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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

©Patrick Rochon
©Patrick Rochon
©Patrick Rochon

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© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool

5 Tips for shooting Skydiving and Wingsuit Flying

Photographer Michael Clark recently completed another great shoot in Arizona with the Red Bull Air Force. Shooting B.A.S.E. jumping, skydiving and wingsuit flying is notoriously difficult even for top photographers – so Red Bull Illume caught up with Clark to discuss some pro tips. Enjoy five great tips from the adventure sports photographer below:

#1 Use a high framing rate
The athletes are falling away from you at 9.81 m/s2, which means within a second they are moving at over 160 km/h. Hence, it helps massively to have a camera with a fast framing rate. I’d say 8 frames per second (fps) minimum, 10-12 fps or more is a much better option.

#2 Work with the athletes to set up the shot
Before they jump off the cliff or exit the airplane, have a discussion with the athletes so that you know what they are going to do and you can position yourself accordingly. When working with B.A.S.E. jumpers get as close to the take off positions as possible or move to the side so you can get a figure-in-a-landscape type image showing part of the huge cliff and the exposure. If you are mounting a camera on a skydiver’s helmet, explain what type of images you would like to get. It will usually take several jumps to help get things dialed in if you are directing the athlete.

#3 Use remote cameras to get additional images
Since the athletes become a dot in the sky so quickly, the only way to get images in the air is with a camera mounted on a helmet that is either remotely triggered or constantly shooting via an intervalometer. My Nikon D4 can shoot raw images at 4 fps until it fills up the card. Hence, I can mount it on a helmet and just let it rip for the entire descent. Andy Farrington, of the Red Bull Air Force team, uses a mouth trigger to take images with his Canon 5D Mark III. He bites down on the trigger while flying to shoot images and composes them with a custom made eye-sight.

#4 For B.A.S.E. jumping use PocketWizards to trigger multiple cameras
When shooting B.A.S.E. jumping I use multiple cameras set up on tripods to shoot the action from a few different angles. To trigger the cameras, I use PocketWizard radio transceivers. I mount one on the camera I am shooting with and then attach one to each of the other cameras so that every time I take a photo the remote cameras are also firing.

#5 Crank your ISO up to gain Depth of Field
Because the athletes are moving so fast, the autofocus on even the best pro DSLRs will have a hard time keeping up and you won’t really have any idea of where they are going to be in the frame until they jump. In some cases just keeping the athlete in the frame can be difficult. Hence, I recommend cranking up the ISO settings and using a smaller aperture like f/8 or f/11 if possible. Doing so will give you an extra cushion with the autofocus, making sure that the athletes are in focus no matter what the composition.  

Be sure to check out more of Michael’s work on his website.

© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
Photographer: Rutger Pauw, Athlete: Ben Hennon, Location: Campo de Piedra Pomez, Argentina

5 top action sports photographers to follow on Instagram

Interested in following top action sports photographers on Instagram? Red Bull Illume highlights a few favorite Instagram accounts and why they deserve your follow…

Apart from posting jaw-dropping surf photography, Brian Bielmann posts some killer behind-the-scenes shots and regularly gives away prints to his fans.

Rutger Pauw posts a super mixture of locations, tips, behind-the-scenes snaps and of course, his breathtaking final shots. If you’re a BMX photographer or fan, you have no excuse.

Due to the wide variety of his projects, it’s always fascinating finding out what Lucas Gilman is up too. He covers almost every kind of location and adventure shoot, so his updates are pretty mind-blowing.

Dan Vojtech’s creativity shines through in his account – pictures of lighting setups, locations and gear serve as teasers for his ongoing projects. Add to this other creative shots from his daily life and results from his shoots, and you’ve got an inspiring mix.

Between posting incredible images from a variety of innovative shoots, Samo Vidic posts some humourous snaps from his daily life, interesting locations and a few shots of himself in action and with athletes. Cool account from a cool guy!

© Jeremy Bernard/Red Bull Illume

Painting Powder with Jeremy Bernard

The New Creativity category in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest always brings out exciting results – one of those being Jeremy Bernard’s Top 250 shot of athlete Jérémie Heitz (above). The concept was a unique ski shoot with Mammut pro freeriders Nicolas and Loris Falquet through snow colored with eco-friendly pigment.

However execution turned into a nightmare. In their first attempt, the team attempted to use fire extinguishers filled with the biodegradable colored pigments, but this method proved unsuitable for the challenges of the task in hand. It was impossible to achieve even coverage across a large area of snow – and the project stalled.

A few months later, Nicolas Falquet made a chance discovery at a farming exhibition in the Swiss canton of Valais. He came across an atomizer – a portable motorized vaporizer used to spray large areas of land. A solution had been found and the team of four once again set to work at their local ski area of Les Marecottes. After 15 days, the team finally achieved the results they were after. Enjoy the photographs in the accompanying gallery and Mammut’s BTS video.

© Mammut/Jeremy Bernard
© Mammut/Jeremy Bernard
© Mammut/Jeremy Bernard
© Mammut/Jeremy Bernard
Photographer: Dave Lehl, Athlete: Isiah Sanchez, Location: Denver, CO, USA

5 futuristic predictions for action sports photography in 2014

As 2014 kicks off, the Red Bull Illume team peers into the crystal ball and discusses five new trends that could redefine the photography landscape…

Medium-format revolution
All signs are pointing to a new wave – from new Nikon patents to the development of amateur cameras. In order to stay ahead, will it be time to transition to medium format? The larger sensor ultimately offers better image quality than a regular DSLR sensor.

Morphing of video and images
Now that RAW images can be pulled from video, we may see photographers being asked to work with such high-end video cameras as the EPIC RED, where this is possible. It's not as sharp as a pro-end DSLR yet but it's getting close. And it may be that some shoots in the future will want to streamline workflow by shooting with one camera that can record video and stills. But we think the DSLR will still be around for a while yet.

3D printing
The 3D printing future has arrived and soon consumers and photography fans may be able to print out their favorite action sports shots in 3D. Perhaps the time has come to look into the possibilities of a 360º booth. Some photographers are already experimenting with this, but so far it seems no one is from the action sports genre.

Spherical photography
With the recent burst of spherical technology, such as the BUBBL, the Panono cam and the waterproof 360 Geonaute, it seems the appeal of 360 degree images is also on the rise. Is it a fad or is it here to stay?

CGI for commercial images
For photographers who work in the commercial field, the growing trend of creating composite images with CGI is gathering pace. Now is a good time to learn how to use CGI software or start working with digital artists in order to stay up to date.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook!    

Making of: Red Bull winter athlete shoot

Red Bull Illume joins photographer Markus Berger on this studio shoot with Red Bull's winter athletes. The concept of the shoot, supported by Red Bull Creative, was to create a set of unique action shots and portraits with a continuous theme that revealed the athletes as individuals but also part of a team. Each athlete was shot 'in action', sometimes using climbing ropes to hold them in place. The shoot also included a light-hearted and experimental aspect to showcase the athlete's individual character.

© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool
© Markus Berger/Red Bull Content Pool

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