Red Bull Illume Opens in 10 days

Red Bull Illume Opens in 10 days


Just 10 days remain until submissions open for the 2013 edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest, the world's greatest action and adventure sport photography contest. From December 1st, photographers will be able to enter their images online at in a bid to compete for the honor of winning the prestigious competition.

Already the first judges have been confirmed. These include Kim Scott-Clark, former picture editor of the London Daily Telegraph and now a picture editor at the Daily Mail – one of the world's most popular online newspapers. Other judges include Jym Wilson, senior photo editor at USA Today and Richard Brooks, deputy photo director for Asia-Pacific with AFP.

A number of editors from top sports publications will also sit on the judging panel. These include Steve Fine, photography director at Sports Illustrated, Hannah McCaughey, Creative Director at Outside magazine, Simon Caney, editor-in-chief of Sport (UK) and Naima Mancini, photo editor of Italy's Sportweek.  

And because Red Bull Illume also looks at the culture and lifestyle behind action sports, a number of judges come from the world's coolest urban and lifestyle magazines. These include Gina Batlle, photo editor of Complex, Sebastien Zanella, editor of France's Desillusion and James Mullinger, photo director of GQ (UK).

In all, 50 judges will be selected from around the world. They will have the difficult task of selecting the 50 best images in 10 categories and an overall winner.

For a list of the confirmed judges, please visit this link.

Dimitris Karathanos is typical of the judges who have come on board. The senior editor of SOUL magazine says he's looking forward to the competition. "I  love sports photography for its charisma to portray humanity during extreme conditions. I love the effort, courage and determination in those pictures. It's a great honor to be a Red Bull Illume judge."

With Leica, broncolor and Sun-Sniper Red Bull Illume has found the perfect partners. The overall winner will receive the new Leica S camera, while category winners will each receive a Leica X2. Other prizes will include broncolor's new Move, their portable flash and the latest strap system from Sun-Sniper.

Read the latest stories

Tim Kemple: What's in the bag?

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

© Tim Kemple

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

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

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

If you could add one item to your pack?

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

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

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

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

The Athlete's Perspective: Gavin McClurg

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

Red Bull Illume 2013: Jody MacDonald, Illumination category finalist

© Jody MacDonald / Red Bull Illume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into The Dirt: Freeride MTB out in the wild

The concept of Into The Dirt was first brought up by bike team inFocus, who wanted to take freeride mountain biking to dramatic new places around the world and explore different types of terrain, capturing everything along the way. Photographer Toby Cowley was asked to shoot stills and document the journey of riders Kyle Jameson and brothers Andi and Michi Tillmann, Florian Berghammer, Vincent Tupin, Martin Söderström and Markus Reiser.

© Toby Cowley / Red Bull Content Pool

“It’s kind of hard to talk about all of the trips together because each was so different,” Toby says. “From the volcanic eruptions on Mt Etna in Sicily, Italy to the extreme weather in Iceland, there was always a different challenge to overcome. But this is what excites me the most about being a photographer – you just don’t really know how incredible each trip is going to be until you’re actually shooting there.”

Toby and the team visited four locations in all: Sicily, Africa, Iceland and Alaska.

“Iceland turned out to be the hardest of all to shoot in,” he says. “Even before I got on the plane I’d set myself some pretty high expectations of the shots I aimed to get on the trip. I’d seen photos of the locations before and it looked unreal, and seeing it in person when we were there just blew me away.”

But what Toby hadn’t accounted for was the extent to which the landscape in Iceland is protected by conservation law, which meant the areas that the team could ride on were restricted.

“We had to give up on a couple of perfect locations because of this, and settle for something else instead. On top of that it poured with rain for 7 of the 10 days, which left us with a pretty small window in which to shoot,” he recalls.

Nevertheless, the team brought home some pretty amazing images of the trip. 

