Lights, Camera, Wakeboarding
The lengths to which photographers and athletes go to nail a shot is often extreme — especially with sights on an entry into Red Bull Illume in mind.
Just a few miles down the road from the lights and magic of Disney World and Universal studios was the setting for this light-painting photo shoot at Orlando, Florida’s OWC Cable Park. Onsite were Red Bull wake riders Adam Errington, Dallas Friday and Mike Dowdy.
After the park closed to the public, photographer Patrick Rochon shot the Red Bull Riders as they attacked the sliders and kickers on boards tricked out with intricate LED lighting. Play the video above for a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot, which took place over three nights in late March.
The shoot – which was done in conjunction with a local Red Bull-supported photography event called Snap! Orlando – included many challenges in preparation. It’s hard enough to shoot high-speed action in the dark – add in the tasks of outfitting the boards with the waterproof LCD light systems to staging the cameras, lighting and athletes in proper position to secure the shot, and you have yourself a serious photographic mission.
Some of the most inspired by the project were the athletes themselves. “It really is my movements painting this picture and helping this photo come to life!” says Errington, the 24-year-old wakeboarder at the top of his game.
For Rochon, the set-up and planning were extensive, but the motivation while shooting was simple: “Focus on the art, the creativity, and the beauty,” said Rochon, mid-shoot. Fortunately for him, he knew he could rely on the riders to offer performances worthy of the occasion. “I’m really impressed by the athletes,” he added. “They are so fluid in the water, and they understand naturally what we are trying to do here.”
Will the effort pay off? The best images have been held back to enter into Red Bull Illume. It will now be up to the judges to decide...
How hard would you work to get a shot into Red Bull Illume Image Quest? Don’t delay – show us your stuff. The submission period ends at the end of April! Enter here.
Snap! is a 4-day photography celebration showcasing the work of renowned photographers from May 2nd-5th. snaporlando.com
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Barrel of Fire: A Human Torch Goes Big-wave Surfing
Two action sports photographers, Tim McKenna and Ben Thouard recently captured some unique shots – of a surfer on fire. The surfer, Jamie O'Brien, is known as a barrel-riding master, movie producer, web series guru and all-round game changer. What people might not know is that Jamie O’Brien is also a complete madman.
After asking fans for stunt ideas for his original web series, he received a direct message on Instagram: “They said ‘it would be cool if you lit yourself on fire’ and I thought, might as well. So I went into Red Bull and I said ‘hey, I want to light myself on fire and go into a barrel at Teahupo’o,’ and they looked at me like are you for real?” Jamie recalls.
He was for real.
Over the course of the next 12 months, Jamie prepared for the challenge of his life – to ride a notoriously ferocious wave that happens to break over an extremely shallow, sharp coral reef off the coast of Tahiti – while on fire.
A year of preparation and numerous safety tests later, Jamie and his nearly 25-strong team were ready to make his fiery surfing dream a reality. “They were telling me how some people panic and react differently around the fire. So I was like god I hope I don’t panic,” says O’Brien. He didn’t, and the result was indescribable. “When you’re on fire in the barrel, the whole wave lights up fluorescent orange. It’s a really crazy feeling that you can’t even explain.”
It’s not an easy (or safe) process, but the result is a brilliantly illuminated surfer in the middle of the dark ocean. “It was pretty insane,” he says.
Check out Tim McKenna's and Ben Thouard's unique shots in the gallery below.
Black and white photography in skateboarding
In the next video in our Throwback series, Red Bull Illume photographer Fred Mortagne talks us through his passion for shooting black and white film and why he prefers to capture images that are not perfect replicas of reality. Despite his passion for analog, the Leica M Monochrom has tempted him to convert to shooting black and white digital as well.
A B&W Surf Photography Odyssey
Red Bull Illume photographer Jair Bortoleto began his journey becoming one of the most prolific Brazilian surf photographers by shooting exclusively in B&W. Our team caught up with Jair to discuss his style & his journey…
“B&W is my color. It's where I identify my style and aesthetics. I think you actually can see color in a black and white photograph!” says Jair. “I don't believe in a perfect shot. A lot of photographers look for the perfect shot, and I think it's impossible. We are imperfect human beings and it's impossible to create something perfect. What I believe it's in the pureness in the imperfection. We can be pure, at least a bit, and find this gap on the imperfection to create something unique, imperfect, but unique.”
It all started at a young age…
“I started taking photos when I was 9 years-old. My mom gave me a broken Yashica camera. Yes, broken... I used to run around the neighbor faking news photos!” laughs Jair.
“After living in the metropolis of São Paulo, my family moved to the coast, where I fell deeply into surfing and surfed my brains out for years. When I was 18, I went to Peru and Hawaii to surf, and took a point-and-shoot camera with me. After coming back some friends told me that I had a good eye for it!”
