Lucas Gilman: What's in the bag?

Red Bull Illume’s exploration into the bags of action and adventure sports photographers continue, as we take a look at what Lucas Gilman has stashed away. Turns out, there's a lot.

red bull illume lucas gilman gear full

© Lucas Gilman

Impressive collection you have there! How long has it taken to build it up?

“I’ve been shooting professionally for almost 18 years. My first camera was a Nikon FM2 with a NIKKOR 50mm lens back in the film days and I’ve continued with Nikon through my journey as a photographer and now filmmaker. There’s something about being comfortable with your gear. It becomes an extension of you. When that happens you can really focus on being creative and not on the technology. There’s a camera and lens for every job. I use the Nikon D5, D500, D810 & D4s along with a grocery list of NIKKOR lenses. The Nikon D5 is so fast. It seems like you can never fill the buffer. The only bummer is I come back with like 16,000 images from an afternoon of shooting at 12 frames-per-second.”

What’s your go-to body and lens combo?

“My go-to camera and lens has to be the Nikon D810 and the Nikkor 24-70mm VR f/2.8 lens. I’m always looking to squeeze as much quality out of each frame as possible and the 36+ MP and super fast 24-70mm allows me to do that. If I’m going to take one lens the 24-70mm is it. It’s wide enough to shoot landscapes and at 70mm it’s a great short telephoto. Recently I’ve been using the Nikon D500 more for shooting surfing as it shoots 10 fps and the autofocus points cover almost the entire frame. Plus the D500 is a crop sensor so I get an apparent 1.5 crop from my full-frame lenses. So my 300mm f/2.8 becomes a 450mm f/2.8, which is rad.”

What’s up with the machete?

“I’ve been shooting kayaking for years in some of the deepest darkest jungles in the world. It pays to have a solid machete when bushwhacking your way through snakes, spiders and God knows what.”

Got anything else no one else has?

“A Gerber tactical pen. It could help you out of a sticky situation if you get cornered by a mugger/kidnapper or break a car window if you are trapped inside. I’ve almost been kidnapped by Zapatista’s in Mexico and held up by knifepoint in the past. I also carry a first aid kit decked out like it could be in a war zone. You can never be too prepared.”

Any items you wish you could add to your bag? 

“The kitchen sink! Jokes aside, I travel with a lot of gear. This gear list doesn’t even take into account the video production gear. The last thing I want to have happen is to get to a location and be like, “Man if I only had X, Y and Z.” My dream piece of gear would be a 100+ MP camera with a global shutter that would sync at any flash speed. That would be epic. Oh and it would shoot 6K, 8K, 10K or whatever the video K is on the horizon.”

What keeps you excited and fresh?

“When you shoot professionally it’s easy to get into a creative rut. I like to do things that I don’t get paid for and try out new techniques and technology. Recently I’ve started shooting motion control time lapses with the Kessler Second Shooter Plus and the Elysia Visuals RamperPro. I’ve been working on the Holy Grail: day-to-night and night-to-day time lapses. The RamperPro allows for auto bulb ramping, which is a huge advancement. On the stills side, I’m working on using more battery powered portable strobes in the field like the Profoto B1’s or now the new broncolor Siros L’s to make my images more dynamic and visually impactful. I like to try out new techniques and then implement them into the paid gigs once I’ve got them down.”

Any tips for aspiring photographers?
"Yeah for sure. I do as much research as possible on the location I'm heading to. The important things to me are:

What time is sunrise/sunset and where does the sun rise and set (I use an iPhone app called Sun Surveyor on location for this as well)

Create a daily shoot plan to maximize your shooting and focus on being at the prime locations at the golden hours.

What's the projected weather - You want to be warm and dry and also keep your gear safe. So you can focus on being creative.

Are there any interesting landmarks I should put on my shoot list? Google Earth has millions of images geotagged with different locations use it to your advantage.

Figure out how much memory you’ll need for the project. I shoot with the D810 which is 36+ megapixels so I bring plenty of SanDisk CF & SD cards. Remember, you will probably shoot more than you think and the last thing you want to be doing as the light is getting perfect is deleting images. Also, plan on backing up your images onto multiple drives. The G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC is my go-to in the field because it’s waterproof and shockproof. The reason I backup in the field is you never know when your gear will get nabbed so keeping backup copies geographically separated is key. For instance I’ll have one of the athletes on the expedition hold on to a drive in case my gear is stolen. There is no second chance to make a Red Bull Illume winning image. You’d hate to lose it."

