, and shoots almost everything under the sun.

© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume

Your first ‘pro’ job wasn’t pro at all!  

I injured myself during a windsurfing competition. Since all the action was out in the sea, the only option to get close was in the media boat. So I borrowed a camera from a friend, and said that I am shooting for an Estonian newspaper. Not really true. The first day it was more about enjoying action on the water, but in the end it was all about getting some stunning photos. I started to love it and decided to get deeper into it. I enrolled in art school and shot everything from politics to plants! 

What’s your favorite image you’ve ever taken?

I love to answer this: it's a photo of my cat. People don’t know what to say! But seriously, it is one of my favourites… and it was even good enough to make it to the Red Bull Illume Finals. But besides that there are a lot of others: The Northern Lights project with golfers in Norway was stunning. A figure skater on a frozen bog, Jason Paul jumping into the airplane comes into the mind every time I board for a flight, and many more.  

What’s different and what’s similar in your work? 

All the sports I shoot involve athletes and nature or scenery. But every sport needs to have a different aproach. Although my main sports are rally and rally cross I try to do all sorts of other shoots as much as possible. They give me inspiration and new ideas to try in rally – or the other way around. I love playing around with lights... sometimes too much. 

You do not travel light.  

If I go to a rally event then I have around three bodies, 24-70, 20mm, 70-200, 24 tilt-shift, 85 tilt-shift, 85mm 1.4 for portraits, 16mm fisheye, Elinchrom ELD 500 and 1200, loads of PW transmitters. Depending on a specific event also 400mm. I have loads of selfmade gear from laser triggers to special tripods what I might carry around. I always have proper rain clothing and plastic bags as well as duct tape to protect the equipment when the weather turns bad. 

Most gear ever? 

If I go to a rally cross (rally on a circuit) then I pack some more lenses and cameras, and a few extra remotes. The maximum so far has been 7 cameras, 12 lenses , 15 transmitters.  It took 3 hours to prepare 10 minutes of shooting but then all the best locations were covered and I could only press a few buttons while watching the action! 

Are you an artist, or a technician? 

I’m a technician. I studied 2 years together with artists. It’s a bit different to the job I am doing today. Sure, some of my pictures can be displayed in galleries and exhibitions but I still call myself a photographer rather than an artist.

What’s more important: subject, lighting, or composition? 

The story of the picture – then composition and lighting. During my school year, I saw some photos that were out of focus with bad lighting, but super composition and story. The most interesting photos are the ones where something has been done differently to how you’d expect. 

What life lessons have you learned from photography? 

Maybe the most important is how to work with people you dont know. During my school years, we had to pick a random stranger from the street and follow him for a week to make a photo story about him. The hardest part was approaching the person to begin with. It still is, but somehow I have learned that a camera and a smile can melt all the tension. 

What’s the last thing you photographed? 

It was today in Buenos Aires airport - two security guys holding my flash batteries with confused looks on their faces as they decided whether to allow me to pass or not. The photo was great but they forced me to delete it.

Your favorite sport to shoot is… 

Rally! This sport covers so much terrain, from snowy Swedish forests to dusty Australian roads. Although the locations are almost the same every year, something always changes – the road itself, the weather, the time of the day. I have been to the same ‘water splash’ spot in Mexico three years in a row, and had totally different looking photos every time.

And is it dangerous? 

To shoot rally we use remote cameras to minimize the risk and stay safe. That said – I have climbed cell phone towers, dangled off cliffs and hung out from a helicopter. Although many shoots I do look dangerous, I minimize the risk all the time.

Discover More! Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos © Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume.

Choose now! The public vote closes June 15th!

The winning images have gone global on the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour, but only you can decide the Public Choice Award!

© Fred Pompermayer / Red Bull Illume

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 once again raised the level of action and adventure sports photography. German photographer Lorenz Holder took the crown with his BMX shot on a beautiful bridge in autumnal Germany, but there’s still one more award to give away…

The winner of the Public Choice Award will, fittingly, be chosen by you! The top 275 images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 can be found in our gallery, with a vote button beneath each one. Simply pick your favorite and the photographer whose image gets the most votes will take both the title and an awesome prize package.

