Winter climbing in Scotland – with Frost!

Hamish Frost takes us to a place where the best weather to shoot in is - bad weather. Winter climbing in Scotland is a total sensory experience, a place that offers immense history but also the opportunity to send new routes in challenging conditions. What’s it like to shoot there? We asked Hamish!

© Hamish Frost / Red Bull Illume

Hamish Frost credits the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 as having a huge influence on his decision to take photography more seriously. Three years on, his shot of Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell trying a new winter route on Bidean nam Bian, Scotland, was voted as June winner of the Best of Instagram by SanDisk Category, securing his place as a finalist of the Image Quest 2019.

We knew a little bit about winter climbing in Scotland, and we had heard it was special, but we thought who better to take us deeper into the subject than Hamish himself! So, check out our interview below, with introductory quotes from Hamish and Greg.

-

Hamish Frost:

“There’s something about the ephemeral nature of the winter conditions in Scotland which makes it all quite exciting. Our winters are often quite marginal, with temperatures generally hovering just above or just below freezing. The freeze-thaw cycles that we get can result in some brilliant mixed climbing conditions, but it can be a bit of a hit and miss game trying to work out where the best conditions are.

“You’ll spend most of the winter pouring over weather forecasts in different parts of the Highlands, trying to work out a picture of what’s going on and building your climbing plans around that. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you can get it spectacularly wrong!

“I think this ultimately makes it all the more rewarding when you do get a good day though, particularly if you’ve gambled slightly and gone somewhere a bit more out there, that others might not have considered.”

Greg Boswell:

“If you’re looking for adventure and a challenge, Scotland is the place to be during the winter months, especially in regards to the climbing. You have to battle the fickle conditions, the long approaches and when you eventually get to the route and find it in condition, they are usually hard won and take a long time to unveil the secrets needed to ascend.

“I suppose there is a lot of uncertainty and challenge involved in Scottish winter climbing, but with the amazing landscapes and abundance of world class cliffs, the rewards are made so much sweeter and are usually well worth the effort.”

-

What makes winter ascents in Scotland attractive for a photographer?

Although our mountains aren’t the biggest, they more than make up for it in character! The scenery we have is stunning, with remote, rolling glens and big, gnarly cliff faces. There’s also an attitude in Scottish winter climbing that you go out even on the bad weather days (otherwise you probably wouldn’t get much done!).

I’ve actually taken some of my favorite winter climbing photos on days where the weather hasn’t been amazing. All the wind and snow blowing around can add a lot of drama to a photo and make it look like quite an unpleasant place to be, which I guess it is, but it’s that type two fun which anyone who does stuff in the mountains can probably relate to.

Where does your personal motivation for extreme undertakings like these come from?

Initially I started taking photos in the mountains to try show off how good the mountains were in Scotland and hopefully inspire friends and others to get out and explore them. It was only around 5 or 6 years ago that I actually made the effort to get out of the city and started to explore the Scottish Highlands myself and my mind was blown by how good the local hills were. I wanted to try and encourage others to get out and have the same sort of experiences I was having. My way of doing that was to take photos of my days out and post them online, and it worked!

As I’ve started climbing and skiing more, I’d say my motivations have evolved slightly. It’s now the buzz you get from challenging yourself, pushing your limits and scaring yourself a little in mountainous environments. My favorite shoots to do nowadays are the ones where I get to actually ski or climb some objective whilst trying to take decent photos. I love the challenge of trying to be creative whilst you’re dealing with a whole load of other factors, like staying warm and dry, making sound mountain decisions and trying to get yourself up a route.

How does the snow, ice and sheer coldness affect your photography?

My Sony cameras are pretty hardy and will keep firing even when it gets really cold and wet. There are simple tricks that help like keeping spare batteries in pockets close to your body so they keep warm, having a drybag to hand in case it gets really wet and you want to keep your camera out of the worst of it, and also bringing a spare compact camera on a shoot (if you can afford the weight), in case something does happen!

How heavy is the photography gear you’re carrying up the mountain?

I try and keep the kit I’m using relatively light. I’m already carrying a load of climbing kit and extra clothing to keep warm and if you weigh yourself down with lots of kit during the walk-in then you won’t have much energy to run around taking photos.