 

The Full Gear List:

Top Left Tile:Nikon D5Nikon D4sNikon D810Nikon D500Nikon 1 AW1 + NIKKOR 10mm f/2.8 AWAF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2 VRAF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8AF-S NIKKOR 800-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VRAF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 VRIIAF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4 PF VRAF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 VRAF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 Micro VRMF NIKKOR 500mm Reflex f/8 (mirror)AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4 VRAF NIKKOR 105mm F/2 DCAF-S NIKKOR 60mm f2.8 Micro AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4AF NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8 FisheyeNikon R1 Wireless Close-Up Speedlight SystemTC-14e III TeleconverterTC-20e III TeleconverterNikon Extension Bellow PB-6eNikon SB5000 SpeedlightsFenix 1000 Lumen FlashlightGiottos Rocket Air BlasterWR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter MINDSHIFT Hive Mini Filter Case x 2Formatt-Hitech 3 Stops Firecrest ND or ProStop IRNDFormatt-Hitech 6 Stops Firecrest ND or ProStop IRNDFormatt-Hitech 10 Stops Firecrest ND or ProStop IRNDFirecrest ND 1.8Formatt-Hitech ND Soft Edge Grad 0.6Formatt-Hitech  ND Reverse Grad 0.6Formatt-Hitech  Aluminum Filter Holder Pelican CF Card WalletPelican SD Card WalletSanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB & 256GB CF CardsSanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB SD CardsHonl Photo Black/White Speed GoboHonl Photo Black/Zebra Speed GoboHonl Photo 1/8 Speed GridEneloop Rechargeable Batteries

Top Right Tile:

Pelican 1535 Air Case + TrekPak inserts
TetherTools USB3 Tether Cable + TetherTools Jerkstopper
TetherTools USB3 TetherBoost
Profoto standard Reflector
Profoto Zoom2 Reflector
Profoto Magnum Reflector
Profoto TeleZoom Reflector
Profoto RFi 1,3x2 Softbox
Leatherman Skeletal CX Multitool
Benchmade Griptilian Drop-point AXIS Knife
Profoto Air Remote
Profoto Air TTL Remote N
Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash x 3
Avenger Turtle Base C-Stand Grip Arm Kit
Quick-Grip 58300 Spring Clamps 

Middle Left Tile:

Fiber Optic Light Painting Brush + Coast HP7 Flashlight
F-Stop Gear Tilopa Backpack
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad
Orca Tactical MOLLE Rip-Away EMT Medical First Aid Kit
FUGOO Tough Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Nikon Aculon 10 x 50 Binoculars
Climbing Harness + Petzl Slings + Petzl Locking Carabiners
Black Diamond ATC
Petzl Climbing Helmet
Gerber Gator Machete
Supernova Halo 180 Extreme Rechargeable LED Lamp
Arc’teryx Theta Gore-Tex Jacket
Persol Di Siena Wayfarer Sunglasses Polarised Lenses
Arc’teryx ACRUX² FL Approach Shoes
Light My Fire Original BPA-Free Tritan Spork
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Sterling Ultraline Water Rescue Rope
Manfrotto Mini Tripod
Snake Bite Kit
Sea To Summit Talus TS I 23 degree Sleeping Bag
Lucas Gilman Productions Custom Team Hat
Nemo OBI LS 2 Person Tent
GOALZERO VENTURE 30 Recharger
GOALZERO NOMAD 20 Solar Panel
Sterling 200FT SuperStatic2 Rope
Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Platypus Softbottle Water Bottle

Middle Right Tile:

Avenger Turtle Base C-Stand Grip Arm Kit
Pelican 1535 Air Case + TrekPak inserts
G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC with Thunderbolt + 1TB SSD
G-Technology  G-DRIVE ev RaW 1TB SSD
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
SPL A-SERIES D810 Waterhousing + Port
Churchill Makapuu Swimfins

