Lucas Gilman: What's in the bag?

Red Bull Illume’s exploration into the bags of action and adventure sports photographers continue, as we take a look at what Lucas Gilman has stashed away. Turns out, there's a lot.

© Lucas Gilman

Impressive collection you have there! How long has it taken to build it up?

“I’ve been shooting professionally for almost 18 years. My first camera was a Nikon FM2 with a NIKKOR 50mm lens back in the film days and I’ve continued with Nikon through my journey as a photographer and now filmmaker. There’s something about being comfortable with your gear. It becomes an extension of you. When that happens you can really focus on being creative and not on the technology. There’s a camera and lens for every job. I use the Nikon D5, D500, D810 & D4s along with a grocery list of NIKKOR lenses. The Nikon D5 is so fast. It seems like you can never fill the buffer. The only bummer is I come back with like 16,000 images from an afternoon of shooting at 12 frames-per-second.”

What’s your go-to body and lens combo?

“My go-to camera and lens has to be the Nikon D810 and the Nikkor 24-70mm VR f/2.8 lens. I’m always looking to squeeze as much quality out of each frame as possible and the 36+ MP and super fast 24-70mm allows me to do that. If I’m going to take one lens the 24-70mm is it. It’s wide enough to shoot landscapes and at 70mm it’s a great short telephoto. Recently I’ve been using the Nikon D500 more for shooting surfing as it shoots 10 fps and the autofocus points cover almost the entire frame. Plus the D500 is a crop sensor so I get an apparent 1.5 crop from my full-frame lenses. So my 300mm f/2.8 becomes a 450mm f/2.8, which is rad.”

What’s up with the machete?

“I’ve been shooting kayaking for years in some of the deepest darkest jungles in the world. It pays to have a solid machete when bushwhacking your way through snakes, spiders and God knows what.”

Got anything else no one else has?

“A Gerber tactical pen. It could help you out of a sticky situation if you get cornered by a mugger/kidnapper or break a car window if you are trapped inside. I’ve almost been kidnapped by Zapatista’s in Mexico and held up by knifepoint in the past. I also carry a first aid kit decked out like it could be in a war zone. You can never be too prepared.”

Any items you wish you could add to your bag? 

“The kitchen sink! Jokes aside, I travel with a lot of gear. This gear list doesn’t even take into account the video production gear. The last thing I want to have happen is to get to a location and be like, “Man if I only had X, Y and Z.” My dream piece of gear would be a 100+ MP camera with a global shutter that would sync at any flash speed. That would be epic. Oh and it would shoot 6K, 8K, 10K or whatever the video K is on the horizon.”

What keeps you excited and fresh?

“When you shoot professionally it’s easy to get into a creative rut. I like to do things that I don’t get paid for and try out new techniques and technology. Recently I’ve started shooting motion control time lapses with the Kessler Second Shooter Plus and the Elysia Visuals RamperPro. I’ve been working on the Holy Grail: day-to-night and night-to-day time lapses. The RamperPro allows for auto bulb ramping, which is a huge advancement. On the stills side, I’m working on using more battery powered portable strobes in the field like the Profoto B1’s or now the new broncolor Siros L’s to make my images more dynamic and visually impactful. I like to try out new techniques and then implement them into the paid gigs once I’ve got them down.”

Any tips for aspiring photographers?
"Yeah for sure. I do as much research as possible on the location I'm heading to. The important things to me are:

What time is sunrise/sunset and where does the sun rise and set (I use an iPhone app called Sun Surveyor on location for this as well)

Create a daily shoot plan to maximize your shooting and focus on being at the prime locations at the golden hours.

What's the projected weather - You want to be warm and dry and also keep your gear safe. So you can focus on being creative.

Are there any interesting landmarks I should put on my shoot list? Google Earth has millions of images geotagged with different locations use it to your advantage.

Figure out how much memory you’ll need for the project. I shoot with the D810 which is 36+ megapixels so I bring plenty of SanDisk CF & SD cards. Remember, you will probably shoot more than you think and the last thing you want to be doing as the light is getting perfect is deleting images. Also, plan on backing up your images onto multiple drives. The G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC is my go-to in the field because it’s waterproof and shockproof. The reason I backup in the field is you never know when your gear will get nabbed so keeping backup copies geographically separated is key. For instance I’ll have one of the athletes on the expedition hold on to a drive in case my gear is stolen. There is no second chance to make a Red Bull Illume winning image. You’d hate to lose it."