I tend to use one full frame Sony mirrorless body with a wide-angle zoom lens on it (I reckon I use this lens for about 80-90% of my shots) and then maybe a Sony APS-C mirrorless body with a telephoto lens as well if I reckon I can afford the weight. This gives me a bit of redundancy and avoids having to change lenses if the weather’s bad (which is a quick route to getting a tonne of snow in your camera).

Do you have to be a decent (mixed) climber yourself to shoot in these conditions or do you consider abseiling from the top?

It certainly helps, as it opens up options to shoot bigger routes where you can climb as two pairs and photograph the second pair on the route as they climb behind you. Most of the time I’ll just work independently though and either photograph the climb from a distance with a long lens, or set up a static rope at the top of the cliff and rappel into a position to shoot from. If you’re doing this then it definitely pays to be good with the cold!

Bad or even no views due to weather puts more focus on the climber and the wall right in front of you. What are the challenges and techniques to overcome this and get good shots?

For sure, the bad weather days can make it a bit more challenging and you have to be a bit more creative about getting a shot. If the visibility is bad, then you need to think about getting close to the action, otherwise your photos aren’t gonna have much in them! Sometimes you just need to have a little patience too. Even on the total white-out days, you will get patches where the visibility improves, and you might be able to get something from further away, you just need to be very aware of what’s going on, even checking updated forecasts out on the hill, and then reacting quickly when the weather does change.

I would say that some of the most challenging weather conditions to work in are actually the sunny days. This is because the routes being climbed are often on north faces, which don’t catch much sun during the winter. As such you can end up with your subject climbing in the shade against a brightly lit up background, which is a hard shot to edit well as it’s got far too much contrast in it. My favorite days are the slightly overcast days, where the clouds almost act like a giant softbox and you get this really nice soft, diffused light coming through.

Check out more of Hamish on Instagram!

Read the latest stories

Red Bull Illume Limited Edition Photobook 2019

Adventure and actions sports may be on hold for a little while but that just means it’s the perfect time to gather inspiration for your next sesh! The Red Bull Illume Photobook 2019 is the perfect way to spend your time at home, looking at 260 of the best adventure and action sports images from the Image Quest 2019.

 

Every image in the Photobook has been selected from a record-breaking 59,551 submitted by thousands of photographers from all over the world. It’s our mission to give honor the hard work and dedication of the artists who pour their passion into creating the world’s best adventure and action sports imagery by giving them the credit that they deserve. It’s the reason these limited edition photobooks are individually numbered and stamped – with only 4,000 available!

If that isn’t enough, every Photobook includes a SanDisk Ultra SD Memory Card (16GB) with the Moving Image Category Videos and a full version of Luminar Photo 4 Editor. That means you or your loved one don’t have to wait for the next adventure to start getting creative. It’s the perfect gift for every adventure and action sports lover.

There are also a handful of Photobooks from previous editions that have been uncovered and are now on sale for a limited time. Perhaps you weren’t able to get one last time, or you’re just looking to experience the full collection? Head on over to COOPH Store and check out all the available bundles up for grabs!

Be sure to get your hands on a limited edition Red Bull Illume Photobook today!
 

Podcast Series 4/4 - Overall Winner Ben Thouard

In this series by the Pitched Industries Podcast Red Bull Illume category winners including the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019 give us their unfiltered insights into how they were able to capture their winning images, what inspires them, why they do what they are doing and what winning the Red Bull Illume Image Quest has done (and might be doing) for their careers. Stay tuned for the fourth and last episode next Tuesday!

© Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume

© Ben Thouard :

This week Red Bull Illume Image Ques 2019 overall winner (and winner of the Energy category) Ben Thouard talks about his journey towards a spending more time under water than above and what taking away the grand prize meant for him personally.

Listen to the Podcast below or head over to Pitched Industries

If you haven't yet done so - make sure to check out the previous episodes:

Episode 1 with Innovation by Sony category winner Laurence Crossman-Emms 

Episode 2 with RAW category winner Noah Wetzel

Episode 3 with two times category winner and former overall winner Lorenz Holder
 

More work by Ben Thouard at benthouard.com or on his Instagram @benthouard.