Bottom Left Tile: 

Elysia Visuals Ramper Pro v3 Kit
Kessler Crane Stealth Pro Slider
Kessler Crane Second Shooter Plus
Petzl TIKKINA Headlamp
Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly Motor Mount
Kessler Crane DC0 Camera Cable Nikon
Kessler Crane Kwik SHORT Camera Plate
Manfrotto Midi-36 Hybrid LED Panel
ROR Optical Lens Cleaning Solution
Kessler Crane MagPak Battery x 3
Write in the Rain Field Notebook
Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
Nikon Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloth
Kessler Crane DC0 Camera Cable Nikon
Kessler Crane Pocket Jib Traveler
Kessler Crane Kwik Release Receiver x 3
Kessler Crane Kwik MINI Plate
Gitzo Series 2 6X Systematic Tripod
GOALZERO Sherpa 100 Power Pack Battery
Kessler Crane Stealth Crank Handle
Motorola Waterproof Walkabout Radios
Gitzo Series 5 6X TRAVELER MONOPOD
Apple iPad Mini + TetherTools Wallee Mountable Case
Sandisk iXpand 128BG Lightning/USB Flash Drive
Apple 13.3" MacBook Pro Laptop
SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD 480GB 

Bottom Right Tile:

Manfrotto Spectra 1 x 1' Bi-Color LED Light (Flood) x2
Really Right Stuff Fluid Gimbal
Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head
Really Right Stuff Macro Focusing Rail
Avenger Triple Header Bar
Light and Motion Stella Pro Video Light
Gitzo Systematic Ball Head Series 5
Gitzo Series 2 6X Systematic 4S Tripod
Gitzo Series 5 6X Systematic 4S Tripod
Gitzo Series 2 6X Systematic 4S G-L Tripod
Manfrotto NanoPole Light Stand x 3
Manfrotto Super Clamp X 3


For more of Lucas’s work, visit his website, Facebook or Instagram.

While waiting for the unveiling of the winners on September 28, 2016, visit the Red Bull Illume social channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a sneak peek of this edition’s entries. These randomly selected shots showcase just-how impressive the 2016 Red Bull Illume submissions really were.

7 skills every adventure photographer should have

Want to know what it takes to become an adventure and action sports photographer? Here are some of the most important skills that you need to push your passion forwards.

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© Micky Wiswedel / Red Bull Illume

Comfort zone? Never heard of it.

The best photos generally aren’t the ones taken at eye level. To get the perfect shot, you have to be willing to hang off the side of a mountain, sink waist high into the river, or even lie down with your face in the dirt. You’re going to get sweaty, cold, wet, and tired ¬– probably all at once too, but working in those extreme conditions is what makes getting that shot so much more worth it.

Being one with the sun

As most adventure and action sports photography is controlled by natural light, the sun can be your biggest asset or your biggest downfall. You want to get to know the sun, getting in tune with when it rises and sets, how it behaves and affects colors and shadow. This comes from many years of experience, or with a handy little app on your phone.

Plan ahead

One of the obvious ways to make your adventure photography stand out is to look for a unique location. This means a lot of planning, research, and scouting ahead of time. You should know what the weather holds, which equipment to bring, and again what your friend, the sun, is doing. For tips, check out our I Know A Spot series.

Get fit and strong – and dial your admin

If you’re shooting athletes in the outdoors, you need to be able to keep up with them. As a photographer, you’re also likely to be carrying at least 10kg more than them. You also need to be up before they wake, and you’re quite frequently the last to go to bed. It’s a tough gig so you’d better be fit, strong and super organized with your equipment and personal admin.  

Persistence and patience

Things don’t always work out the way you plan and sometimes after hours of working your butt off the image you had in mind just doesn’t happen. That’s ok. It’s part of the process. The trick is to pick yourself up and start again.

Communication

Building a good relationship with your friends and athletes is how you make magic. They need to understand your vision and you should always share what you’re trying to achieve with them. Quite often, the best images in Red Bull Illume are collaborations between an athlete and photographer working together to create gravity-defying imagery.

