Putting a shot together with Vitek Ludvik

Putting a shot together with Vitek Ludvik

Vitek Ludvik is always looking for innovative new ways to find a new angle. The 2007 Red Bull Illume photographer recently got busy with some DIY tripod construction to capture an image that had been growing in his mind for a year.

It was a plan to capture some breathtaking white water images with Honza Lasko, the extreme kayak champion, kayak designer and manufacturer.
“I only knew him from the pages of white water magazines," says Vitek.
"But when we finally met, we made a plan to work together as soon as possible.The pair agreed that conditions were best in Norway and began planning a trip.

“I did not want to destroy my camera because of a poor mount and Honza refused to have an Eiffel Tower on his kayak,” says Vitek. “We tried with an old tripod, but it buckled after a few minutes of testing. We knew we needed a more solid camera mount and drew up a new layout. My neighbour, a craftsman hobbyist, helped construct the mount just two days before the trip began. It was light, solid and reliable.”

Vitek also tried to find the right camera with the size and weight of a compact but with DSLR performance. “Olympus had just released a model called the OM-D. When I pulled the camera out of the box, I was rather skeptical as it was like a toy. However after a successful test shoot with the Flying Bulls in Jarom??, Czech Republic, where I hung the OM-D with a Pocketwizard under my paraglider, I knew it could do the job.”

Overall, the photoshoot was a success. “The project was exciting," he says. "Best off all was meeting the crew and making new friends, Honza Lasko, Honza Muska Musil, Honza Kolar and Eva Filova!”

And the final image itself?
“The photoshoot went fine and the image looks great. My idea was slightly different as I was looking for a higher waterfall with a sharper edge, but the rest of the image looks the way I wanted. I’m happy!”

Vitek is no stranger to kayak photography, watch his shoot with London 2012 silver medallist Vavra Hradilek on a Prague slalom course. www.sharp-pictures.net.   

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Markus Berger continues his UV journey

Photographer and broncolor ambassador Markus Berger likes to look at life a little differently than others. For the last few years, he's been working on a project called "Beneath the Surface," in which he takes regular action and adventure sports and shines a UV light on them. His latest subject; Red Bull skateboarder Philipp Schuster.

© Markus Berger

"At the end of last summer I shot another part of my UV project series „Beneath the Surface“. This time it was skateboarding that was at stake and no other than Philipp Schuster from Vienna, Austria joined me to capture skateboarding in a different light."

"Philipp is a photographer himself and an Austrian skateboarding legend. That made it quite easy for me to convince him for this project and his help on finding the location and also to finalize the visual idea of the shot was amazing. Apart from that we also involved streetartist Christian Tanzer who came up with the graphic idea and the execution of it as well."

"A few weeks before the shoot I came to Vienna to check some skate spots together with Philipp – eventually we ended up choosing a DIY spot which is a location that was designed and built by skaters themselves."

"A day before the shoot I went on location to spray paint the whole area in a light grey so we would have a clean canvas for the shooting day and for Christian to place his graphic ideas. On the shoot day we were facing some communicational problems which resulted in all three of us being on different locations in Vienna at the same time. However this incident gave me the opportunity to buy more colors which at the end was crucial for finishing the graphic. We were lucky to have the most beautiful weather and the vibes on site were also chill and relaxed. So we spent a afternoon painting and supporting Christian."

When the sun dropped we started shooting and after a few attempts we got the shot we wanted. Every time when the broncolor UV lights flash for the first time and you see the entire image illuminated for the first time is special. Everybody was stoked and the result got even more depth because of the meaningful graphics that actually tell part of Philipp's personal Story.

The action was a simple but huge Ollie which is supposed to be a basic trick but still it came out simple and impressive at the same time.

We ended our session with some portraits and it was again such a cool experience to see something evolve out of nothing just by three guys working together for a day. It definitely makes you feel alive and satisfied at the end and for sure this is quality time spent you ll never regret.

To learn more about Broncolor's UV light shaper, click here

Want to see more of Markus Berger's work? Head over to his website and make sure to check out his Instagram

Salty snaps from 3,600m above sea level

Daniel Dhers builds and rides the world’s first BMX salt park 3,600m above sea level. Red Bull photographer Camilo Rozo was there to capture the crazy.

