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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The low light challenge - Rutger Pauw on shooting Red Bull Hardline
2013 Red Bull Illume finalist Rutger Pauw faced tough photo conditions during Red Bull Hard Line, but thanks to some quick thinking during preparation, he got some stunning photographs.
"I got to shoot Red Bull Hard Line last week, it’s one of the (if not) gnarliest down hill mountain bike races in the world. Dan Atherton spent months preparing this course with some of the biggest jumps and gaps mountain biking has seen," said Pauw.
"Usually, I would bring two flashes to a race like this, and shoot at spots on the course, setting up, and moving to the next spot when I feel happy with the shot. In this case though, things worked out completely different."
"Because the course was so demanding (and intimidating), practice was done in one big group of guys coming down the mountain, and us photographers with shoddy knees trying to keep up with them."
"I was really happy I thought of bringing my broncolor Para 88 because it ended up saving my day. I had an assistant on site, who would follow the riders holding the Move head MobiLED through the air, making sure I always had the right light. This would have never worked with me setting up with light stands."
"Then, in the forest the Para really worked out great, light conditions were very poor, and most guys were cranking up the ISO very high. We just attached the Para, which took less than a minute, and could start shooting straight away, and I was so happy with the result. It doesn’t even feel like flash light to me, it’s so natural, but still crispy without harsh shadows."
This article originally appeared on the broncolor blog
The Illume Effect: Jody MacDonald
In a brand-new series leading up to Red Bull Illume 2016, we sit down with notable former finalists and photographers to find out more about the impact the contest has had on their careers. First up is adventure sport photographer Jody MacDonald, who had two images in the Top 50 and another in the Top 250 in 2013. Here's what she had to say:
Has Red Bull Illume made any difference to your career?
"The great thing about Red Bull Illume is that it validates you as a professional photographer to the outside world. People definitely perceive you more as a professional and because of that you’re simply more inclined to get more work."
Did you get more assignments?
"I would most definitely say it did! It gave me a lot more exposure. I did a lot of interviews and it got more people interested in featuring my work. But what it really does? It catapults your photography into the mainstream in a way that’s hard to do otherwise. Red Bull has such a broach reach."
Can you give an example?
"It’s not a quantifiable thing but Red Bull Illume has definitely had something to do with a couple of projects I’m working on, including a trip I’m about to go on."
Tell us more…
"I can’t! I signed an NDA but it’s a trip in Africa."
What’s your view on Red Bull Illume photography as a whole?
"I’m a photographer. It’s candy for me! Over the years the caliber has gone up and up. It’s the best of the best."
So will you enter again?
"Yes. I have one image that I know for sure I’ll submit."
What’s the secret to an image doing well?
"It has to be well thought through. It can’t just be a lucky shot, that percentage is so small now. It has to be one of the best shots of your entire career! It’s like that quote; ‘you’re lucky if you take 10 great shots in your lifetime’. Those are the ones that go into Red Bull Illume."
Lastly, what’s your own favorite image?
"That one where you got to see the whole dune. That photo encapsulates that whole experience in Mozambique. I love the colors, and it has a bit of meaning for me."
View some of Jody’s images in the gallery and find out more about her work on her website or Facebook page.
The world's greatest action and adventure sports photography contest is back and better than before with the addition of a new mobile category. Find all information here and mark Dec 1, 2015 on your calendars! That's when submissions open.
Visit the Red Bull Illume Facebook page for regular updates.
Scratching the Serfas: Shooting Red Bull Joyride 2015
Legendary Red Bull action photographer Scott Serfas recently headed to Whistler, Canada to shoot mountain biking’s biggest contest – Red Bull Joyride. See how he went to work.
Combining elements of slopestyle, dirt jump and North Shore-style mountain biking, Red Bull Joyride fuses together rough natural terrain with man-made elements to create one of the most challenging slopestyle courses on the planet.
"Being able to shoot this event is an amazing opportunity. All the best guys from all over the world are here, and it's the contest that means the most to them, so it's definitely cool to be a part of it."
With an event like Red Bull Joyride, Serfas likes to let the athletes do their thing, while during other events, there's a lot more coordination between the athlete and the photographer.
“Every event is different. During a competition like Joyride, I don’t say anything to them – they just want to win, the last thing they are concerned about is getting a good photo. I'm just there to document what happens," says Serfas.
“But then for another event like Uncontainable, Drew and I spoke a lot about what angles were good and what kind of tricks he should think about doing. I'll offer up some suggestions but leave it in the athletes' hands to make the final call. We work together to create a great shot."
Joined by photography partners in crime, Jussi Grznar and Mason Mashon, Serfas and his crew scoped every possible vantage point to find the best angles to capture the 2-hour event.
“I try to put the athletes in a good spot in the frame, and shoot from an angle that represents what they are doing in a proper way and then make an interesting photo around that. I really try to emphasize what they are doing – I am not doing abstract art."
With a sea of 25,000 fans, the biggest tricks and pure athlete emotion on display – the event was a real challenge to shoot. But with the skilled Mr. Serfas behind the lens, the results look amesome.
Check out the image gallery to the right or take a peek at the video here.
Scott Serfas is also a former Red Bull Illume Image Quest Category Winner – find out more about Red Bull Illume 2016.
You can also head to Scott’s website for more of his work.
In A Flash with Leo Rosas Morin: Bringing Skateboarding and Light Painting Together
In our first video for the brand-new 'In a Flash' series, photographer Leo Rosas Morin takes you through combining the worlds of light painting and skateboarding photography, with a little help from skateboarders Philipp Josephu and Max Geiselbrechtinger.
The Art of Shooting Underwater Portraits
In our latest Throwback video, photographer Jean Luis De Heeckeren visits Austria and tries something new – an underwater photo shoot with Red Bull kayaker Viktoria Wolffhardt. Supported by Red Bull photographers, De Heeckeren steps outside his photographic comfort zone and tests out some new concepts. Watch the BTS from the shoot and see how he handles it!