Behind the Lens with Silvano Zeiter

The Swiss photographer Silvano Zeiter continues to catch the world’s attention with impeccable imagery from his project "Poly". As one of the youngest finalists in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2010, we catch up with him to find out what he’s been up to and how he’s pushing past creative limits to capture the energetic movements of snowboarding and turn them into art.

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© Silvano Zeiter / Red Bull Illume

You were the youngest finalist in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2010, how did that impact your career?

I was a 19-year-old kid, so that happened pretty much at the start of my path as a photographer. I‘d say most of all it gave me some kind of confirmation that chances were quite good that I was doing something right.Mostly it gave me confidence and motivated me to keep going.

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© Silvano Zeiter

What kind of projects do you work on the most? Any criteria these projects need to fulfill?

I mostly work with clients in sports and fashion with preferably lots of creative freedom. I want to be able to stand behind my work with/for them, as well as behind the clients’ philosophy.
The process of working on a project is just as important to me as the actual outcome of the work. Therefore, having fun and inspiring people around me is crucial to me.

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© Silvano Zeiter

What project are you the proudest of and why?

That would be my latest project called ‘Poly’ for sure. It’s a body of work that consists of three flip books, three Polyscopes, a curated collection of exhibited prints and an audiovisual excerpt from the feature film Chroma with Severin van der Meer. Part of the excerpt was a finalist in Photo Story category of the Image Quest 2021.
Having worked on ‘Poly’ for the past two years, it has by far been my most consuming and devoted project yet and I‘m forever thankful to all the dedicated people who helped “Poly” come to life.

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© Silvano Zeiter

Tell us a little bit more about the exhibition

Poly, the exhibition, opened its doors in early November at the Chroma Premiere Weekend at the Riders Hotel in Laax, Switzerland. It was an opportunity attendants could experience the whole body of work in full and basically what all the work led up to. The books, the Polyscopes and the movie were on display together with a collection of 16 curated prints. The prints were supposed to give the spectator an opportunity to halt and internalize the matter statically in opposition to the fast and animated nature of the books, the Polyscopes or the movie. By integrating the photos in the film, we wanted to not only add another layer of media to the movie, but also put them in opposition to traditional film, based media and thus potentially reveal the advantages and disadvantages of both still and moving images. It was very important to me that I was able to have the photos printed and on a wall as that’s where they ultimately belong.

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© Silvano Zeiter

How do you capture the energy and action in your images?

I‘ve been shooting follow- and lead-cam with snowboarders almost my whole career. I think it‘s a good tool to show the dynamics and motion of the seemingly simple moves like a turn, a butter or an ollie which also makes it somewhat relatable to most people. It gets you to angles that just wouldn‘t be possible when shooting static. Through the years, my shutter speeds got longer, which allowed me to pull the spectators into the action even more and make them feel part of it themselves.
Of course, as you have to be close to each other at high speeds it comes with a certain risk. You have to focus on the terrain, your riding, your buddy‘s riding and handling the camera all at once. A high level of mutual trust between the photographer and the rider is crucial.

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© Silvano Zeiter

What do you need to consider when shooting adventure and action sports?

Safety of course is an important aspect that‘s to be taken seriously. Being respectful and appreciative to be given the opportunity and the trust by nature and the people around you to do what you do is just as essential to me.

What’s the dream shot you want to nail?

I can‘t say there is one. If there was, I‘d just go out and do it. But seriously, in order to keep the drive and motivation to keep creating and push my work and myself forward, I try to stay openminded and tap every source of inspiration. I try to go with the drift of things and to look at creating as a process with many layers. This way I trust that “dream shots” will pop up along the way without having to look too hard for them.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming photographers?

I think Colin Wiseman wisely nailed it when he said that just simply being nice went a long way. Frankly, nobody wants to work with assholes, so just not acting like one will pay off. I personally would add authenticity as being just as important to this.

For more inspiration follow Silvano on Instagram @silvanozeiter or check out his website!