© Camilo Roso / Red Bull Content Pool

Bicycle motocross rider Daniel Dhers knows a thing or two about high altitude jumps, but this is something different. He recently built ramps out of salt at the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia – a high altitude desert known as the largest salt pans on the planet.

The “Salar de Uyuni” stand 3,600m above sea level. At this height, the atmospheric pressure decreases and results in a blood oxygen shortage.

 “I would make a line in the Salt Park and would stop for five minutes to catch my breath again,” explains Dhers, a five-time X-Games BMX Park gold medalist. “Plus it was really hot during the day and when the sun was covered by a cloud I was freezing.”

The ramps were designed by John Saxton and built with the help of locals from the Bolivian town of Colchani. “We built the ramp’s structure out of salt bricks, and had to create a secret mix to smooth them out,” says Dhers. “This is the roughest project I’ve done in my life, it’s a beautiful scenery but riding at this height is crazy.”

The flat horizon, hostile weather and high altitude all played a part – meaning Dhers had to push his limits to perform his tricks in a short production time. Luckily, Red Bull photographer Camilo Rozo was on hand to capture every salty jump.

Find out more about Camilo on his website and check out Daniel on 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.

Follow these 5 action sport photographers on Instagram

Scrolling our Instagram feed should be a daily source of inspiration. Following these five photographers – handpicked by Red Bull Illume – will guarantee to keep you amped for the action-adventure lifestyle.

Red Bull Illume 2013: Fred Mortagne, Playground category top 25

© Fred Mortagne / Red Bull Illume

Jimmy Chin
Pro climber, photographer and director Jimmy Chin lives for big mountains. Not only epic mountain shots, but powder, travel, cityscape and other images will keep you locked to his feed.

A photo posted by Jimmy Chin (@jimmy_chin) on

Jody MacDonald 

In the sky, under the sea or on the wall – explorer and adventure photographer Jody MacDonald captures a variety of action sports.  Check her unreal images of paragliders flying above the desert dunes of Mozambique.

Fred Mortagne
Director and photographer “French Fred” is the master of black and white skateboarding images. His use of lines and geometric shapes has given him a captivating signature style.

A photo posted by Fred Mortagne (@frenchfred) on

Lorenz Holder
Snowboarder, photographer and Overall Winner of Red Bull Illume 2013, Lorenz Holder’s use of space, light and energy make his images something to scroll for on our morning Instagram scan.

Stuart Gibson
No Instagram following list is complete without at least one surf-photography master in it. Let that one be Tazmanian Stu Gibson – cruising through his wave images will leave you burning to hit the ocean. 

A photo posted by stu gibson (@stugibson) on

While waiting for the unveiling of the winners on September 28, 2016, visit the Red Bull Illume on Instagram too 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.

Catching up with Jussi Grznar

Whether on snow, in the water or on concrete, Jussi Grznar is a master of arresting stillness in moments that are hectic by design. We caught up with the action sports photographer and talked about the process of putting together a slideshow of his best work.

© Jussi Grznar

What kind of images did you feel you were missing from your body of work coming into this winter?
“I was definitely good on the snowboard side of things. I had done a few surfing trips and one or two BASE jumping trips previously, and I wanted to have these sports included in the show, but I didn’t have enough. I pretty much decided just to shoot portraits, landscapes, surfing – I needed some big wave surfing photos – and a lot of BASE jumping.”

How difficult was it paring all that work into an eight minute slideshow? 
“I had a lot of photos to choose from, but at the same time, you want to just use your best work. The photos needed to be the right fit with the order, other photos, with the music, the motion and the mood of the final piece. I just created a bunch of folders on my phone and on my iPad, I created a playlist and I just played those songs over and over looking at the photos. I would constantly change the order and constantly change the photos that were in it. I did that for so long that everything just fell into place.”

Is there a set of photos or a photo in that slideshow that you’re most proud of? 
“That’s something that I had to deal with myself when I was editing the piece. You’re emotionally attached to certain photos because you know the amount of time and money and the crazy acts behind the scenes and the stories that happened, but you don’t even know if the photo is that good. You really want to have that photo in it because it took so much effort to get it, but at the same time you don’t really know if it’s that good.

