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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Shooting the Seven Seas Expedition
Last year photographer Kelvin Trautman joined swimmer and ocean advocate Lewis Pugh as he undertook to be the first person to undertake long distance swims in each of the Seven Seas: the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black, Red, Arabian and North Sea. This aim of the Seven Seas Expedition was to highlight the need for and importance of Marine Protected Areas. We caught up with Kelvin to discuss how the shoots went…
How did you prepare?
For this expedition, I spent a couple months doing long ocean swims to build up endurance and breath hold exercises so as to improve the time I could spend shooting underwater - in terms of the latter I had decided going into the expedition that, when shooting underwater I wanted to free dive rather than use any scuba equipment because of the flexibility it would give me.
What are some of the challenges you faced on this project?
As with most expeditions, a lack of time was our biggest challenge. Our travel schedule was really tight, leaving only two or three days in each location. This meant our shoot days were jam-packed but which also meant we had no contingency weather or logistic days to play with - we all needed a holiday after three weeks of this back-to-back schedule!
Any close shaves?
Capturing Lewis swimming between big oil tankers in the Bosphorus - the narrow stretch of water that runs through Istanbul and which joins the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara - was a little hair-raising. On this particular shoot day we had gale force winds, cold water temps, strong currents and irate shipping owners to deal with!
How important was your participatory approach to telling the story?
Very important. I looked to swim with Lewis, my underwater housing in tow, for as long as possible during each of the 7 swims for two reasons. One, if any of you have swum before you'll know how lonely and detached this form of exercise is and so I wanted to try get the layman at home to relate to this swimmer perspective. And two, coupled with the obvious fact that the world beneath the surface looks and feels vastly different to that above, the purpose of the expedition was to raise awareness to as much beauty as well as destruction in each of the 7 Seas marine environs.
What gear did you use?
In the water I mostly shot with Nikon D800 and a 16mm fisheye in an SPL housing.
Any tips on how to shoot with a waterproof housing?
Two things. One, remember saliva and saltwater are your two best ingredients in making a solution that prevents water droplets from sticking to your lens port. And two, remember your underwater housing is very buoyant and so if you plan on shooting below the surface then you likely to need a weight belt to keep you down.
Let's just say I have started to do some cold swim water training!
Shooting sports events with Jesper Grønnemark
Thinking of becoming an event photographer? Join 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.
Black and white photography in skateboarding
In this video, 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.
Making of: Infrared photography
Watch Danish photographer Esben Zøllner Olesen discuss his basic workflow when shooting infrared images with an IR-converted DSLR camera. Infrared photography may seem quite daunting, but Esben Zøllner Olesen delivers insight and tips for every stage of the process, right from gear setup to post-processing to create a nice overview of the technique which can capture some stunning results.
Photo credits: Esben Zøllner Olesen
The Dark Night: a 3D-printed sequence
Red Bull Illume photographer Dan Vojtěch has spent the last 4-5 months working on a 3D-printed miniature model of a wakeboarder sequence shot. The project has finally been released – and Dan explains how it all went down:
“I was doing a personal project for 3DGang print company and I saw a creative opportunity with this technology!
First, I had the idea to have shoot with a small 3D-printed figure – but soon the idea developed into a sequence shot. I phoned wakeboarder Zuzana Vrablova, who loved the idea and came to Prague.
We planned the concept together and decided to shoot 8 or 9 different poses for different moments of the sequence. As each ‘frame’ of the sequence had to be shot individually, Suzanna had to imagine what the correct position was – we had a big screen so she could check her body position was correct after each shot!
Afterwards, we printed the models – I was surprised at how much handiwork was required – the figures were fragile and also needed a kind of glue to make them harden. We also added colours, of course.
The finishing touches came in building a cityscape at night and we also threw in the dry ice to create the moody smoky effect!”
Check out the BTS images below on how it all went down!