Podcast Series 3/4 - Two times category winner Lorenz Holder

In this series by the Pitched Industries Podcast Red Bull Illume category winners including the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019 give us their unfiltered insights into how they were able to capture their winning images, what inspires them, why they do what they are doing and what winning the Red Bull Illume Image Quest has done (and might be doing) for their careers. Stay tuned for the fourth and last episode next Tuesday!

This week Playground and Masterpiece by EyeEm category winner and two-times overall winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest Lorenz Holder talks about his winning formula and what inspires him to create masterpieces day in day out.

Listen to the podcast BELOW or head over to Pitched Industries​​​​​​​!

If you haven't yet done so, make sure to check out Episode 1 with Innovation by Sony category winner Laurence Crossman-Emms and Episode 2 with RAW category winner Noah Wetzel!


More work by Lorenz Holder at lorenzholder.com or on his Instagram @lorenzholder.

Dive in! Underwater Photography with Kohei Ueno

Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist Kohei Ueno doesn't like shooting underwater - he lives for it! His black and white image of freedivers at the Freediving Championships in Indonesia is astonishing and daunting at the same time. We wanted to know what it's like to shoot 100m beneath the surface with no air, no light but a lot of water.

Why have you chosen to submit your image to the Image Quest 2019?

I was so impressed and inspired by the submissions of the Red Bull Image Quest competitions in the past that I knew I wanted to be a part of it someday. This is by far the greatest adventure sports photography competition in the world, where photographers capture the spirit of adventure and exploration, where minds and bodies are pushed to the very edge of human limits. To me the sport of freediving fits right into this world, not only as a sport but also as a lifestyle, so I am extremely glad to be selected amongst the very best and represented in this category [Lifestyle].

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with Red Bull Illume 2019?

The Red Bull Illume 2019 Winner Award Ceremony on top of the Kronplatz Mountain at 7000ft was out of this world, capturing the essence of Red Bull's spirit in style. It was one of the most spectacular photography competition that I've ever been a part of with so many amazing talents and like-minded individuals from across the globe, who all shared the same love and passion for photography and creating stunning images of their sports.

 

"I experienced a very powerful moment, something so good that I had never felt before."

 

Your image made it to the final stage, congrats! How did the shot came about?

This shot is an image of a freediver coming up from a competition dive at the AAS Freediving Depth Championships. A rather intense moment where the athlete is awakened from the dark, quiet, lonely depth of space, to the bright, loud, and hectic environment of the surface above. To me, what makes this image even more special is that I've watched this athlete grow over the years, overcoming her own fears one step at a time, from when she could barely dive to a few meters down, to now where she's diving to depth of over 50 meters on one breath of air.

What’s the story behind your love for free diving?

My relationship with the ocean started at 13 years old when I got my first open water scuba certificate, but it was not until the age of 30 when I discovered freediving that transformed the way I saw the ocean. I realised that there was a lot more to freediving than just holding your breath, or the thrill of adrenaline, or to show off or anything like that. When I completed my 16m depth requirement during my first freedive course, I experienced a very powerful moment, something so good that I had never felt before. I was immediately hooked to this new sensation, and I knew right away that this is a sport that I would continue for the rest of my life.

What came first for you: free diving or photography?

I picked up my first 'non-point and shoot' camera when I quit my job at Google to travel the world, self learning on the go with just a basic understanding of aperture, shutter speed and iso. A year later after returning home, I won a grand prize at a major photography competition, and that was when photography became a little more than just a hobby. That same year, I discovered freediving and fell in love with it straight away. Naturally, I took the camera underwater and that's how it all began. So in a way photography came first, but freediving is what got me interested in underwater photography, and I am happy to have found a way to combine the two together.

What fascinates you about underwater photography?

What I find fascinating about shooting underwater on a breath hold is that it has the ability to reset my mind to really focus on the present, washing away everything and anything that goes on above the surface. Everything works differently underwater than it does on land, both physically for our bodies and technically inside the camera, and I find it very interesting to balance these two together. We know so little about the ocean, like we know so little about freediving, and while we can spend all day studying about it from the surface, admiring the weird creatures and science within it, it's quite hard to grasp the true wonders of it all until you dive down and experience it yourself. I hope my images will inspire more people to take that plunge to look closer into our oceans and into ourselves.