Thinking back to Namibia; “That trip stands out above the rest for me. Especially the day that we went to shoot in the towering dunes at Sandwich Harbour,” Toby says.

“There was a lot of risk involved. We had to drive along a long narrow stretch of beach to get to our location and if we’d have got stuck or timed the tides badly then we’d have lost everything. Plus we didn’t even know if the dunes would be ridable, but such an unreal location right on the coast meant that is was a gamble worth taking."

"It turned out the dunes were relatively hard packed thanks to the moisture in the air from the ocean, so the boys wasted no time unpacking their gear and hiking to the top. We had two amazing hours shooting there, with this stunning ocean backdrop before an approaching weather front meant we had to head inland, to Dune 7. We finished in high spirits after an incredible sunset shoot – golden hour in the desert is really something else.”

Using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a small collection of lenses, Toby aimed to capture both the action and the environment: “I really wanted to show the beauty of the landscape while still making the rider, and their style, the focal point of the images.”“Photographing biking in these incredible conditions is often not an easy task. There are so many factors that need to come together in order to produce a good shot, and often the rider will only do a line once before moving on to the next one. You have to make every shot count!"

“There were so many amazing moments, and I feel like we really only scratched the surface at some of those locations. There are a few I’m hoping to revisit in the future for sure.”

Make sure to check out the gallery below for some spectacular shots and follow Toby on Facebook and Instagram

See more photos on Red Bull Photography. Check out the full Into The Dirt series here:

Into the Dirt: Battling the elements in Iceland 

Into the Dirt of Mount Etna 

Into the Dirt: Explore the wilds of Africa 

Carving freeride lines in the Alaskan wilderness

Out of the Shadows: Miles Holden shoots MTB

In this episode of In A Flash, we look at how different focal lengths can give you different results. Miles Holden and Conor Macfarlane hung out on New Zealand's South Island and got some great results.

Sometimes, you just need to take a step back, look at everything again and bring everything back to the basics. Location, model, camera, you don't always need more than that. That's exactly what Miles Holden thought when he came up with one of his latest projects. 

“Shadows and silhouettes are something I’ve always had a fascination with, though I’ve never had the chance to use them for such an extended period of time,” Miles reveals.

“My plan was to show the athlete in a big-landscape setting, and create beautiful scenic images with an action element to them.”

Together with local mountainbike rider Conor Macfarlane, Miles travelled to New Zealand's South Island to bring his idea to life. Using a long telephoto lens and Conor as a distant subject, Miles captured landscape and rider in unison, as a silhouette, bringing everything back to the core. 

“The vibe was high all day and we all took home some big smiles and amazing memories of an epic day, spent in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

Check out more of Miles' work on his website and make sure to follow him on Instagram

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

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

Tim Korbmacher: What's in the bag?

Former Red Bull Illume category finalist, Tim Korbmacher has been addicted to skate and snowboarding most of his life. In our latest ‘What’s in the bag’, we take a look at what he uses to get his shots.

© Tim Korbmacher

Have you dropped or damaged any gear recently?
“Luckily I can say that only some light stands and flashbulbs get damaged by windy conditions or when a Skateboard/BMX drops in.”

Which item in your bag can’t you live without?
“That’s definitely my flashes. I really love flash. Sometimes you carry around so much gear you don’t need, but it’s always good to have everything packed that you might need in different situations.”

Any surprising items you carry?
“I always carry 7 lucky stones that I got from my little son.”

If you could add any one item to your pack, what would it be?
“I don’t know yet because the wish list is too big and space is too little without a sherpa, haha!”