 

The Full Gear List:

Top Left Tile:Nikon D5Nikon D4sNikon D810Nikon D500Nikon 1 AW1 + NIKKOR 10mm f/2.8 AWAF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2 VRAF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8AF-S NIKKOR 800-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VRAF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 VRIIAF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4 PF VRAF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 VRAF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 Micro VRMF NIKKOR 500mm Reflex f/8 (mirror)AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4 VRAF NIKKOR 105mm F/2 DCAF-S NIKKOR 60mm f2.8 Micro AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4AF NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8 FisheyeNikon R1 Wireless Close-Up Speedlight SystemTC-14e III TeleconverterTC-20e III TeleconverterNikon Extension Bellow PB-6eNikon SB5000 SpeedlightsFenix 1000 Lumen FlashlightGiottos Rocket Air BlasterWR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter MINDSHIFT Hive Mini Filter Case x 2Formatt-Hitech 3 Stops Firecrest ND or ProStop IRNDFormatt-Hitech 6 Stops Firecrest ND or ProStop IRNDFormatt-Hitech 10 Stops Firecrest ND or ProStop IRNDFirecrest ND 1.8Formatt-Hitech ND Soft Edge Grad 0.6Formatt-Hitech  ND Reverse Grad 0.6Formatt-Hitech  Aluminum Filter Holder Pelican CF Card WalletPelican SD Card WalletSanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB & 256GB CF CardsSanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB SD CardsHonl Photo Black/White Speed GoboHonl Photo Black/Zebra Speed GoboHonl Photo 1/8 Speed GridEneloop Rechargeable Batteries

Top Right Tile:

Pelican 1535 Air Case + TrekPak inserts
TetherTools USB3 Tether Cable + TetherTools Jerkstopper
TetherTools USB3 TetherBoost
Profoto standard Reflector
Profoto Zoom2 Reflector
Profoto Magnum Reflector
Profoto TeleZoom Reflector
Profoto RFi 1,3x2 Softbox
Leatherman Skeletal CX Multitool
Benchmade Griptilian Drop-point AXIS Knife
Profoto Air Remote
Profoto Air TTL Remote N
Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash x 3
Avenger Turtle Base C-Stand Grip Arm Kit
Quick-Grip 58300 Spring Clamps 

Middle Left Tile:

Fiber Optic Light Painting Brush + Coast HP7 Flashlight
F-Stop Gear Tilopa Backpack
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad
Orca Tactical MOLLE Rip-Away EMT Medical First Aid Kit
FUGOO Tough Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Nikon Aculon 10 x 50 Binoculars
Climbing Harness + Petzl Slings + Petzl Locking Carabiners
Black Diamond ATC
Petzl Climbing Helmet
Gerber Gator Machete
Supernova Halo 180 Extreme Rechargeable LED Lamp
Arc’teryx Theta Gore-Tex Jacket
Persol Di Siena Wayfarer Sunglasses Polarised Lenses
Arc’teryx ACRUX² FL Approach Shoes
Light My Fire Original BPA-Free Tritan Spork
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Sterling Ultraline Water Rescue Rope
Manfrotto Mini Tripod
Snake Bite Kit
Sea To Summit Talus TS I 23 degree Sleeping Bag
Lucas Gilman Productions Custom Team Hat
Nemo OBI LS 2 Person Tent
GOALZERO VENTURE 30 Recharger
GOALZERO NOMAD 20 Solar Panel
Sterling 200FT SuperStatic2 Rope
Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Platypus Softbottle Water Bottle

Middle Right Tile:

Avenger Turtle Base C-Stand Grip Arm Kit
Pelican 1535 Air Case + TrekPak inserts
G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC with Thunderbolt + 1TB SSD
G-Technology  G-DRIVE ev RaW 1TB SSD
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
SPL A-SERIES D810 Waterhousing + Port
Churchill Makapuu Swimfins

Bottom Left Tile: 

Elysia Visuals Ramper Pro v3 Kit
Kessler Crane Stealth Pro Slider
Kessler Crane Second Shooter Plus
Petzl TIKKINA Headlamp
Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly Motor Mount
Kessler Crane DC0 Camera Cable Nikon
Kessler Crane Kwik SHORT Camera Plate
Manfrotto Midi-36 Hybrid LED Panel
ROR Optical Lens Cleaning Solution
Kessler Crane MagPak Battery x 3
Write in the Rain Field Notebook
Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
Nikon Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloth
Kessler Crane DC0 Camera Cable Nikon
Kessler Crane Pocket Jib Traveler
Kessler Crane Kwik Release Receiver x 3
Kessler Crane Kwik MINI Plate
Gitzo Series 2 6X Systematic Tripod
GOALZERO Sherpa 100 Power Pack Battery
Kessler Crane Stealth Crank Handle
Motorola Waterproof Walkabout Radios
Gitzo Series 5 6X TRAVELER MONOPOD
Apple iPad Mini + TetherTools Wallee Mountable Case
Sandisk iXpand 128BG Lightning/USB Flash Drive
Apple 13.3" MacBook Pro Laptop
SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD 480GB 