Positive attitude

Adventure and action sports photography is a whirlwind of the unknown and it’s important to have fun and be able to laugh things off. Equipment will not work, batteries fail, shots will be missed, weather will change, and the sun will disappear behind a cloud the moment you find the perfect composition, but just remember that the greatest part of being an adventure photographer is… the adventure!  

Click here to submit your best shots or start tagging your best photos and videos on Instagram with @redbullillume and #rbi21submission!

To plan or be spontaneous?

Two Red Bull Illume winning photographers reveal the very different methods for nailing their shots. One took weeks of planning. The other involved grabbing a shot in an instant.

Red Bull Illume 2021 Spontaneous 1

© Karim Iliya/ Red Bull Illume

Capturing a great moment can take months of planning. Adventure photographers often spend hours waiting patiently for the light to change or the shadow to hit the perfect length. But great moments can also be captured in an instant, by simply being in the right place at the right time, being open to the possibility, and grabbing the shot with whatever camera you have to hand, whether it’s a DSLR or a phone.

That was the experience for Roberto Zampino who had both DSLR and mobile phone while climbing in a spectacular spot in Sicily known as the Grotta del Cavalla – the horse cave. “It’s a spectacular overhanging wall facing the sea,” he recalls. The photographer had just sent a 7c line and was giving his girlfriend a photography masterclass when he noticed the light begin to change.

“I was trying to teach her about composition and lighting. We climbed until the very end of the cave looking out at the sea. A climber started the same route I had just sent. When he was roughly in the middle of the route the light turned perfect. The red rock lit up with the sunset which lasted for three minutes – three minutes of beauty and harmony.”

However, instead of grabbing the DSLR off his girlfriend and risking an argument, he chose to ‘let the situation flow and keep the peace’. Instead he pulled his mobile and shot this photo that became a Mobile category finalist in 2016.

Other shots require next-level planning and complicated logistics – especially if you’re shooting athletes. Karim Iliya is an underwater photographer, drone pilot and filmmaker based in Maui, Hawaii. For this long exposure of kayakers he had to scout the area. “This photo was one of the more logistically challenging photos I have ever taken, trying to combine two forms of time into one image. One week before I took a similar photo of the river alone but wanted to include kayakers to give some perspective,” he says.

“After showing the photograph to kayaker Adrian Mattern, he pointed to an eddy current, the only feasible place where they could maintain their position so that they would show up in a long exposure.  Without any radios or form of communication, I got into position above the valley and waited. They set off from the top of the river and waited upstream until just after sunset, when the light was balanced. In between rain showers I flew the drone out, signaled to them with the drone to go to the eddy. They held their position as long as they could while I took some photos. While flying back the rain returned and darkness covered the valley.”

Spontaneous or planned, what produces the better shot? Join the conversation on Instagram and enter your images via the submit page here.

Seven reasons why every adventure photographer should enter

Here’s seven great reasons why entering Red Bull Illume could be the best thing you ever do – and how it could change your photography game forever!

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© zooom

1: The prestige

The real prize on offer to winners is priceless – that’s the exposure and prestige associated with being a Red Bull Illume winner, which can be a real career boost. Since 2006, Red Bull Illume has existed to put adventure and action sports photographers on the map – shining the light on the men and women behind the lens. Winning a Red Bull Illume Trophy is one of the highest honors in photography.

2: All of the exposure

Your work will be featured in magazines, blogs, and news stories from top photographic and sports publications. It opens the door to a whole bunch of new opportunities; many previous winners have turned their passions into their careers thanks to Red Bull Illume.

3: Speaking of careers…

Winning a photography award like Red Bull Illume is about more than celebrating your big trophy, it’s about getting your work seen by, not only, a panel of photography and digital experts, but the whole world, really. It just looks really good on your resume.

4: The Global Exhibit Tour

All of the finalists’ imagery will be brought to life in the one-of-a-kind exhibition, which tours the world for a full year. Their breathtaking work will inspire people from all walks of life, even those who think shredding is for paper.

5: You’re in!

Red Bull Illume is a worldwide community of photographers who are passionate about adventure and action sports and everything in-between. You’ll be adding a bunch of new contacts into your phone, many who will become lifelong friends.

6: A life-changing experience

As if reasons one to five weren’t enough, you should enter Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 because it could change your life. Of course, you’ll never know unless you enter!