There are certain photos that I’m really proud of. I flew to Bulgaria for one photograph: Vancouver to Montreal, from Montreal to Paris, from Paris to Munich, from Munich to Sofia. I flew there for 48 hours and ended up getting the shot and an extra photo the next day. And pretty much after 48 hours, I flew back the exact same way.”

Which locations is photography going to take you next? 
“There are lots of places that I’d like to return to. Whistler backcountry has a special place in my heart. Tahiti and Alaska. But it just doesn’t stop. I went to Nepal to shoot one portrait photo and when I was flying out of there and I saw the Himalayas from the airplane, it just broke my heart. I was like, “I need to come back here.” I was in China and I didn’t get the chance to go to Tibet, so I really want to go there. I want to travel pretty much for the rest of my life.”

View Jussi’s slideshow here. For more of the man’s work, visit his website 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.

Join the Global Photo Walk and win a trip to Chicago!

Red Bull Illume is pleased to report that Red Bull Photography and 500px have joined forces to organize an amazing social photography event with an opportunity to win a very special prize – the 500px Red Bull Photography Global Photo Walk.

© Craig Kolesky

The Global Photo Walk is a one-day event held on September 17 where photographers from every corner of the globe gather to celebrate a love of photography with their local communities. Led by the most passionate members of the 500px community, this event brings together photography enthusiasts of all skill levels to meet up, share tips and tricks, make new friends – and of course, to shoot some of the world’s most inspiring photography.

The 2015 Global Photo Walk was the largest in the world. 30,000 photography enthusiasts signed up to explore over 200 cities on all 7 continents before uploading over 10,000 incredible, never-before-seen images on 500px.

The theme for this year’s Global Photo Walk is Action and Adventure. Hosts and participants are encouraged to shoot thrilling images both in their everyday surroundings, and sports environments like climbing walls, skate parks, windsurfing spots and rivers.

Those who participate will also have an opportunity to enter a truly amazing contest and win a trip to the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony in Chicago on September 28! The prize includes round-trip economy class flights, two nights accommodation, transfers to/from the airport and transfer to/from the ceremony.

A panel of four judges will select the winner with the most ‘adventurous’ shot. From a technical standpoint, they’ll also be judging entries based on composition, creativity, and the artistic perspective captured by the photographer. Only photos taken on a mobile device on the day of the walk will be eligible for the contest.

Here’s how to enter:

Step 1: Join a Global Photo Walk near you.
Step 2: Register to access your image submission page.
Step 3: Check your email and activate your account.
Step 4: Upload up to 5 of your best Global Photo Walk images.

Registration for the Global Photo Walk is open now! For more information or to register, head here. Once you’ve registered visit the Red Bull Illume social channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and browse through hundreds of top-notch action and adventure images for inspiration!

Behind the scenes at the Pannonian Challenge

Shooting action sports can be overwhelming and strenuous if you lack the proper knowledge before going out to shoot. So we went on assignment with photographer Stephan Bednaic to get his take on how to handle a big action sports event – like the Pannonian Challenge in Osijek, Croatia.

© Stephan Bednaic

What goes into planning a day of shooting at such an event?
“First of all take notes about the schedule – where do you need to be at a given moment? When do you have time to go to the media tent and transfer/backup images? When to do live social media posts? If the event is in the open, have the weather forecast in mind – where will the sun be and can you use the golden hour/blue hour during the contest? It’s good to have some kind of plan prepared and work around it.“

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far while shooting big events?
“Be fast and move often! You can cover and document so much more if you move around. Be at two places at once. Even during runs, don’t be afraid to change your location. Yes, you’ll miss a trick or two but the new angle and different perspective can be rewarding. Riders often have two runs, so use that to your advantage. I usually try to photograph one run on the safe-side and then experiment on the other run. Have variety in the pictures.”