Bottom Right Tile:

Manfrotto Spectra 1 x 1' Bi-Color LED Light (Flood) x2
Really Right Stuff Fluid Gimbal
Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head
Really Right Stuff Macro Focusing Rail
Avenger Triple Header Bar
Light and Motion Stella Pro Video Light
Gitzo Systematic Ball Head Series 5
Gitzo Series 2 6X Systematic 4S Tripod
Gitzo Series 5 6X Systematic 4S Tripod
Gitzo Series 2 6X Systematic 4S G-L Tripod
Manfrotto NanoPole Light Stand x 3
Manfrotto Super Clamp X 3


For more of Lucas’s work, visit his website, Facebook or Instagram.

While waiting for the unveiling of the winners on September 28, 2016, visit the Red Bull Illume social channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a sneak peek of this edition’s entries. These randomly selected shots showcase just-how impressive the 2016 Red Bull Illume submissions really were.

Read the latest stories

Gearing Up for Shoots

Denis Klero, winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 Close-Up category, recently completed a gigantic photo-mission: three weeks on the road during the Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme, an ultra-stage bike race from Moscow to Vladivostok. Following that, there were no days off for him, as he headed out to the Red Bull Flugtag. Two completely different photo-missions, two different approaches and he talked us through them.

© Denis Klero

What's your go-to gear setup?

First of all, we need to divide shoots into two types; Active Reporting and Staged Photography.

During Active Reporting, what really matters is mobility, accessibility of gear and a quick response time. This is why I carry all my gear to the shoot in a backpack or rolling bag, and at the site I put it on a harness I attach to my belt (Photos of this are below).

To summarize the gear: I carry two cameras, two powerful flashes and some fast lenses - all of these are crucial to this kind of reporting.

Fast lenses, wide open, allow blurring the background when it's impossible to beautifully link foreground and background because of so-called "rubbish". 

Usually, I carry two Sony A99II, two flashes and four to five lenses; a 24mm 2.0, a 50mm 1.4, a 70-200mm 2.8 a 16-35mm 2.8 and (to be safe) a 15mm 2.8 fisheye.

Staged Photography is much simpler in terms of gear. I try to use one lens: 24–70 mm 2.8.First of all, in some cases it allows you not to distort space (70 mm), and in some cases it adds an effect of viewer's presence in the photo (35 mm). Availability of a large number of intermediate focal distances is an undeniable advantage.

Secondly, I work mostly with fixed aperture, and it is easier for me to zoom on a photo rather than to go forward and back. Contrary to reporting, staged photography makes it possible to work on the scene for a much longer time and to use and elaborate backgrounds for my own purposes. All the above mainly relates to wide-shot scenes. Of course, when I shoot portraits, still life, big details, I use different optics, including prime lenses.

In both cases, I use two cameras. During reporting, they are equipped with different lenses to have a possibility to quickly change the focal distance, simply by changing camera. This takes no more than a second while changing optics on one camera may take up to 15 seconds, which is inadmissible in some cases. The second camera is also a spare one for the case of possible malfunction. During staged photography, it is used as a reserve camera. It would be very hurtful if, due to a camera malfunction, the long hours spent on preparation on arranging the shooting goes down the drain.

What never leaves your bag/what goes with you to every shoot?

My brain! Everything depends on the type of shoot. I always have my Sony A99II in my bag, regardless of what I'm shooting on that given day or during that assignment.

How do you choose gear for different projects?

Surely, it depends on the specifics or, in case of staged photography, on the idea of the project. In case of events, the site size is of importance. It is necessary to understand whether a usual "report" set is sufficient for work, whether focal distances are sufficient. Then, if upper points are available, it is possible to use such lens as tilt-shift. Another important parameter for selection of additional gear is duration. The duration of the event determines availability of time to experiment with filters, lenses and any methods used in photography (long exposure, unusual shooting angles, etc.). Depending on the time of holding the event (day or night), a decision is made to use additional studio flashlights.

And it is possible to use any type of equipment at staged photography: from smartphone camera to a full-fledged analog camera. Everything depends on the creative task.

How different is packing for an event like the Trans-Siberian Extreme and for the Flugtag?

Red Bull Flugtag in comparison with Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme bicycle racing is a rather short, bright, and emotional event, just manage to shoot. Creativity involves usage of unusual points for shooting, that is why I try to get in such places where shooting is not obvious. All the rest is classical reporting: it is important to quickly see the moment and push the button. And the main thing here is that the gear does not fail. So, I rely on autofocus, especially when I shoot with open aperture.