7: And what about those prizes?

Apart from the prestigious trophy? The total value of prizes on offer is €200,000. They include a Lenovo computer, a SanDisk Professional workflow bundle and a paid photoshoot with Black Diamond. The outdoor apparel brand is also offering a $5,000 worth of Black Diamond products for the Best Mountain image. In addition, the German camera manufacturer Leica has confirmed they will offer a Q2 camera for every category winner and a Leica SL2 camera for the Overall Winner.

Click here to submit your best shots or start tagging your best photos and videos on Instagram with @redbullillume and #rbi21submission!

SanDisk Professional™ to be awarded to winners

SanDisk today unveils revolutionary new SanDisk Professional brand — products are to be given away as prizes in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021.

Red Bull Illume 2021 SanDisk Professional 1

There’s now another reason to enter Red Bull Illume, the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery contest. SanDisk has announced that winners of the contest will receive a workflow bundle from the new SanDisk Professional range, a brand of premium storage solutions for content creators and professionals, which launched today.

It includes high performance cards, card readers, docks, ultra-rugged portable drives, desktop drives and transportable RAID Drives. They’re high end, ultra-reliable, high performance and high-capacity tools that empower professionals to create the incredible.

We’re honored to have the iconic brand, which is renowned by photographers all over the world, on board for this years’ contest. They have revolutionized the way photographers work, giving them the freedom to shoot unlimited high-quality imagery without fear. For the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 they will sponsor the Masterpiece by SanDisk category. In addition, SanDisk is giving out prizes valued at over €30,000! The Overall Winner and Category Winners will each take home a SanDisk Professional Workflow Bundle, meaning endless space for even more award-winning creativity.

“As a professional photographer and filmmaker, my livelihood depends on how I get the job done. There is no room for error. I need the most advanced, reliable and trusted equipment out in the field,” says Lucas Gilman, a previous Red Bull Illume winner. “For years I’ve relied on SanDisk and G-Technology solutions because they enable me to focus on the moment with confidence that my creativity won’t be interrupted, and without concern about whether or not they can keep up with my technical needs.”

Thinking about entering? There’s a category for all types of adventure and action sports imagery from Emerging talent (under 25) to Lifestyle and Creative. There’s still time for anyone to enter. Submissions are open until July 31, 2021 and can be entered here and on Instagram while tagging @redbullillume and #rbi21submission!

Boost your chance of winning an award with EyeEm

Photographers can also enter Red Bull Illume via the EyeEm Awards 2021 to increase chances of being selected, as we partner up to showcase incredible photographic talent.

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Running at the same time as this year’s Red Bull Illume Image Quest are the EyeEm Awards 2021, a photo contest with six categories covering portraiture, story-telling, architecture, minimalism and environmentalism – and the great outdoors. Submissions are open until June 25th.

Anyone who submits an image to their Great Outdoors category is automatically entered into the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021. We will select the best adventure and action sports image from the category with the winner becoming a Red Bull Illume finalist and being invited to the Winner Award Ceremony. 

Among the judges for the EyeEm Awards is Red Bull Illume’s founder Ulrich Grill. He says it’s great to be partnering again with the platform, a global marketplace for premium stock photography and professional photo and video productions. “I’m super excited to be a judge in this year’s EyeEm Awards. This is a great partnership between Red Bull Illume and EyeEm, which helps to ensure photographers working in the outdoors, in adventure and action sports, gain the widest possible recognition for truly incredible and inspiring work.”

“It’s all about celebrating great photography,” he adds. “Red Bull Illume shines the light on the photographers and the incredible lengths they go to get the shot. EyeEm are known for their love of photography and the awards help to celebrate other genres of the artform. I look forward to seeing this year’s entries and selecting the best adventure and action sports image in the Great Outdoors category which will also go through to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021.” 

Increase your chances of becoming a finalist by entering your images into the Great Outdoors by Red Bull Illume category in the EyeEm Awards 2021. For more details, click here.

Black Diamond sponsors emerging adventure photographers

Global leader in outdoor apparel offers paid photoshoot for the winner of the Emerging by Black Diamond category.