 

"... all while holding your breath and worrying about your own safety as you go deeper and deeper."

 

One of the biggest challenges when shooting underwater?

When you’re dealing with shooting freedivers who are diving at speeds of one metre a second, things can get really complicated. Not only do you have to adapt to the loss of light at different depths, but also the change in pressure while diving head down with a camera in your hand. Trying to keep steady while fighting against things like current, waves, thermocline and varying visibility, all while holding your breath and worrying about your own safety as you go deeper and deeper. All of this happens at the same time, and that is the most difficult thing about freedive photography.

What do you always have with you equipment-wise?

You absolutely need a good set of underwater housing, and a good pair of fins! To me Nauticam housing is the ultimate when it comes to housing my Sony gears and Molchanovs short fins does wonders for freedive photogaphers like myself. As I shoot mostly wide, my choice of lens is usually the 16-35mm fisheye and a decently sized dome port for above under shots. Also, as I'm near the ocean a lot, one thing I find essential is having a good backup solution. Personally I use a QNAP NAS to backup my files over the network and this really helps with my workflow and a peace of mind knowing that my data is safe even when I'm overseas. I also like to bring a solar panel charger to take advantage of the sun whenever possible as well as Litra lights for occasional night shoots.

Where can we find more of your work?

You can find my work at www.koheiueno.com and Instagram @kuenok. I am also working on some collaborations with art galleries in Singapore and Australia, once I have more details, the information can be found on my website.

Podcast Series 2/4 - RAW Category Winner Noah Wetzel

In this series by the Pitched Industries Podcast Red Bull Illume category winners including the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019 give us their unfiltered insights into how they were able to capture their winning images, what inspires them, why they do what they are doing and what winning the Red Bull Illume Image Quest has done (and might be doing) for their careers. Stay tuned for a new episode every Tuesday over the next four weeks!

This week RAW category winner Noah Wetzel talks about how exactly he was able to pull off a shot that many thought was not possible to produce without the help of post-production!  

Listen to the podcast BELOW or head over to Pitched Industries!

If you haven't yet done so, make sure to check out Episode 1 with Innovation by Sony category winner Laurence Crossman-Emms


More work by Noah Wetzel at noahdavidwetzel.com or on his Instagram @noahwetzel.

Podcast Series 1/4 - Innovation by Sony Category Winner Laurence Crossman-Emms

In this series by the Pitched Industries Podcast Red Bull Illume category winners including the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019 give us their unfiltered insights into how they were able to capture their winning images, what inspires them, why they do what they are doing and what winning the Red Bull Illume Image Quest has done (and might be doing) for their careers. Stay tuned for a new episode every Tuesday over the next four weeks!

This week Innovation by Sony category winner Laurence Crossman-Emms explains, amongst other things, what makes him feel attracted to puddles and take photos everytime he spots one. 

Listen to the Podcast below or head over to Pitched Industries

Find more of Laurence Crossman-Emms work at laurence-ce.com and follow him on Instagram @laurence_ce.

Behind the finalist shot by Robin Pearson

With his stunning image of a BMX rider in an underground tunnel in Portugal, that plays with light and shadow in a very unique way, Robin Pearson made it to the Top 60 of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019. Check out this exclusive behind the scenes video which shows how he nailed this insane shot!

Born in the UK, Robin Pearson's drive to capture the finest moments of BMX riding on the most interesting terrain he can find brought him all the way to Portugal where he now lives. It was his move to the westernmost country of Europe that made the image possible in the first place: "Soon after I moved to Portugal, my friend Anthony Pearson (no relation) hit me up about coming to visit. He is a fellow spot enthusiast - as in, he loves finding and riding the most interesting spots possible - and had wanted to make the trip to this full pipe spot for years. With me living fairly close by, he finally had a good excuse to make it happen."

When you look at Robin's image one of the first questions that will pop into your head will be about the location. So what's this spot? "It's a drainage channel that leads from a reservoir down into the earth, under the hill and out into the next valley. It does baffle me how civil engineering projects often produce huge rideable transitions like this, but I'm not complaining. To get in there, you head down a dirt track, cut through some trees and then face a steep drop down into the valley. Many of the metal rungs of the old ladder had eroded away long before we arrived, but thanks to the locals João and Bruno Soares, who helped us find the place, we were prepared with ropes to handle the descent. The feeling you get when you see a spot like this can't be overstated. It's genuinely electrifying - standing at the entrance of the pipe, Anthony and I could not believe the scale of it."