How do you feel about Red Bull Illume 2016?
“It will be not so easy with all the sick photographers out there. I’m already very excited to see all the next level shots from all over the world and all the photographers who entered. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tim’s full gear list:
Canon EOS 5D MK |||
Canon 50mm f/1.4
Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM
Canon 17-40mm f/4 L USM
Tokina Fisheye 10-17mm
2x Elinchrom Quadra RX/ A-Heads
2x Elinchrom Quadra 18cm reflector
2x  Elinchrom 18cm Honeycomb  former
3x Pocketwizard Plus |||
2x Calumet 8 Ultra compact light stands
Slik Sprint Mini Tripod

Not on the Picture:
Canon Remote Trigger TC-80
SanDisk CF-Cards
Customized Jogging Gloves with removable finger caps
iPhone 6
Macbook Pro Retina 13“
LaCie hard drives
Charger, card reader, cables and batteries
Lucky stones
Leatherman Multitool

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

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

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

The Athlete's Perspective: Emily Harrington

To celebrate action sports photographers and their work, we talk to their biggest fans – the athletes. Below, climber Emily Harrington salutes the photographers she’s worked with.

© Jon Glassberg, Louder Than Eleven (

“Being able to work with photographers has been integral to my career. Without them you wouldn’t be able to share the story and that’s the whole point. Some of it we can do on our own with our iPhones. But having someone there, being able to create an image of what you’re doing is pretty important for me. 

In the last year I worked with photographer Jon Glassberg. We’ve done some amazing projects together in the last year. I did a free route on El Capitan, Golden Gate and he basically spent all six days up there, hanging from the ropes, lugging all his camera equipment up there with him, rigging shots, like these crazy shots from 3,000 ft off the ground. It’s so much work. The images are just absolutely amazing. My story wouldn’t have been near as special without him.

A few years ago I went to China with Tim Kemple. He took some shots of me climbing in this cave with these stalactites dripping down. There’s this shot that was on the cover of photography magazine. That was in 2008 and I still see that photo around.

Someone who’s photography I really like is Cory Richards. I’ve been on a couple of trips with him. He’s really open about talking about his photography. The way he describes his photographs, the work it takes, it’s pretty inspiring.

Things that don’t naturally look like climbing tend to bother me. I appreciate photographs of climbing that actually show the effort and intensity required to perform certain sequences. I like to see that kind of emotion and it’s really hard to get if you don’t understand climbing as a photographer. So that’s why I tend to be picky with who I work with. There’s an understanding there that has to happen to make it authentic. It’s definitely a partnership. 

A favorite image of me? Probably one of the photographs that Jon Glassberg took recently on El Capitan on the pitch, Golden Desert. It was one of the most beautiful pitches I’ve ever completed – one beautiful long finger crack. The way he got the shot, you can see how high off the ground I am, the trees below. It’s a super classic Yosemite photograph, and something I always dreamed about having. As a kid as I’d always wanted to free climb El Cap and saw those shots of Lynn Hill on The Nose so for me having someone shoot a photo of me like that was pretty special.

Photographers are incredibly important for climbers. Outdoor sports are so just beautiful and capturing that is super important to share and inspire people.”

Photo © Jon Glassberg

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

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

“Beneath the Surface” - Bringing together BMX, UV and Viki Gomez

Photographer Markus Berger met up with legendary flatland BMX'er Viki Gomez in Luxemburg to shoot one of his personal projects.

"Two of my friends were luckily joining and supporting this shoot – awesome photographer Rutger Pauw and creative filmer Matty Lambert. The project has been started over 1 year ago and since then I captured different sports and top athletes with only UV light using special adapters from broncolor.

It has been a real challenge so far and every shoot and every sport offered new challenges and exciting image results. This time the focus was Viki and his freestyle sport, his total commitment and his will to push limits and experimenting with new tricks.

I came up with the concept of having Viki to pull a trick on his bike while surrounded by soap bubbles. Soap Bubbles are not fixed in form, color or lifespan and are in a way unpredictable and simply free floating. I thought that this goes very well hand in hand with Vikis general mindset and approach to his sport and character.

Eventually the concept and the final image combines the beauty and complexity of both the sport and the photography behind.