It is simultaneously simpler and more complicated for Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme. The event is time-stretched, and action is the same day after day, so there is a chance to reshoot if something doesn't work. Lifestyle scenes are also quite long, you have time to take in the situation and compose the photo.

The tricky thing is that during 23 days a spectator watching the race is not bored when looking at your photos. You have to use all the potential of your brain and look for not only interesting creative solutions but use different technical means and special effects to create something new, non-standard, and unusual for such race. Here, your photographer's talent is not only fully manifested, but seriously improved due to the tasks solved.

Studio, artificial light, smoke cartridges, water sprays – all this gave the possibility to diversify photos. And at night I had to use additional flashlight.

In comparison with Flugtag kit, Trans-Siberian Extreme kit was upgraded with another camera — a mirrorless system Sony A9 and almost the same set of lenses (not available in the photo). This is the newest camera that came into the market this summer, and we decided to test it in the field. There are also two tripods in the kit, mainly to use at night or to install a remote camera with the possibility to run it at a distance.

Also, in the picture we can see a 220V car voltage converter for continuous charging of batteries of different devices. An Internet router is required to promptly send photos directly from car to web-site. Both kits have a laptop, which is necessary for quickly processing and transferring photographic materials for publications.

The used lighting gear is worth discussing separately.

 

In the picture, we can see impulse light with a possibility of high-speed synchronization, a LED lamp, smoke cartridges for generating fog and other effects, two types of light stands, light generating heads, etc.

LED lamp was used for night lifestyle shootings at stops during rest and for shooting cyclists from car while they are on road. Constant light is more convenient in such cases:

it enables the autofocus to work better, and the final picture does not feature "frozen" parts of moving parts of bicycle and driver, as with impulse light. And such light is just convenient to form a light-and shadow picture, so to speak, online.

At the top of Photo 4, there is overwrap: it was used to protect the lighting gear from rain.

During the race, I used two types of light stands because each one has its advantages: Black stands are light-weighted and compact, and chrome plated C-stands are convenient for use on uneven surfaces which are typical for races.

 

Smoke cartridges made it possible to diversify boring night photos. They added volume to the photo and made the light more visible and tangible.

Sometimes, in search of an unusual shooting angle I have to climb different piles and trees. To climb trees, I typically use usual climbing irons.

If there’s only one body + lens setup you could use for an assignment, what would you use?

Sony A99II + 24-70 2.8

Do you carry anything with you that no one else has?

I think I have nothing special in my bag.

Any items you would like to add to your gear bag?

It would be nice to have additional pockets and sections.

Any tips for starting photographers?

Start small and gradually complicate and increase the number of your gear. Do not think that if you buy all types of lenses and studio light you will get genius shots. You have to know how to use this equipment, I mean not only to study manuals but to understand experimentally how this gear affects the final result. Years may pass... Everything must be gradual. Good luck!

 

To see more of Denis' work, head over to his website and give him a follow on Instagram!

Red Bull Illume Visits Home!

Following stops in Chicago and Toronto, the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour is coming home for the month of September.

© Helge Kirchberger Photography / Red Bull Hangar-7

The official tour-stop home of Red Bull Illume has always been the impressive Hangar-7 in Salzburg, and this year is no different. This unique building, which houses a collection of historical aircraft and Formula 1 race cars is the perfect home for the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour.

The Exhibit Tour officially opens in the evening on 6 September, and can be visited by the public from 7 September onwards. The exhibit can be visited all day, Hangar-7 opening hours permitting, but we recommend going later in the day when it starts to get dark, as that is when the lightboxes really shine!

The last night of the Exhibit Tour will coincide with the Lange Nacht der Museen, which takes place on 7 October, 2017.

Jaakko Posti: What's in the Bag

Mixing emotion and feeling together with elements from travel, sports, documentary, nature and landscape photography, Finnish photographer Jaakko Posti creates some next-level adventure and action sports photos. We caught up with him to see what he carries with him when he goes out into the wild!

© Jaakko Posti

Talk us through your gear. What are your go-to items?

I'm a Sony Alpha Ambassador and I use Sony cameras for my work. I used to shoot with the Sony A99 camera, but then the original A7 mirrorless full frame camera was announced back in 2013. I have been pretty much using the Alpha 7 series cameras since then. The system has matured quite a bit since the first model and now I carry a Sony A7R2 body and their new mirrorless flagship model, the Sony A9. I think that these two bodies compliment each others quite nicely. The A7R2 with its 42Mpx sensor is great for landscape and portrait work or in a situation where I know I have to crop in a bit in post. The A9 on the other hand is a perfect companion in action and sports photography. The unbelievable AF functions of the A9, together with the 20FPS make my job a lot more efficient. I shoot more and more video together with photos and for that I feel that this mirrorless system is great.