How do you decide what gear to bring?
“Since I had full access to the event and freedom to move where I want, I could minimize the gear I had on me – a Canon 1D4 with a 70-200 on one shoulder and a Canon 5D3 with a 16-35 on the other. As far as lenses – all I had on my belt was a 50mm, 45mm tilt-shift and a 15mm fisheye. Depending on the situation I would switch between them, usually while changing locations keeping in mind what I want to use next.”

What’s the biggest challenge of shooting a BMX comp?
“Definitely the unpredictability. You don't know what lines and tricks a rider will perform. You could be waiting on one side of the park while the rider will be using the other side and you’ll be missing shots. My tip would be to look at the first run and learn to predict the rider. It can help you set up creative photos because you’ll be at the right place in the right moment.”

What’s your favorite event to shoot?
“The Pannonian Challenge without a doubt. It’s been going for 17 years, and it’s just growing and growing. I have so many friends and colleagues working on it – it feels like home there. It was especially big this year since it was one of five FISE World Series stops, and the crew did a great job around it. You should definitely check it out and mark your calendars for next year!”

What’s the one item every photographer should have in his or her bag while shooting?

“This might sound generic but trust me on this one – food and water. There’s nothing worse than working hungry or dehydrated. I always have a water bottle on my belt and protein bars/gels in my bag just in case. Make snacks or sandwiches if you know you’ll be working for a long period. I was at the park from 11am to 10pm capturing the event and doing side projects, running from one location to another. A delicious snack when you’re exhausted is a great energy booster. Other than that, I would recommend putting deodorant and sun protection into your bag.”

Any tips for newbie photographers?
“Get in touch with the event organizers and try to get a press pass. It will help you get to locations you wouldn’t be allowed otherwise. If you get rejected don’t stop there. Go as a visitor and capture the perspective from the crowd, move to the fences to get a little closer and tell your story. Don’t limit yourself and try to socialize with people in the industry. The point where you are now and the goal where you want to be is closer than you think.”

For more of Stephan’s work, visit his website 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.

So you’ve snapped the photo, now what?

Ask any photographer, and they’ll tell you about the importance of a good workflow, a system to keep yourself in check while you’re working. How do you go from shoot to final product? We caught up with a few G-Technology ambassadors to talk about their workflow and the importance of external storage solutions.

Taking a photo is only one part of a long process that every professional photographer goes through. There’s the concept, the preparation, the shoot, the selection, the retouching and countless other steps between actually snapping away and publishing the photo.  

Going from picture selection to publishing is an entire process by itself. If you shoot digital, images are saved on removable storage, which you then take out of your camera and transfer to your computer. This first computer or workstation might not be your editing station, but just an intermediate stop. If you’re on the road and don’t have time to edit, you’ll likely choose to put all of the photos on an external hard drive and then work on them when you get back to your studio, office, bedroom, you name it.

“You will probably shoot more than you think and the last thing you want to be doing as the light gets perfect is to delete images,” says Red Bull Illume photographer Lucas Gilman. “Also, plan on backing up your images onto multiple drives. The G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC with ThunderboltTM is my go-to in the field because it’s water tight and shockproof.”

For professional photographers, lost data means only one thing; lost opportunities.

“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," says Gilman.

As you might have guessed, storage is key for photographers. “Fast, dependable storage is essential throughout my workflow. Really, storage is the unsung hero in production. It’s just as valuable as having a great camera. Particularly in my case, solutions with high speed, large capacity, easy operation, reliability, and mobility are essential,” says surf photographer and filmmaker Aaron Lieber, adding that he’s “just a solo business guy trying to build something awesome with modest resources, and G-Technology comes closer than anyone to hitting every point on my Storage Solution Dream List.”

Adventure and outdoor photographer Kamil Tamiola is currently working on “The Sixth Sense,” in which he combines thermal imagery with medium-format photos to showcase the energy of the athlete in his natural environment. “When you’re working with thermographic imagery and RAW files that can easily go up to 5-6GB when you’re post-processing, a high-quality and fast storage system is a must, not only because you need it to be able to work, but because you sometimes need to work really fast and don’t want to waste time on backups and file transferring.”

There you have it, some tips from the pros on how to deal with the enormous amounts of data you create as a photographer.

To learn more about external storage and backup solutions, head over to G-Technology’s website.