Viki organized a really cool and industrial looking location and thanks to the people there we had total freedom. That was crucial as we originally planned one day for the shoot but then spent actually almost 2 days in the basement. We used several liters of special UV soap bubble water, bubble maker machines and tools to get different sizes, shapes and especially a huge number of bubbles."

...Read more about the 'Beneath the Surface' project on

The Athlete's Perspective: Steve Fisher

No one better understands what action sports photographers go through than the athletes themselves. Below, Red Bull athlete and kayaking legend Steve Fisher tells us why photography is essential – and why taking out the trash is a vital skill for expedition photographers.

© Desré Pickers / Red Bull Content Pool

“My connection to Red Bull Illume was that I was in a photograph that was the People’s Choice winner in the first edition in 2007. It’s a shot by my then girlfriend Desré Pickers of three kayakers looking over the edge of a waterfall. Red Bull flew me to Aspen for the award ceremony to give a speech so I know the event; I think it’s great and I’m a big fan.

It’s easy to understand the importance of photography if you try and visualise the X Games with no photographs. Or if you take a ski town like Aspen and try to imagine its existence without any photographs. Media outcome on what would otherwise be a fringe activity is an essential part of the equation, and that means photography.

For many of us, capturing the shot is the adventure. When we’re planning to run a drop, we plan the safety and all that but an equal layer is thinking where the photographers and filmers are going to be. We patiently set that all up. We become super closely involved. 

There are a lot of layers to being a good photographer, especially on difficult expeditions. One, the photographer has to do the expedition, whether that’s to hike along the side of a river or kayak down it himself. Remember, if the athlete is exposed to that environment, so is the photographer.

The photographer has to be an adventurer. They have to be capable of taking care of themselves in that environment; you can’t have a photographer that you have to babysit. In addition there’s that all important team player aspect. The photographer has to be someone you want to hang out with in a difficult environment. Running an expedition is like running a small business in that everyone must be willing to do everything. If I have photographer on an expedition and I need him to take out the trash, I need him to be fully keen and willing to take out the trash! 

I personally like a shooter who likes to get uncomfortable to get the shot. Hanging off trees and cliffs, that should be a given. If I’m bringing a photographer on a trip I fully expect that he should know how to do those things. To get the shot a photographer needs to be able to do things nobody else can do – or is willing to do.

Desré and I travelled together for many years and the story of how we worked it out is the same story for many athletes: we had two streams of income – through the photographs she sold and the other was the money I made because of the outcome that I got through the photographs. That created a viable way for me to do my sport.

All of us athletes, skiers, dirt bike riders, any Red Bull athlete, the one thing we all have in common is that we would try and live our adventurous lifestyle with or without media and sponsors. We would try. We all start with passion. Once we realise that there are ways, you start coming together in groups and teams; we draw in filmers and photographers and we start creating the win win recipes.

If you’re thinking about trying to be an athlete the conversation ends if you don’t have photographs. Red Bull Illume is at the apex at that exposure. It also gives photographers the opportunity to have a worthy tribute.”

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

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

Agustin Muñoz shoots mobile

Agustin Muñoz is best known for his work in the water, but the former Red Bull Illume finalist is also a fan of mobile photography. He tells us why.

© Agustin Muñoz

You’ve always shot with your phone?
"Yes. I’ve been using the phone camera since they started with the little Motorola and tiny 1.2MP cameras! The funny thing is, I was talking to another friend, a photographer of 55 years, really old school photography film guy, and he was saying it’s not about the camera you have and whether it’s good or bad. it’s knowing how you use it. Whether it’s a 50MP pro camera or a 2MP phone if you know the tool, you can get a stunning image. If you take advantage of that cheap lens or that bit of plastic in front of the lens you can do weird things you can’t get with a pro camera. It’s all about taking advantage of the tool."