The lenses I now mostly use on the wide end are Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 and the Sony FE 35mm F1.4. On the longer end I like to use the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM and Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM lenses. What I really like about the Sony E-mount system is the option I have to go small and light if I want to.

I can for example use the A9 body with Zeiss 25mm/F2 + 55mm/F1.8 and 70-200mm/F4G and with those lenses, the system is really light and compact. And then again in situations where size and weight is not an issue and I just want to get the best IQ out of the system, I can add the battery grips to the bodies and use the fastest lenses like the Sony 70-200mm F2.8 GM, the 85mm F1.4 GM, the 35mm F1.4Z or the the 16-35mm F2.8 GM. With those lenses, the weight of the system is quite similar to a normal DSLR system.

Now when I´m shooting more and more video as well, I usually carry the DJI Mavic Pro with me. Drones can really open up your artistic creativity.  

For me the passion to action and outdoor photography started with the passion to the outdoors itself and I feel that with the small mirrorless system in my camera backpack I get to enjoy the skiing, mountain biking, trail running or other outdoor activities more. That was the most important reason I started using the mirrorless system and stayed with it although I felt that there were some compromises when compared to traditional DSLR cameras, but now after the announcement of Sony Alpha A9 camera I feel that there is no compromises anymore. 

Do you remember the first piece of photography gear you have ever owned?  

The first camera I have owned was a small Konica Minolta digital compact camera with a whopping 4Mpx sensor. Before that I had been taking some photos with my parents old film camera.

Is there anything special you carry with you on shoots? 

No, not really anything special. It depends a quite a lot of the stuff I´m shooting and what time of the year it is. Shell jacket is kind of must in the ever changing nordic weather we have here in the North Europe. Also what I usually have with me are first aid kit, multitool of some kind and a cup to drink from. How do you choose gear for different projects? 

Like I mentioned earlier I usually try to have a as compact camera setup with me as possible. But for example in shoots where I don´t move around that much like events or such I can have pretty much all the gear with me. 

On outdoor and action sport shoots I usually think about that where we are going to go and what we are going to shoot. If I know that the shoot is going to be really mobile I will try get the camera setup as small as possible. For example Sony A9 body with Batis 25/2, Sony 55/1.8, Sony 70200/4 is really compact and light weight setup. Also one factor that determines the camera equipment I bring with me is the area I´m going to do most of the shooting. For example if we are shooting most of photos in forest I will bring more wide-angle lenses with me. Also the same If we are for example skiing couloirs. If we are mostly going to shoot over the treeline in alpine I might have more of ”longer” lenses with me and maybe the 35mm is the widest on those kind of shoots.

Which piece of gear would you never leave at home? 

There is no specific camera or lenses I would´t leave at home. It all depends of the shoot. But what I always want to have with me is the Peak Desing camera clips. It is really nice to have the camera on hand all the time and like that you can capture some really cool moments you wouldn’t be able to to get if the camera would be inside the backpack. 

Does your gear sometimes take a pounding to get the shots you’re known for? 

Yeah almost all the time. Specially on winter time the weather can be a bit harsh to the equipment. -30*C degree temperatures and heavy snowfalls will but the equipment under some serious stress. Also I usually like to push my own limits while skiing or mountain biking and usually take a tumble here and there, and of course the equipment in my back feels those ones too. That said I haven´t broken any equipment yet.

Any items you wish you could add to your bag?

Sony Alpha mirrorless system now has all the essential lenses I need in my work. But one fun lens to have if Sony would ever develop one would be their own wide-angle tilt shift lens. I think I have pretty much all the other gear I could think of. I think it is more what I´m willing to carry with me in the bag.

Any tips for aspiring photographers? 

You need to have real passion to photography and shoot a lot of different stuff. I have shot and still do all kinds of commercial shoots, press, events, weddings, portraits, street photography, Landscape, sports and outdoors. I think when you photograph almost everything you will get to a lot of situations where you are not that comfortable with and overcoming those situations you will become a better photographer at the end.  

To see more of Jaakko's work, head over to his Facebook and make sure to follow him on Instagram

In A Flash: Shooting the Perfect Key Visual

Red Bull Illume In A Flash returns with its latest installment, focused on the most crucial element of any commercial campaign; the key visual.

Shooting a striking key visual is no easy task and it's something that comes down to the finest details. Use the pointers in the video above to help you along the way.

It all starts with brainstorming - nail down the concept and the message you want the visual to bring across. What definitely helps is scribbling what you want your final product to look like, this will help guide you while you're shooting.