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to the gallery

2. Look through the photographs

3. Choose your favorite

4. Press the 'vote' button!

Be quick though! Voting closes June 15th so don’t miss out. The winner will be announced just before the start of the next Red Bull Illume Image Quest. We’ll see you there!

Japan’s National Mobile Contest winners have been announced!

Here’s who took the top 5 spots in the smartphone only photo contest!

© Takehito Takahashi / Red Bull Illume

The 55 finalist images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 are currently being displayed in downtown Tokyo as part of an international, outdoor exhibition tour. Also on show alongside the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography is the contest’s new category; the National Mobile Contest. Open only to residents of Japan, the National Mobile Contest gave aspiring photographers a chance to submit their best adventure and action sports photographs with only one twist; it must be shot on a smartphone.

The top five images stood to win their very own spot at the exhibition and a series of awesome prizes including Yodobashi gift vouchers, a G-Technology hard drive, Broncolor lighting equipment, a Red Bull Illume photo book and a souvenir courtesy of TBS; whose Japan offices stand tall above the exhibition. In total, 105 photographers submitted 131 images to the contest, with the top five selected by Yodobashi Vice President Kazunori Fujisawa, Lorenz Holder and Red Bull snowboarder Miyabi Onitsuka.

At the grand opening of the Tokyo tour stop, two-time Red Bull Illume winner Lorenz Holder announced and unveiled the top five winning images from the National Mobile Contest:

In 5th place was Kiyomasa Kawasaki with his playful shot of a BMX crew crammed into an elevator. The positive atmosphere perfectly sums up what Red Bull Illume is about; authentic connections made through a common love of action sports and photography.

Next up in 4th place was Naoki Gaman, the only female winner of Japan's National Mobile Contest. Her dramatic black and white shot of a skier at the local Mt. Fuji ski resort will get your adrenaline going just by looking at it!

Taking the 3rd place spot was Jason Halayko. His geometric composition depicts a skateboarder frozen mid-push between two Japanese symbols painted on the floor. It doesn’t get any more authentic than that!

Not entirely satisfied with 3rd place, Jason Halayko took home the number two spot as well. Using a clip-on fisheye lens on his phone, he captured a skater perfectly isolated below a bridge, with some natural sun flare to top it off.

Last but certainly not least is Takehito Takahashi, who took the top spot for Japan’s National Mobile Contest. His incredible shot didn’t just capture a sky-high BMX rider reflected in a cafe window, but also the awe-inspired reaction of his spectators who watched from inside.

Check out Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

The Tokyo exhibition opens in style

The world's greatest adventure and action sports photography goes on show at a stunning, outdoor exhibition venue in the Japanese capital.

Enthusiasts of adventure and action sports photography gathered from far and wide in Tokyo at the Akasaka Sacas commercial complex to see the opening and illumination of the contest’s 55 finalist images. Following the results of Japan’s National Mobile Contest and an entire evening of wild festivities, the public’s passion for the exhibition shone as brightly as the images themselves.

In attendance was Red Bull Illume founder Ulrich Grill, who offered some unique insights into how Red Bull Illume became the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography contest. Joining him to hand out the awards and prizes for the National Mobile Contest was Lorenz Holder; the two-time overall winner of Red Bull Illume.

Local hero DJ Rina provided an unforgettable audio experience on the turntables, whilst Red Bull’s breakdance athlete Issei and freestyle soccer player Tokura showed off their incredible moves to the amazement of a hyped-up crowd.

Judged by Yodobashi Vice President Kazunori Fujisawa, Lorenz Holder and Red Bull snowboarder Miyabi Onitsuka, the Grand Prize for the National Mobile Contest went to Takehito Takashi. The prize purse itself included an awesome selection of photography gear, such as Yodobashi gift vouchers, a G-Technology hard drive, Broncolor lighting equipment, a Red Bull Illume photo book and of course a souvenir courtesy of TBS; whose Japan offices stand tall above the exhibition.

Making their first ever appearance in Tokyo, the breathtaking photos are exhibited outdoors on stunning 2x2 meter lightboxes which are best viewed after dark. The images, including the five winning shots from the Japanese National Mobile Contest will be illuminated daily at Akasaka Sacas between 18:00 and 22:00 from April 19 until April 27, 2018. Best of all, entry is free to the public, so don’t miss out if you’re in the area!

Discover More! Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos © Suguru Saito.