No one had the final picture in mind at all, they all just wanted to ride the spot and have a good time: "Our goal for the day was actually to ride the far end, which is more like a half-pipe, but pitched down a steep slope into the pipe. And that's what we did! All four of us cleaned the place up a bit, felt it out on our bikes, rode it the best we could, shooting photos and filming clips. At the end of the session, as you'll see in the video, Anthony even sent a flair on the vert wall."

The image that made it to the final stage of Red Bull Illume has not been shot up until this point: "As we were on our way out, we saw the full pipe in a new light - quite literally. The sun had come down and was now beaming along the valley, illuminating the vast concrete pipe with a beautiful warm glow. I told Anthony we had to shoot a few carves! I knew he was knackered from riding all afternoon but I didn't know how long the light would last and wanted to capture the sheer scale of the pipe in that glow. It's just a simple carve in a big pipe. No tricks just pure BMX."

But how was the exprience for the BMX rider Anthony Pearson? "As we climbed down the sketchy ladder and arrived at the mouth of the full pipe all sorts of thoughts were running through my head. What if someone sees us and calls the police? What if someone gets hurt? What if the water suddenly started flowing through this thing? But all these doubts were suddenly replaced with pure excitement to start riding."

Since the light changed quite late, Anthony was already pretty worn out. To get the final shot he pushed himself to his limits: "As I started to pedal down the pipe I quickly realised the gearing on my bike was far too light for such a big and full pipe. I knew we would only have a few shots at this before my legs gave up on me. Pedalling as fast as I could, pulling a small wheelie through the puddle of water at the bottom I carved up into a spot where I hoped Robin would be happy with. Luckily for me he is a true professional and nailed the shot at the first try. It was a fantastic end to an amazing day riding one of the best spots in Europe."

See more of Robin Pearson's awesome work on his Instagram or check out his website!

Interview: Free Solo Speed Climbing with Christian Gisi

Born and grown up in Switzerland Christian Gisi is a true expert when it comes to extraordinary vertical adventures. In this interview the RAW Category finalist talks us through what it means to document the most thrilling projects mountaineers and climbers can encounter - speed climbing and especially free solo speed climbing ascents of some of the wildest peaks in the Alps.

What fascinates you about photography and why have you chosen to take part in the Image Quest 2019? 

Anyone who is active in the outdoor and action sports scene can hardly get past Red Bull Illume. I was thrilled by the pictures of the past editions. The level is incredibly high - all the more I feel honored to be a small part of it in the 2019 edition. 
The combination of aesthetics and athletics is what makes it special for me. We see athletes at great performances in beautifully composed images. This is also part of the answer to what fascinates me about photography in general. Despite an epochal overload of images in the digital age, photography has lost nothing of its magic for me. However, with the incredible quantity of pictures, it has become more of an art not to press the shutter button or to take a picture only when I am convinced that I have something as unseen and valuable as possible in front of my lens. 
Ideally you then make the difference between a good and a very good picture... 

Your image of the athletes Caro North and Steph Davis on the famous Mittellegi ridge on the Eiger in the Swiss Alps made it to the final stage of the Image Quest 2019. Can you tell us a little bit about the shot? How did it come about? 

As a mountain, the Eiger is simply an absolute knockout. The visual and historical dominance of its world-famous north face makes you shudder every time you approach it. 
The impressive east ridge that is visible in the photo is probably one of the most beautiful ridge tours of the Alps. With regards to the ambiance, the shot is actually quite a "no brainer". 
The photo was taken during a shooting for a Swiss mountaineering equipment supplier. We installed two camera teams to accompany Caro and Steph - one with the photographer Thomas Senf directly on the mountain, a filmmaker and myself for the aerial shots. On this second day of shooting everything was just right: We waited until late afternoon to get the perfect lighting conditions. That the fog in the south wall added to the drama was the icing on the cake. Such impressions stay with you - not only in the camera. 

You worked with exceptionally talented athletes over the years. Have you learned something from them that also comes in handy for your work as a photographer? 