Organize the shoot - do you need models, a location or props? Will you shoot in- or outdoors? How are you going to shoot? How many people do you need? These are all things to consider before you head out to the shoot.

Spend some time doing test shots. Make sure you've got your settings dialed in, so that when it's crunchtime, you're good to go and you know you'll get the shots you wanted.

Edit your shots. This is where you make your key visual really shine and come together.

Want more photo tips? Make sure to check out our other In A Flash videos by heading over to our YouTube channel!

Wakeboarding meets Architecture

Danish action sports photographer Jesper Grønnemark is known for pushing boundaries when it comes to photography and has an eye for incorporating objects or elements into his photos that you wouldn't think of. For his latest project, he fused elements of architecture with wakeboarding. Read the full story and see the results below...

© Jesper Gronnemark

How do you push the boundaries of what people believe possible in sports photography?

That exact question is the drive behind Jesper Grønnemark, who as a sports-photographer has become used to facing situations with a flexibility and fast thinking only few can brag about.

Location! Location! Location!

The shoot was in a small canal located in front of the Tietgen Residence Hall. A wish to combine sports-photography with architecture contributed to the selection of this very untraditional wakeboard scenario in the heart of Copenhagen.

“I saw this location a couple of years ago, and thought it was perfect for a wakeboard shoot. It is a minimalistic setup, but there is a great contrast between the murky water and the clean lines of the building”.

Did you hear the story about the two guys in the canal?

A wakeboarder in a small canal by the Tietgen Residence Hall is a rare sight and it attracts quite a few curious people. In the different tall houses around the shoot, people gathered in their windows to see what was going on.

Jesper floats in the water in a wetsuit and gets out of the water several times, running around to keep warm; a great example of Jesper’s dedication and hard work getting the perfect image.

The cold and not too clean water doesn’t stop wakeboarder Dres Damgaard either. He gets in as soon as the winch, which will pull him towards the bridge, is on.

“It was quite a challenge I had given myself. The water was very cold, so it didn’t take long before Dres and I were freezing. I had to use a lot of energy not to shake when Dres was being pulled by the winch, and I had to take pictures.”

Patience and equipment

This was an assignment that required patience, endurance and precision to create a great result, but it also demanded having the right equipment.

“This situation puts high demands on the equipment to function each and every time. Since I couldn’t afford to miss a shot it was amazing shooting with the flash system I use, which delivers the power, quality and speed necessary.”

So long, summer!

The Scandinavian summer sun is slowly setting, it has been a tough shoot for both Jesper and Dres. Even though they are tired, wet and longing to go home and take a shower, there is still a sense of satisfaction in the air. The hard work paid off and the images are even better than anticipated.

To see more of Jesper's work, head over to his Instagram, but not before checking out the results and some behind the scenes shots below!

Dusty Walls with Matt Hunter

Sterling Lorence fell in love with photography after biking through what he calls "the moody forests of the North Shore" and has been in the game for over 20 years. Collecting Red Bull Illume Finalist honors on multiple occasions, we decided to take a closer look at one of his more iconic images.

Red Bull Illume 2013: Sterling Lorence, Energy category finalist

© Sterling Lorence / Red Bull Illume

Matt Hunter has a reputation in freeride mountain biking for finding and building very progressive lines. Matt built this air for the filming of his segment in the film, 'Follow Me'. It is a 45-foot air to wall ride move that he hadn't done much practice on.

It is always stressful as a photographer to show up to a shoot like this, with a film crew, and have the majority of the pressure falling onto the athlete to throw down. Especially when the action is dangerously progressive like this and we all are unsure of what the outcome will be. We all want to shoulder more of the responsibility, but ultimately it is the athlete that has to be the most prepared.

I framed up this shot from this perspective to be able to express the entire story of his line and the size of the gap he had to make. I originally thought I would shoot it as a sequence so that the viewer would be able to understand the extreme journey more.

With my motor drive running, Matt nailed his line and I watched him hit the wall and carve out the finish. I was completely floored and in awe by the explosion of dust he had created. I never expected or predicted such a dramatic dust trail to happen as he smashed across the cliff face. As I sat back and reviewed my images, I saw this one frame and I realized that I no longer needed the full sequence. The entire story, speed, impact and energy of this huge air was captured in this single frame. That is why I love photography, telling so much of a story in a single image.

Want to see more images by Sterling Lorence? Head over to his Instagram and check out his website!

From the backcountry to the streets of the Six

Scott Serfas might just be the most well-known Canadian snowboard photographer out there. He took to the streets of Toronto, a.k.a. the Six, during the recent Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour Stop to show some love to the urban streets.