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.

Justin Jung: What's in the bag?

Southern California-based photographer and cinematographer Justin Jung says his work takes him all over the globe. For the past three years he's been capturing breathtaking imagery every step of the way. Let’s take a look at what he carries with him.

© Justin Jung

Firstly, tell us about that Game of Thrones DVD?
“Haha, well personally I think it's one of the best shows on TV right now - maybe ever? I have the digital copy of it on my laptop for those long layovers and flights. It just never gets old.”

Talk us through your gear - what are your go-to items?
“I typically do a lot of video work so my go-to is the Sony FS7, which shoots 4k at 60 fps. It’s perfect for when I can't be shooting photos, but I can still pull a high-quality screen-grab if needed. My go-to camera for photos, and all-around walk around camera is the Sony a7r ii with the 35 1.4. It’s such a fun lens to use, very sharp, nice bokeh and great for lifestyle and portraits. I just purchased the new Sony 24-70 2.8 (not shown in this photo) and this has been my new go-to lens for most stuff, because it's just so versatile and is tack sharp throughout.”

How long have you been using the drone? A lot of photographers have one nowadays.
“I started out using the Inspire 1 drone probably a year and half ago, but downsized to the Phantom 3 Pro for when traveling. There was no quality loss in video or photo when moving down to the Phantom 3, just smaller motors and an easier to travel with kit. It fits perfectly in the DJI backpack case. On my international trips I'll typically pack that with the SPL water housing, and a large 75mm tripod. It all fits perfectly in the im2975 Pelican Case and is still under 50 pounds. I hate paying those overweight fees!”

Tell us about those underwater housings.
“The yellow housing is an SPL that fits my FS7. It is pretty heavy compared to the other one I use for the Sony a6300, but the quality that comes out of the FS7 for 4k is incredible. Being able to film at 4k 60fps and pull stills from this is still a huge bonus. Filming in 1080 I can slow it down to about 180fps for some really nice shots. I'll typically use my Sony a6300 if I need to travel light for the day, or just need a few quick pickup shots for video. For photos, it’s incredibly fast and accurate with the autofocus system. It really blows me away when considering how small the camera is. I used the FS7 in this video with Tia Blanco.

Any items you wish you could add to your bag?
“Honestly, I'm pretty happy with my setup right now. I would probably like to add the new soon-to-be-released Sony 50mm 1.4, and swap out the Sony70-200 f4 for the new 2.8. Oh, and maybe Season 6 of Game of Thrones when it releases, haha!”

Check out a selection of Justin’s shots below and find out more by visiting his website 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.

In A Flash: Jumping out of planes to take photos

Photographer Wolfgang Lienbacher is no stranger to jumping out of planes which, mind you, still fly and work fine. As a photographer for the Red Bull Skydive Team, he spends more time outside of the plane and soaring through the sky then in one. Check out just how he makes his photos...

Making epic photographs while flying through the air isn't the easiest of tasks. Now image doing this while your camera is mounted on your helmet and you can't actually see the shots you're taking. In those conditions, to get the type of shots that Wolfie snaps on a daily basis, takes some serious skill. 

Check out the video to see just how Wolfgang makes those spectacular shots and then check out the gallery for a taste of a day in the life of Wolfie. 

Ray Demski kicks up the heat

Ray Demski drops his latest personal project, 'Fireball', combining freestyle football, parkour and beat boxing. Check out the fiery shoot below.

© Ray Demski

No stranger to pushing the limits to get the shots he wants, Ray Demski went one step further for his latest passion project entitled ‘Fireball’. The short action film features athletes Lucas Wilson and Christian Kerschdorfer combine parkour and freestyle football in a fiery high-speed battle of acrobatic skill with a burning ball.

The battle is set off by beatboxer Madox, who keeps the beat rolling using only his voice right to the last fiery kick.

The flames in the video are completely real, leading to a few burnt hairs during the making of the film. “Why not a fireball, you know? How can we bring it up to the next level and just kick up the heat a little?,” said Demski during the shoot.

Check out the fiery images and behind-the-scenes video in the gallery below. For more on Ray and his work, head to 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.