To be in the terrain with such athletes is of course impressive at first: Their way of understanding what is going on in the mountains, their way of assessing the dangers but most of all their incredible athletic abilities to move on rock and ice leaves me speechless even after many years. Although it may sound trite, the respect they show towards the mountain is impressive. 
In addition, professionals like Dani Arnold, Steph Davis or Jérémie Heitz know exactly what is important when it comes to illustrating their sport. It is therefore worthwhile to listen. 
But what really impresses me is the modesty of these athletes: Someone who pursues a sport at the highest possible level in the world, gives everything for his passion and still never gives his environment the feeling of being too good for anything. 
These are perhaps less the central skills that influenced me as a photographer, but as a human being I have really taken a lot of such personalities with me on my way. 

What’s the biggest challenge when shooting free solo and speed climbing records? 

You have to make a difference: Usually such pictures are re-enacted after a record. This applies to most of the famous records on the Eiger, Matterhorn, El Cap etc. For example, we also did it this way with Dani Arnold on the Matterhorn.
However, during his speed ascent of the Cassin Route on Piz Badile in 2016, we went a new way and made a documentation of Dani live during his record. This changes the situation for both, the athlete and the photographer, completely. 
There is an aesthetic-planning dimension: What does the shooting process look like? In which passages do you absolutely want to have pictures? What possibilities for spectacular angles do we have, how quickly can we change from one position to another, etc.? 
Then there's a technical one: Basically you have exactly one shot. During a speed ascent, the athlete cannot just turn around and climb a passage again. So you better make sure that you have the camera under control. 
Finally, there is a personal level: Someone close to you is climbing and risks his life. If he makes even a small mistake, you will be watching him fall to certain death. I don't think that this can be answered conclusively, but you must ask yourself if and how you could live with it. 
So it takes an enormous amount of trust on both sides. The athlete has to know that we do not put additional pressure on him in any way. He has to be able to rely on it, that everything works out and that we capture his exploit as professionally as possible.
I, on the other hand, must be able to rely 100% on him not taking the slightest unnecessary risk because of the camera.
That's where the dilemma comes from: Do you shoot during the ascent and risk putting the athlete under additional pressure - or do you shoot afterwards and expose the athlete again to an extremely risky situation, just to have nice pictures? 

Can you explain how a shoot like this usually works? Do you climb next to the athlete(s) or do you use drones?

Without (massive) technical aids, it is usually not possible, because climbing along is definitely not an option. You can recreate scenes in the wall from fixed positions, but this is not really possible when shooting live. For this you would need a very large crew with many different teams in the wall. At best, you can do this in Yosemite in stable weather, but in an exposed wall in the Alps at 4000m above sea level, it's a logistical nightmare. As a lay person you can hardly imagine the enormous climbing speed - but in many places it is actually more of a running than a climbing. The whole thing advances so fast that you always have to be fully concentrated. 

Drones are ingenious - of course I use them too. But with large walls there are still limits. For really good pictures, I'm afraid the helicopter is (still) irreplaceable in such terrain. The interaction with the pilot is then crucial, he must know the site very well, understand where the most important passages are and from which positions the view of the route is best. During the record attempt itself, communication with the athlete is not possible - so good planning is essential. 

What equipment do you use when you shoot free solo or speed climbers? One would imagine it has to be rather light?
 
No, lightness is not the most important thing. Of course, I only take to the mountain what fits in a backpack and I can carry around with me without any problems. But absolute reliability, speed (like a fast, precise focus) and a certain redundancy are the most important things. Basically, I always work with two cameras with different lenses more or less parallel in such projects. It would really be most unfortunate if an athlete would make a phenomenal exploit and I would mess it up... 

What are your goals as a photographer? Anything specific for 2020? 

Photography is only one of my activities and passions - I fear that 2020 will be more about other tasks. Nevertheless: Some projects are definitely on the agenda this summer in the mountains.
And of course: Slowly I will start to develop first ideas for the next Red Bull Illume Image Quest... 

Where can we find more of your work? 

Best is to visit my website atlense.com I'm afraid I'm a little too lazy to maintain social media channels - but sure, you can find me on Instagram @atlense_photography. Ok, with the latter, a few more followers would probably be nice...