What tool are you using now?
"My phone is an iPhone 6. It has a pretty dynamic range which allows you to tweak the photo and there’s also a really cool stabiliser on the lens. You can also take advantage of low light situations which are the most dramatic moments. For fashion and lifestyle – and moving images – I use a Sony A7R Mark II. It’s mirrorless but full frame. But I use my Canon DSLR mostly for action sports, shooting surfing and bike, BMX, skate. For that, it’s the camera!"

Do you use your iPhone professionally?
"I use the Sony a lot to shoot with. It has that WiFi thing so you can see the image right away on your phone. The screen on the phone allows me to zoom in more and see if it’s as sharp as I want, just to check. I just got back from Puerto Rico where I’m doing this project for Adidas. I’ve been following these girls with big Instagram followers at these running events on a daily basis, training, the clothing eating, everything. I take the photos with the Sony which allows me to use a cinematic style and send those to my phone and share via airdrop to all the girls so they can post right after the picture’s been taken. So my iPhone really helps with my job."

Any advantages of shooting with one?

"If you’re taking a portrait of someone you don’t know, you get a very nice look on the phone. It’s not the same if you pull out a huge camera with a 40-70mm lens with a lens hood. The person is relaxed – that’s one of the advantages of cellphone photography. Now, the new phones have pretty  much got everything you need for a web job."

What apps do you use?
"I like Snapseed for fixing photos. There are some nice time-lapse apps. You can now get those devices where you stick on your phone and it tilts so you can now have time-lapse with motion and that costs like 50 bucks. It’s awesome. Another app is a dimmer for the flashlight so you can get a portrait with a lower or higher power. I also have the Red Dot Camera app, which gives you the look of a rangefinder camera. One of the things I like to do is put my sunglasses in front of the camera. It’s like a filter. It’s an organic filter – not the same as Instagram!"

What are you working on right now?
"I just came back from Hawaii and saw some of the best surf I’ve seen in my life. I’m releasing now a magazine: Lineup Magazine. It’s going to be an App. It’s pretty cool, a lot of lifestyle, not just pro surfing."

Any tips for shooting with a phone?
"Don’t use the flash that comes with the phone and don’t use the zoom – treat it like a fixed lens. If you zoom in you lose a lot of quality. No flash, no zoom!" 

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

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

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

Olaf Pignataro: What's in the bag?

Former Red Bull Illume finalist Olaf Pignataro says he always aims for high quality images with a strong focus on creativity and a fresh photographic view. We caught up with Olaf to take a look at what gear he uses to get his shots.

© Olaf Pignataro

Firstly, what’s the duct tape for?
“Duct tape is lighter than a magic arm to fix a remote camera, and it may also be helpful to quickly fix an athlete's equipment, a broken car and so on.”

What lessons have you learnt about travelling with photography gear?
“I always bring the essential equipment with me – packed in a backpack small enough to be accepted as a carry-on on any flight. Not just cameras and lenses, but battery charges as well, just in case my hold luggage gets lost or delayed. I also avoid airlines with a strict weight policy for carry-on baggage. Lately, I don’t carry flashes with me that much anymore. They are bulky and heavy, and easy and cheap to rent. Finally, I keep my underwater housing equipment at home in a Peli case. This way, if I need it while traveling, I can ask a friend to pick it up and ship it to me.”

Are those Sony headphones? Tell us about them?
“Headphones are a must for traveling – not only for listening to music or watching a movie when stranded at the airport, but also to close off when seated next to crying baby when flying. The Sony MDR-XB950 is very comfortable and light, with soft ear cups designed for extended use.”

Have you entered Red Bull Illume this year?
“Yes of course! I have a couple of pictures I really like, but I submitted more – you never know which images the jury is going to choose, as judges come from a broad scope, with different backgrounds and taste in photography.”

Olaf’s full gear list:

D4 and D3
Zoom lens from 14 to 200mm
Pocket wizards (but no flashes)
GoPros & batteries + mounts
Air pump and paper tissues
USB car charges
Duct tape
Headphones and book

For more of Olaf Pignataro’s work, head to his website and Instagram.

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

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