Red Bull Illume 2021 Black Diamond 1

© Justin Coomber / Red Bull Illume

Red Bull Illume is all about celebrating the culture and lifestyle of adventure and action sports photographers who go to such lengths to get the shot. For Black Diamond, it’s all about climbing and skiing, and making the best gear possible. Sooner or later, our paths were bound to cross.

For the sixth edition of Red Bull Illume, we’re excited to reveal that Black Diamond is an official partner, sponsoring the Emerging category. This is the category for rising talents up to the age of 25. For the photographer who wins the category, the prize is a paid photoshoot with the equipment and apparel manufacturer. The brand is also rewarding a prize for the Best Mountain Image – which will be a generous product deal worth up to $5,000. Black Diamond will also donate prizes for the category winners, finalists and semi-finalists, including 90L Stonehauler Duffle Bags, headlamps and discount vouchers.

“Partnering with Red Bull Illume is a natural fit in terms of the sports we serve, our products and brand history, which is dedicated to stunning mountain imagery and content,” say Black Diamond. “In addition to celebrating the world’s most captivating imagery, the Image Quest uncovers the passion behind the lens of the photographers that shoot them.”

Red Bull Illume’s founder Ulrich Grill says it’s great news for adventure and action sports photographers, especially younger ones. “I’m super excited to welcome Black Diamond to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021,” he says. “We’re now in our 15th year and it’s great we have this opportunity to focus on the next generation of talent. With Black Diamond on board, it’s also a huge incentive for photographers to enter.”

With just over two months until submissions close, that leaves plenty of time to head to the mountains, and capture those unique moments.

For your chance to get your hands on this exclusive Black Diamond gear, enter your best images now!

Why every action sports photographer should enter Red Bull Illume

Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist Nicolás Pina explains why shooting ice and surf feels like a dream, and why the adventure and action sports imagery contest is such a great opportunity.

Red Bull Illume 2019 Nicolas Pina 1

© Nicolas Pina / Red Bull Illume

Why should photographers enter Red Bull Illume?
I think every adventure sports photographer should take the time to submit their work. It’s such a great opportunity, and you never know what could happen!

Any advice?
Just look for a good location nearby and think of what sport would fit that location. Then find an athlete and start shooting!

What are you entering?
I have a couple of images that I’m very proud of, unfortunately, due to the restrictions this year I haven’t been able to travel as much, and I had to set aside a couple of sick projects until we go back to normal. Those are coming for the next one!

What makes an image good enough?
It’s a matter of many different factors. Things like composition, light, colors, action and location are important, but for me it’s more about the overall feeling I get from the image and if it’s inspiring.

What came first for you, surfing or photography?
Photography. Since I was a kid I’ve always been interested in surfing as a sport but never had the chance to try it. Time passed, and once I started photography, I found surfing very visually attractive and I really enjoyed shooting it. Not long after that I finally started surfing myself and nowadays those two are my main passions.

How did you get into photography?
When I was younger I was really into filmmaking and video editing, somehow I thought photography wasn't as interesting. I bought my first camera with the intention of just shooting video, but slowly and through a photographer friend of mine I started shooting stills around the city and in no time I was hooked with photography!

What’s been your most rad shoot?
With no doubt the time I shot ice climbing under the Northern Lights. It was freezing cold (-25°C), I waited, hanging from the ice wall for hours and when the show started I thought it was a dream. I will never forget that.

What comes first, location or idea?
It’s both actually. Sometimes an idea comes to my mind and I spend hours researching and looking for a location that fits that idea, and other times it’s the location that inspires me and makes me imagine what would be the craziest shot I can get there.

The hardest thing about surfing photography?
Not being in control of what’s going to happen. When shooting surfing you not only depend on your photography skills but also on the swell conditions, the wind, tides, currents and athlete. There are many different factors to take in consideration, but that’s the beauty of it. When everything aligns and you get the shot it’s one of the best feelings ever.

What’s the number 1 equipment you always take with you?
Food! And a wide-angle lens.

You can find more of Nicolas’s work on his website and @nicopinacalvin.

 

See yourself as a Red Bull Illume photographer? Enter your best adventure and action sports images over here. As Nicolás says, you never know…

7 tips for a winning adventure photo

There’s still time to plan, shoot and nail the perfect shot for this year’s Red Bull Illume. Grab your gear, get shooting – and submit your work to the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery contest.