The age of B&W…
“I lived for a few months in Boston and fell in love with black and white photography. I soon started to shoot B&W exclusively. In 2005, after getting married in my local town of Santos, I started a photo project about the surf lifestyle in the city and shot the most iconic surfers from Santos, where the surf born in Brasil in the 30's. I published a book a year later and then kept shooting, contributing for various magazines and some group shows around the world in the following years.”
“In 2010 I was invited to become the editor of The Surfer's Journal Brasil, which would be released in 2011. I learned how to edit a magazine from the beginning. My teacher was the legendary editor Adrian Kojin. I scored the first cover shoot with a photo of João Mauricio Jabour, father of North Shore local hero Kiron Jabour."
"Right now I am working for Romeu Andreatta, editing and curating the Almasurf platform. I also just had my first real solo exhibition in NYC at the Picture Farm Gallery in Brooklyn, curated by legendary editor Toddy Stewart…
Be sure to follow Jair’s journey via his website.
Freezing the 400m Hurdle Champion Kariem Hussein
Red Bull Illume photographer Gian Paul Lozza recently completed a cool shoot with Kariem Hussein, the European Champion of 400m hurdles, using the broncolor Scoros.
“For some time now I was preparing this shoot with Kariem. He is an amazing guy and really cool to work with. It is obvious that we tried to capture his speed and especially his jumping over hurdles. But as always, I tried to do it differently,” says Gian Paul Lozza.
“Under the Ahtletic stadion in Zurich we found a perfect location for this shoot. There is a concrete tunnel with an indoor running track. We had different ideas of what we wanted to try out. One was to work with reflecting tape and reflective clothing. Another idea was to do something with mirrors and to finish, a classic, the all-in-one sequence.”
“As always when I want to capture something fast, I use the broncolor Scoros. This power packs together with Pulso Twin heads works perfectly if you need a lot of power and you want to freeze motion. And because I shoot everything with my Hasselblad with their bigger chip, I need even faster flash duration. The only way to control this, is bron’s cut off technichnology which is unbeatable.”
“For the sequential goal I needed power packs, which can recharge super-fast but also a lot of power, because I wanted to close aperture as much as possible to freeze the motion. For these kind of ideas, the Scoros with Twin heads are the perfect solution. Superfast recharging time with a lot of power. I’m used to capture these all-in-one sequences from my time as a snowboard photographer with natural light, but now it is cool to do the same with flashes. It opens a lot of new possibilities and I can develop new ideas to create images.”
This article originally appeared on the broncolor blog.
The Return Of The Ring of Fire
After recently showcasing an epic shoot by Claudio Casanova, the Red Bull Illume photographer has shared two more interesting shots with us and explained how he pulled them off with the help of his crew.
Steel wool shot:
“Roger nailed it in this session on what was arguably the smallest jump we've ever shot with this air method. This photo was taken just outside my hometown of Einsiedeln. I had the idea long before I scouted the spot and was lucky to find this tunnel just a short drive away from my house. Thanks to a very long exposure time it seems as if Roger was jumping through a ring of fire, but in reality the circle you see was drawn by myself before I snapped the picture as Roger hit the jump.
The effect of fire was simply made by a piece of burning steel wool attached to a wire whip which was tied to a rope. I triggered the camera via Pocket Wizard, fireman Deniz lit it up and I started swinging. After a couple of seconds of swinging I ran off and cleared the jump for the riders. Luck was also on our side due to the fact that we had a full moon that night, so no extra lights for the riders were needed.
Almost everything was perfect, which is rarely the case when shooting snowboarding!”
“For this project the timing was really crucial as we only had 30 seconds for the whole procedure. We built a perfectly symmetrical jump and started sessioning it as I positioned the camera. After we knew the approximate height of the jump, we set up a little scaffolding on a table I could perform my display of firework magic.
For this photo of Deniz, Mike was standing by the camera to check if the flashes and camera were working and gave a 30 second countdown for me to light the flare and start the exposure. Everything from removing the scaffolding to the rider dropping in was set to happen at a certain time during this countdown. If there were any delay it would not have worked.
The only source of light for the rider in the run in was a small headlamp, which also worked as an indicator in the shot if the action was captured at the right moment. As we were clearing the jump for the rider, Deniz was already getting closer. I rushed over to my flash setup and got ready to shoot. As soon as Deniz busted out his method, I fired the flash thus freezing a single shot into the long exposure photo.
We had a good feeling about this one so we rushed down to check the photo. All we heard was, “BOOM! That's the one!”… The position of the rider inside the ring was perfect and not something to take for granted. Most likely it would’ve taken another 50 tries to get it right like that!”
Be sure to check out Claudio’s website.