© Scott Serfas

What are some differences/similarities to shooting sport in the mountains vs urban streets? 

There are a lot of differences between shooting in the mountains versus shooting in the streets, but luckily for me, I grew up shooting skateboarding, so I’m quite comfortable with both.

In the streets, at times you have much more time to set up a shot and think more about placing artificial lighting to create dramatic effects.

On the other hand, in the case of shooting photos that will attract issues with the police or security guards you're going to want to set up your lighting plan ahead of time, metering everything offsite, so all you will need to do is drop the lights into place and shoot.

Or like in this case (the photo of Drew jumping gap) you will need to choose the right time of day to shoot all natural light. If that is not a possibility, then you will have to choose an angle depending on light. In the mountains, you're solely relying on what Mother Nature gives you. You're likely working with natural light, so choosing a location and time of day will be more crucial.

How did you shoot the street spots? (lighting, settings etc)

This particular shoot was a more run and gun style of shoot, so I would work around the existing light. Some locations and obstacles worked really well and others bombed.

On a normal day I would have either brought a few lights to help or shot things at a different time of day.

What’s the hardest part of shooting with a pro athlete?

There are three things that come to mind working with a professional athlete.

One, they are professional, so you likely won’t have their talent to blame when you make mistakes.

Two, because they are pro, your subject will likely have a large bag of tricks and will be able to preform the proper trick that looks better from the angle you choose to shoot from.

And three, one of the more difficult things manage as a photographer, likely they will be trying something so difficult that it becomes a “one and done” shoot. This means they will do it once, stick it and leave. So that means you have once chance to get the shot.

For me, shooting a one and done photo adds so much stress to the shoot.

Want to see more Scott Serfas shots? Head over to his website and give him a follow on Instagram!

Six Skate Photographers You Need To Know

Time to show some love to the photographers out there who pound the pavement day after day, hoping to capture that outstanding skate shot. Here are six skate photographers you need to know...

© Jonathan Mehring / Red Bull Illume

Davy van Laere

@philzwijsen #ElementWaterproof @elementeurope #Bilbao @soloskatemag @aproposskatemag

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"French" Fred Mortagne

Roberto Alegria

Jonathan Mehring

Roberto Bragotto

Jeroen Nieuwhuis

2/3 Red Bull Illume | CLOSE-UP FINAL IMAGE Early in 2016 I sat down with art director @ElroyKlee & cinematographer @ErikJournee from @NEWDAY.studio to come up with a concept for this year’s @redbullillume After pitching different ideas at each other we quickly agreed to try shooting something with mirrors. Instead of a street spot we decided to go indoors, but not to a typical skatepark. We contacted the guys at skatepark Pier 15 in Breda (The Netherlands). This skatepark is more like an indoor ‘street spot’, with concrete ramps, curbs and stairs. We knew this would fit the image we had in mind. We started cutting mirrors in our studio into different (small and large) shapes and tested them to see how big they needed to be to see the trick and different parts of the obstacle. We opted for triangle shaped mirrors to complement the obstacles in the background, to create a clean, even balanced look. Almost 12 mirrors later we finally had the pieces that would fit the picture. We headed out to Pier 15 together with Dutch skateboarder @RobMaatman. A couple of c-stands were used to angle the mirrors in a way that they almost looked like a puzzle; connect all the pieces and you see the entire obstacle. The outcome is a balanced action picture combined with graphic pieces and skatepark objects. #Photography #behindthescenes #RedBull #RedBullillume #mamiya #mediumformat #broncolor #skateboarding #skateboard #flash #robmaatman #newdaystudio #emerica #iso1200magazine #famousbtsmag

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Did we miss a skate photographer you follow and we should check out? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!

All Out with Ale di Lullo

We caught up with crazy Italian MTB photographer Ale di Lullo to talk about what's been going on with him since that fateful evening in Chicago, when he took home a Category Winner Award for his shot of Aaron Chase rolling over a New York taxi cab.

© Ale di Lullo

What’s been going on with you since the Winner Award Ceremony?

It's been a very busy off-season and my Air Miles Award program is just on fire. I've been shooting catalogs and some adventure stuff all over the world, from New Zealand to the Dolomites, passing through British Columbia, Oregon, California and most of Europe.

Has anything changed for you since making it to the Top 55 and in the Top 275?

It didn't change anything with clients and the kind of shooting I do, but it gave me more tranquility and confidence in trying to experiment a bit more, or at least as far as a mostly commercial bike photographer can go.

And you know what?

I think that the Red Bull Illume categories really make sense and summarize the shots in them really well. When I'm on assignment I often find myself thinking "Oh this could be a good shot for Spirit category...or for Wings or for Playground!"