Red Bull Illume 2021 7 tips for a winning image 1

© Laurence Crossman-Emms / Red Bull Illume

Look for new angles
Don’t let your height determine your angle. Watch any photographer at work and they’re crawling on the floor, climbing ladders and trees, contorting themselves into crazy positions. Think of Laurence Crossman-Emms’ category-winning ground-level shot of a mountain biker parting a puddle of water. Or some of the overhead shots of Lorenz Holder or overall winner Ben Thouard’s shot of a surfer shot from underneath the wave. They all called for a unique angle.

Plan but also be spontaneous
Some Red Bull Illume winners are the result of months of dedicated planning, bringing numerous complicated elements together – the perfect stunt, the perfect light, the perfect angle. Yet sometimes it’s the spontaneous shots that do well. In the 2016 Red Bull Illume Quest, photographer Reuben Krabbe had a couple of images entered. One was his shot of a skier framed by an eclipse in Svarbard. It was the result of months of planning and a huge logistical feat to pull off. The other was a cellphone shot he grabbed in a moment while boot-packing up a slope. It was the cellphone shot that became a category finalist.

Red Bull Illume could be your dream career break. Enter here.

Work with your athlete friends
Time and time again we hear from previous winners that their work is the result of a collaboration with athletes. Think of them as equal partners in the creative process. Share your vision, get them on-side and work together to create magic.

It’s ALWAYS about the light
It’s something that all great photographers are obsessed about – the light. What’s it’s doing and when. Quite often photographers are as in tune with sunrise and sunset times and positions as a 19th century sailboat captain. It’s all about the contrast, sometimes subtle, sometimes bold – explore the gallery page and see what we mean.

Research your location
Finding the perfect spot for your winning shot can be the result of months of research, poring over maps, Google Earth and other apps. But equally, it can be the result of wandering around your hood with a camera slung over your shoulder and your eyes open to possibilities. That’s what Kevin Molano did. He strolled around Bogata with the b-boy Dawinson Murillo and got him to perform in front of the San Francisco church. The result was a category finalist. For more tips on finding the perfect spot, check out our series here.

Focus on your fitness
If you’re shooting in extreme locations, it goes without saying that you need to be able to look after yourself. That means working on your outdoor skills – and fitness. As a photographer, you’re probably carrying 10kg more than anyone else and you need to be able to run around, grabbing shots, without slowing anyone else down. That means you need to be fitter than everyone else to keep up. When Red Bull Illume Kelvin Trautman covered the Red Bull X-Alps, he hiked almost as much distance and vertical altitude as the athletes themselves.

Shoot when you don’t want to
Sometimes you just don’t want to get your camera out. It might be cold, it might be raining, it might be hard going or even insensitive – but these are also the times when you capture authentic moments of emotion; like Tal Roberts’s shot of pro skier Karl Fostvedt getting stitched up or Hamish Frost’s shots of climbers in Scotland, which required pre-dawn starts, cold hands and much suffering. No pain no gain, is also true for photography.

The submission phase is open until July 31, 2021. More details on how to enter can be found here.

Adventure and Action photography tips from Noah Wetzel

2019 category winner Noah Wetzel shares his plans and top tips for a winning image and why Red Bull Illume gave him an amazing platform.

Red Bull Illume 2019 Noah Wetzel 1

© Noah Wetzel / Red Bull Illume

Your plans for Red Bull Illume this year?

I haven’t yet completed my submission for 2021, however I’m excited to go through some new imagery that I’ve captured the past two years! I’m also planning a trip to the Pacific northwest in pursuit of a crazy image I’ve had stuck in my head for a few years now, and the submission deadline is the perfect motivation.

What tips do you have for a winning image?

Surround yourself with passionate and hard-working individuals. Most importantly, just have fun, that’s why we’re all creating, right? Finally, have persistence, laugh at the negative circumstances, and keep stepping up to the plate with a positive attitude.

Tell us more!

