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 Jaroměř, 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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Jimmy Chin on capturing moments no one else can
“I had this sense that life is really short… even when I was young, it just seemed like I didn’t have that much time. And there was this urgency to live in a meaningful way – in a way that made sense to you.”
What made ‘sense’ to Jimmy Chin, was to become a world-class climber, adventure junky and extreme photographer. Check out this behind the scenes video of Jimmy as he talks about what drives him to tackle the world's most difficult expeditions with his camera in hand.
You can also visit Jimmy’s website here, or follow him on Facebook here.
Making of series: Shooting sports events
In our very latest throwback videos series, Red Bull Illume revisits event photographer Jesper Grønnemark as he heads off to shoot a sports event. From location-scouting to gear, to positioning and final selection, find out what it takes to shoot an event and get a good idea of what you can expect!
Visit Jesper's website or find him on Facebook.
Dan Vojtech sheds some light on night sky photography
Red Bull Illume photographer Dan Vojtech recently captured a series of awe-inspiring shots of canoe athlete, Martin Fuksa in his native Czech Republic. The Red Bull Illume team caught up with Dan to discuss how he went to work...
Tell us about the shoot.
“For night sky photography, it’s very important to select the right place and time. We selected a place close to the small village of Stedra in Czech Republic. It’s a dark sky area with special streetlights that don’t corrupt the dark night sky. You can see more than 2000 stars – normally in the city, it’s 10 times less."
So the setting was the perfect huh?
"Yes. There are also several ponds, so it was perfect. When you want to shoot stars, you have to select a date when there is no moon so you can see more stars."
Who’s on the canoe?
"It’s one of the best world canoe athletes Martin Fuksa, who is the new U23 1000m canoe world champion."
How’d you go to work?
"I had a new Nikon D810A camera, which is designed for night sky photography. We also had several flashes. Some of them were in waterproof cases so we could use them on or under water. It wasn’t easy to shoot, because we had to capture Martin from the water and could only use the lights during action.
But we had a great team and it was really fun! After the shoot we made a fire, cooked some meat and enjoyed this great place."
Hit up Dan’s website & Facebook page for more of his inspiring work.
Letting it all hang out above Lake Geneva
As part of his adventure film and photography project “13 Faces of Valais”, Red Bull Illume photographer David Carlier recently found himself sitting in a helicopter, shooting two hang gliders high above Lake Geneva, Switzerland. We caught up with David after his latest excursion:
Tell us about it…
“13 Faces of Valais” is all about outdoor sports in the Swiss region of Valais. As I was directing the movie, I also took still photos on every set. In this case, the hang glider is well-known skier Jeremie Heitz who finished 2nd in the last Freeride World Tour. The images were shot at sunset above Lake Geneva.
How did you manage to get the shots?
We filmed the action from a helicopter using a Cineflex. I shot from up-close, while sitting next to the Cineflex operator with the doors open.
How did you prepare?
I’m a keen paraglider and know the area very well. So I proposed the location to Jeremie and his friend Pierre – and off we went. We travelled there twice to prepare for the flight and to find the perfect shooting angles.
What challenges did you face?
Trying to understand the flow of the action and large amplitude maneuvers. Jeremie flies at over 100km/h, so it doesn’t last very long and there’s little chance to repeat the flight. We also wanted to catch that amazing orange golden light just before sunset, so timing was essential. Then you have to factor in the wind, the challenges associated with two hang gliders taking off simultaneously and shooting from a helicopter.
What gear did you use?
The Leica S system with a 35mm and a 120mm. It’s the only camera capable of catching that amount of light while still getting the low light information. The dynamic range of this camera is huge!
Lots! A downhill MTB shoot, a portrait series for US Powder Magazine, some sailing shoots in the Mediterranean… and probably some time off! I also have the “13 Faces of Valais” premiere coming up, which includes the hang gliding footage.
Check out the “13 Faces of Valais” trailer or visit David’s site for more of his work.
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.