Nice Moves on the Dachstein
As any action sport photographer knows, shooting in sometimes crazy locations is all part of the job. But what happens when it's a fashion shoot on a mountain edge and the athlete is a model in high heels?
Helge Kirchberger, who's worked with the Flying Bulls and at Hangar 7, tells us about his recent shoot on the Dachstein glacier using the broncolor Move Powerpack.
What was the idea behind the shoot?
During a job in the Dachstein ice cave (near Salzburg, Austria) I discovered a great location up there. I desperately wanted to do a shoot on this rock.
Looks like an extreme location
We were on a sloping rocky plateau just a few meters square and beyond that it was a sheer drop of a few hundred meters. The rock was also wet and loose so we had to move carefully!
How did the model enjoy that?
Our model Carina was amazing. She had to wear high-heels while we were all equipped with proper hiking boots. We had told her in advance that the location would be extraordinary and that she should definitely not be scared of heights. She did really well!
What was the idea with the birds?
During the first shoot on the Dachstein, the model had a phobia of birds and was really stressed out. That’s when I had the idea to include alpine choughs in our fashion shoot, like in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”. To get the birds to come closer we fed them bread in the beginning. Within no time, more and more birds arrived. Those birds have become used to climbers and aren’t too shy anymore.
What equipment did you use?
In the studio, we worked with Broncolor Scoro A4 and A2 as well as grafit generators — a perfect setup in terms of performance and handling. In addition, we used two Broncolor Verso with rechargeable batteries and Broncolor Pulso G flash heads and a number of different lights.
Canon EOS 5 Mark III with EF 70-200, EF 24-70 and EF 16-35mm.
How does The Move make life easier?
The performance quality really makes the Move Powerpack stand out. It's low weight, full power and adjustability make it an essential tool for outdoor photoshoots. It’s particularly useful when you shoot on locations where electricity is unavailable but you still want to work with artificial light. With the move, you can perfectly implement all those possibilities. It’s reliable and convinces with sophisticated handling and excellent processing.
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Adventure photography in South Africa’s Drakensberg
Photographer Kelvin Trautman recently covered athletes Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s record-breaking run in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range, notorious for its tough terrain and changeable weather. We asked Kelvin a few questions about covering the Drakensberg Grand Traverse:
How tough was it to set everything up?
It took three months of route recce’s, team meetings, hours poring over maps, back and forth with permit offices, to collate a 45 page production booklet that mapped out, in theory, how we (the film crew and myself) were to cover the event. I say ‘theory’ because as with any shoot in the mountains, mother nature often throws a seemingly faultless shoot plan out the window within a couple hours of starting.
How did you keep up with the athletes?
By helicopter and on foot. When on the ground I ran with Ryan and Ryno anywhere between 2 and 25km at a time (night and day). The remoteness of the area meant getting images out to the world posed a problem so we planned two helicopter ferries back to our mobile base camp during the attempt so that I could quickly download, tag and upload images for media.
What kind of shots were you after?
When in the air I looked to shoot images that put into perspective the remote, raw landscape. The time spent in close quarters with the athletes gave me a chance to shoot the more emotive, detailed images – I planned on shooting most of these images towards the end where Ryan and Ryno’s mental and physical exhaustion had no filter!
What difficulties did you face?
Since the Drakensberg mountain range is incredibly inaccessible, everyone had to be mountain savvy and vigilant about safety at all times. To be safe, we set aside a weather window of 10 days as to reduce the chances of running into any major weather nuances during the record attempt.
Finding the athletes was a major hassle as Ryan and Ryno could course their way along the escarpment wherever it suited. To avoid flying around aimlessly, the mobile base camp sent us GPS co-ords of the runners’ position every 20 minutes.
How did you gear up?
I divvied my gear into two bags. A helicopter bag and a running bag. The heli bag obviously contained a much wider array of gear when compared to the much lighter, slimmed down running pack.
The helicopter bag included the following:
Lowerpro Rover Pro 45L backpack
Nikon D4, D800 camera bodies
Nikon 400mm, 70-20mm, 105mm macro, 24-70mm, 50mm, 14-24mm, 16mm fisheye lenses
A Manfrotto monopod
Two spare camera batteries per body
Four 32G x800 Lexar CF and four Lexar 32G SD memory cards
A couple Hoya filters, namely a 77mm ND4, and variable density
A MicroPro LED LITEPANEL
The running bag included the following:
Lowerpro Rover Pro 35L backpack
Nikon D610 camera body
Nikon 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 14-24mm
A couple spare camera batteries
A Nikon SB-900 Speedlight plus a Pocket Wizard mini TT1 and Flex TT5 transmitter and transceiver
Two 32G x800 Lexar CF and two Lexar 32G SD memory cards
Be sure to check out Kelvin’s website or follow him on Twitter.
Chris Burkard's quest for the cover
How does a photographer go about nailing the perfect cover? Red Bull Illume chats to Chris Burkard and discovers the journey behind the epic shot for his latest Surfer Mag cover (in the gallery):
Where were you?
On the Aleutian Islands in Alaska along with surfers Peter Devries, Josh Mulcoy, Alex Gray and videographer Ben Weiland in search of empty undiscovered waves. This region is one of the harshest in the world and made up of a chain of 14 volcanic islands.
That’s pretty stormy stuff…
The weather is unpredictable and storms brew quickly. No matter how many scenarios I played in my head beforehand, the waves we got were beyond my imagination and the rawness of the coastline was unlike anywhere in the world!
How did you get around?
We had to take a series of puddle jumper flights, often sharing plane space with supplies for the small villages we would be flying into. We were equipped with a set of ATVs and used these as our sole mode of transportation while on the island!
Tell us about how you found this location…
Each day we rode miles and miles to remote beaches searching for setups where there would be potential for surf. We initially found this setup on Google Earth but didn't see its full potential until we arrived on ATVs. Once we found this location we instantly knew it had potential for the cover shot because it had one of the most dynamic backgrounds.
The conditions look perfect…
It was a testament to our persistence of getting up early and getting on it because the weather shifts so easily out there. So it only happened because we were on it early! The beach was a rare sight as the clouds broke and a volcano that hadn’t been visible due to cloud cover the days prior was crystal clear. And then Josh Mulcoy carved a turn in the frozen water for the perfect moment…
So there you have it… Sometimes you literally need to go to the ends of the earth for the perfect cover. Be sure to look out for ‘The Cradle of Storms’ – a 25-minute film that covers this trip is coming up on surfermag.com.
Exploring Jaanus Ree’s Mind-Bending Shoot
Red Bull Illume photographer Jaanus Ree enjoys taking brain-teasing images. If you closely examine his Top 50 New Creativity shot of athlete Gard Hvaara (in the gallery), you will discover that the shot is not taken from directly above – instead the athlete is riding a wall at a 90-degree angle.
Ree has now produced another mind-bending shot:
“I wanted to create a photo where the viewer has to think where the photographer is and how the rider is able to do something in an impossible place. So I created a room where all the stuff that is usually on the floor would be attached on the wall and vice versa.”
Good preparation ensured everything went smoothly:
“We ran a test shoot that night before – as we didn’t want to ruin the set, the assistants helped by running bare footed and jumping over the bookshelf to get the best light. The final photo came out even better than I imagined thanks to Simon Stricker whose performance was out of the box for those hard conditions – there was minimal room for riding!”
Want more? Be sure to head over to Jaanus' website & follow him on Facebook.
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.
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!