Incredible moments are constantly occurring around the world, sometimes in the most obscure and unpredictable locations. Capturing something special comes down to putting yourself in the right position. As a photographer, there are times when I happen to be in the right spot at the right time, and there are also instances where I have a very specific vision of what I want to create. Regardless, those incredible moments are fleeting and very difficult to capture. With experience it’s easier to recognize opportunity, however regardless of skill level you still have to capitalize on the opportunity. With that said, it’s important to pursue YOUR vision, not allowing outside opinion and or common methods to dictate YOUR imagery outcome.

What impact did Red Bull Illume have on your career?

Red Bull Illume has provided me with an amazing platform to showcase my imagery and also gather inspiration from around the world. Simply put, Red Bull Illume has given me an opportunity to connect with a larger audience of adventure seeking individuals, talented photographers and cinematographers to help inspire future imagery, and industry professionals to collaborate with on future projects.

What’s the best part about being an action and outdoor photographer?

My favorite aspect of my career is interacting with talented, creative, passionate, and hard-working individuals, while sharing special experiences with them in memorable places. It’s truly amazing how interconnected the outdoor community is, and each individual within has such a unique skill set of tools and experiences, which creates an endless resource to tap into and learn from. I love watching those relationships develop and grow overtime, linking up with an athlete or a client for shooting purposes, and overtime they become your friends and family.

How and when did photography first come into your life?

At 12 years old, I saved money from mowing lawns, cleaning vehicles, and my birthdays to purchase a Pentax ZX-M film camera. I don’t remember a specific reason for purchasing the camera, however my older brother Sam purchased one at the same time which was a huge motivator. Looking back at my childhood, I recently realized that my Grandpa loved photography, and after he passed, my Dad acquired his camera…therefore it was always around while growing up, my Dad often shooting us playing sports.
 
When did you know that photography was going to be your career?

For many years leading up to self-employment, I questioned my path often. I almost went in a different direction many times. After years of staying productive, trying new things, working hard and having fun, I began to pick up more and more photography jobs and publication. With that said, in the summer of 2015 (a year before I went self-employed), I vividly remember shooting mountain-biking one evening and capturing some incredible images. That evening I immediately knew where to focus my energy for the future. I was a photographer.

If you look back now, what are some stand out memories in your career?

The images themselves stand out as the most important accomplishments. But my first published full page in 2008, and my first cover in 2015 will always carry weight. Finally, most importantly, the Red Bull Illume RAW Category win in 2019.  

Inspired to enter? Submit your images here!

You can find more of Noah’s work on his website and on Instagram @noahwetzel and Facebook  @NoahWetzelPhoto.

Run for those who can't at the Wings for Life World Run 2021

Enter to raise funds for spinal research on May 9, 2021.

Participants perform during the Wings for Life World Run in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 6, 2018. // Marcelo Maragni for Wings for Life World Run // SI201805060826 // Usage for editorial use only //

© Marcelo Maragni

On May 09, 2021, the Wings for Life World Run will see more than 120,000 people from all over the globe running to raise funds for spinal cord injury research. To inspire you to take part, we’re sharing some of the best images of the Wings for Life World Run taken by Red Bull Illume photographers, Dean Treml, Denis Klero, Marcel Maragni, Mirja Geh, Predrag Vuckovic and Samo Vidic.

Everybody can be a part of the Wings for Life World Run, and this year’s race will be another colorful mix, with the field including everyone from novice runners to ultra distance specialists. The unique race format makes it possible for runners and wheelchair users with completely different levels of training, fitness and goals to take to the course together with elite distance runners.

Participants from all around the world start at exactly the same time at 11 am UTC. Then, 30 minutes after the start, the virtual Catcher Car, a rolling finish line, starts moving and will gradually pick up speed as it catches and then passes participants one at time until the winners are determined. The name of the game is to stay ahead of the car for as long as possible.

During the virtual run, which for the top runners could last up to four and a half hours, participants will be kept informed, motivated and entertained by the so-called Audio Experience. Well-known personalities from the world of sports and entertainment have lent their voices to the latest feature of the Wings for Life World Run App and will help push the participants forward by serving as drivers of the virtual Catcher Cars or designated motivators during the race. Enjoy and see you on the start line.

Registration is open until one hour before the official start time of 11:00am UTC, on May 09, 2021. For more information go to wingsforlifeworldrun.com.