So maybe it slightly changed the way I think when I'm shooting...at least it helped me to categorize things.

Actually, there is something that changed in me after the Red bull Illume finals...it was already an ongoing process, but now it's annoying...I became my own worst critic! I struggle to be happy with any of my shots!! (Fortunately, my clients still are...ahahah)

Any cool projects you’re working on?

I'm trying to bring a new way into what I do for my clients and bringing them more exclusive shoots and less contest/event stuff. More planning, more research, more exploration and bringing back the essence of mountain biking, which is just out there in nature.

Can we expect a new project with Aaron Chase? Involving other forms of transport?

I have some ideas following the transportation wave...but the shot was more on the point of view, the new angle. The car was just a medium, so my mind is roaming more for new angles or new things to ride.
But I cannot exclude that I won't be back with some new vehicles!

I also found a mountain location where I want to try a Masterpiece shot...I'm studying angles and light right now. Hopefully it will happen before the end of the year...but there is a lot of building involved.

Aaron is probably gonna be part of a couple of adventures during the summer, but nothing for a specific Red Bull Illume project...but you never know when the next Illume shot could happen, right?

I try to keep myself active and exposed to cool situations when the magic could happen and if Aaron is around, chances are just higher!

What do you think the secret is to an image doing well in Red Bull Illume?

I think it's a very unpredictable balance between the classic photography rules (like composition and light) and the ability to tell a story...also for people who don't practice the sport or are passionate about a specific sport, which is hard to keep in mind sometimes for insiders.

You need to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has no knowledge of that sport and get the outside perspective. It's easy to forget that a Regular Joe won't have the same perception of the shot... so I believe that, in the end, it has to be an simple, essential, perfectly executed shot that tells a great story or the lifestyle around it. It's not easy.

Working together with any other Red Bull Illume finalists?

Well, I do some Downhill World Cup and Rampage shoots where a few finalists shoot as well, but we are just at the same event and not really working together. But it's always great to share ideas when you're there together with them.

And what’s your personal favorite from Red Bull Illume?

I clearly remember Dean Treml's shot which won the Enhance category...and Jody MacDonald Lifestyle winner shot. Lifestyle shots are the hardest to take...when you see the moment you want to capture, it's gone. Most of the time you're living it and it's hard to understand when the right moment is that will tell the whole story.

What's one crazy photo assignment you've been on?

That has to be shooting a bike catalog in British Columbia and California. 3 weeks, 15 bikes, 5 different riders, 10 different locations, 2 injuries, cold, hot, rain, snow, fog, high wind, customs delays with the bikes and the shortest daylight time of the year...and the specific request to shoot lifestyle in trashy and sketchy parts of different cities.

That was very hard, but really rewarding from a strictly professional point of view. There was a lot of variety and that specific type of lifestyle shot that only comes from a long road trip. Priceless. Unfortunately, logistically, it was a nightmare for the client, so next year we'll probably go back to a more traditional way of doing a catalog shoot.

Last question: will we see you again in 2019?

I'll be submitting a few shots for sure!! The fact of having 4 shots in the top 275 and a Category Winner set the bar pretty high for me. I don't have the 'illuminated idea' as it was for Chase cab driver shot just yet... but I already have a few nugs ready for the 2019 submission from a different shoot I did and maybe a new idea will pop into my mind while I'm on the road, just as it was for the cab shot.

Make sure to follow Ale di Lullo on Facebook and Instagram!

How It's Made: Bike on Bike Action

Falling into photography through writing and after a crash course shooting BMX with some of the world's biggest photographers, Ryan Fudger's passion for still images was triggered.

© Ryan Fudger / Red Bull Illume

"I really don’t know anything about motorcycles. I’ve actually spent most of my life with an unnatural fear of them. There’s just something about BMXers and motorcycles that don’t go well together. Putting my personal fear aside I spent ten or so days on the road chasing Corey Martinez, Garrett Reynolds, and Tony Neyer through the South, as they mobbed through small towns on motorcycles with their bikes strapped to the backs.

This particular photo was shot on a stretch of road known as Tail Of The Dragon in Deals Gap, North Carolina – 318 curves in 11 miles, all of which I spent hanging out the back of a minivan maxing out the memory buffer on my Canon 6D to the point I actually got motion sickness.

This particular photo was shot with a Canon 20-200 F2.8L at a motion-blur inducing 1/50th of a second shutter speed at f4.5 and ISO 400.

In all seriousness, I had the easy part hanging out of that minivan, as it was only a few miles after this photo was shot that one of the crew ended up over-cooking a turn and crashing. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, and although the bike did need some repairs, we eventually continued south to Florida until we hit the Keys."

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