Gallery: It's more fun together!

No matter if it's the pleasure, the suffering or the glory, emotions around adventure and action sports can easily go beyond the boundaries and no matter if you're an athlete or a photographer, you want to make sure you can share them. Here are 8 images from the 2019 Image Quest that instantly make you want to text your adventure buddies!

Feel inspired? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more adventure and action sports! 

Interview: Lachie Carracher on his perfect shot at the end of the rainbow!

Lachie Carracher's spectacular shot of kayaker Bren Orton dropping down Alexandra Falls perfectly captures the thrill and joy of kayaking! With us the finalist of the Wings Category in the Image Quest 2019 chats about his happy place, challenges along the way and the ultimate location he wants to shoot at.

Now you're a Red Bull Illume finalist, describe what the Wings Category means to you?

The Wings Category to me is the moment of flight, the still moment where things go completely quiet. As a photographer, it is the moment my breath stops and I just hear the shutter.

What came first for you - whitewater kayaking or photography?

Whitewater kayaking came to me first, I had just started travelling for whitewater kayaking when I purchased my first camera. After that first big trip abroad my photography passion grew exponentially.

What is it that draws you into the water and whitewater especially?

The flow of being on the river is addictive, once you peel out into the current you are in a different world. Moving downstream with a group of friends in a stunning environment is my happy place for sure! Every river has a different character and spirit, that's what makes travelling around the world and being drawn to new and foreign rivers so appealing.

What are your biggest influences in adventure and action sports photography?

Somehow, I surround myself with crazy people unintentionally all the time, it's the norm now really. Now and again I take a step back and realize that my friends are some of the craziest whitewater kayakers, BASE jumpers and surfers in the world and we are all so privileged to spend our time on this planet checking out wild places and new experiences. Long story short - my influences are my friends, wild places and my drive to be best at what I do.

How did the idea for your finalist shot come about?

Alexandra Falls has fascinated me since I first saw an image of it in 2003. Drone photography has allowed so many more creative angles and perspectives to shoot waterfalls. I thought about the perfect shot for a long time, one that combines both the scale of the waterfall and the perspective of the paddler staring down one hundred feet. When the paddler decides to run down such a steep waterfall, he doesn't think about the perfect light, like I ususally do. As a photographer you have to work with what you have. But I coudn't be happier with the way the image turned out, incorporating the rainbow at the bottom of the falls.

How did you discover the location and meet the athlete?

The location is known in the whitewater scene since its first descent in 2003, it only has been paddled by a few people. Although I knew the rough location, it wasn't until I got there that I fully understood that I was almost in the arctic circle. I traveled there with two friends from home and I met Bren (Orton, ed. note), the athlete, at the Falls as he arrived with another group of some of the world's leading paddlers.

Did the final image turn out exactly as planned?

More or less, yes, even better in some ways. I love that you can see the deep water channel so clear. I had not expected this until I first flew the drone over it to do a test shoot.

What was the biggest challenge in capturing this photo?

Managing multiple cameras and getting the timing right. That's always a challenge when you are shooting aerial and handheld at the same time. Also, the athlete usually takes a couple of minutes to get in the right mindset for the drop. The drone battery has a very short lifetime so the timing was key here.

A kayak doesn't have enough space for suitcases full of gear. What do you carry on a regular adventure?

Safety gear, my camera, something to snack on and a lighter and knife are always with me on a day trip in my kayak.

Your ultimate location/athlete/sport to shoot?

Such a hard question! Any wild and remote place with my friends on a river is a dream I will have forever. Whitewater will always be close to my heart but I am shooting a lot more BASE jumping these days. If we are talking dreams though, Dean Potter somewhere in the Yosemite Valley.

How did you discover Red Bull Illume?

I first learned about it when I saw Eric Parker's entry in the last contest. It's a fantastic event and I feel honoured to be a part of it.

Plans vs. dreams for 2020?

My plans this year take me to the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, followed by the West Coast of North America. Then to Kyrgystan and Ethiopia in the fall and maybe to Madagascar. I'm excited to visit some new locations. My dream shot this year would be a humpback whale while Freediving in Madagascar.

Where can we find more of your work?

On Instagram @follow_the_river and on my website LachieC.com!