Gallery: High Above

Gravity-defying moments that aren’t for the faint at heart. Prepare to be stunned by these unbelievable shots that truly show the great heights photographers and athletes are willing to go for adventure. Warning: Don’t look down!

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© Micky Wiswedel / Red Bull Illume

Exhibition launches at Hangar-7, Austria

The winning entries from last year's Image Quest are exhibited at Salzburg’s famous Hangar-7, from today until May 8, 2022.

Red Bull Illume Exhibition Hangar 7

© zooom

The Red Bull Illume Exhibition is returning to Salzburg, Austria! The winning images from the Image Quest 2021 will all be on display from today until May 8, 2022, inside the extraordinary Hangar-7, the famous home to historic aircraft and Formula 1 cars. However, this isn’t the first time the iconic venue has hosted a tour stop, because it’s already welcomed fans to find inspiration for many editions.

The exhibition is the perfect way to honor the hard work and dedication of these photographers and is a fantastic showcase of their talent. It features the 56 finalist images on innovative 2x2 meter lightboxes provided by the German based manufacturer CCS Fabric Frame. The outstanding quality truly presents the images the way in which they should be enjoyed.
 

The Red Bull Illume Exhibition is not only a great idea for a day out but is also an opportunity to visit Hangar-7 and enjoy the dynamic architecture. It truly is a fascinating space and creates a unique atmosphere, constructed with lots of glass so you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the Alps - the perfect backdrop for the world’s greatest adventure and action sports images. The entire experience provides a window into the world of these photographers and the lengths they are willing to go to get the perfect shot. It is free to visit and is open daily from March 10 until May 8, 2022, during Hangar-7’s usual opening hours of 9AM to 10PM.

Red Bull Illume Exhibition Hangar 7 Carolin Unrath Andreas Mu llner

The two category winners, Carolin Unrath and Markus Berger, attended the Hangar-7 Red Bull Illume Exhibition opening. “For me, and also for Andi, it is an amazing experience. I was completely overwhelmed, I'm still processing it and seeing this exhibition for the first time is a very unique moment.”, says Carolin Unrath, winner of the Lifestyle by COOPH category.
 
Markus Berger, who won the Playground by WhiteWall category, says: “To see my shot printed in the exhibition and illuminated at night feels amazing. The colors and the size... it is really cool! Also, to see my photo between all the other photos and the great work is awesome and I feel really grateful to be part of this.”

Their images have been selected out of 41,447 entries submitted to last year’s Red Bull Illume Image Quest, from which 56 finalists were selected by an international judging panel of 53 photo and industry experts. Will Saunders, an American photographer, earned the Overall Winner prize for his shot of climber, Jake Talley, striking a pose while taking a lead fall on a spectacular rock tower in Indian Creek, Utah.

Red Bull Illume Exhibition Hangar 7 Markus Berger Dominik Hernler

This is just one of the stops of the Indoor Exhibition that is touring Europe, so keep your eyes peeled and calendars open because the best adventure and action sports images will also visit countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy! To stay up to date with all the tour stops and get your fix of awe-inspiring adventure and action sports photography check out the exhibition page and follow @redbullillume on your favorite social media platform.

Behind the Lens with Marco Dullnig

With his photo project "Innvisible" Red Bull Illume semi-finalist Marco Dullnig transports us into another world. Together with different athletes from the Innsbruck area he used infrared to create a series of unbelievable images.

 

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© Marco Dullnig

This type of infrared photography is implemented with a specially converted camera and special filter to create a look that is strongly reminiscent of Kodak's Aerochrome analog film. Due to their chemical composition, plants reflect wavelengths in the infrared range that are invisible to humans and are rendered red due to a filter. Non-organic objects, such as buildings, retain their natural colors.

“As an action sports photographer, it is my goal to find creative ways to showcase athletes. Through the intense red color, I want to draw attention to the importance of balancing nature and urban spaces,” explains the Austrian photographer. “The first infrared images I stumbled across were by Richard Mosse in 2018. I was fascinated by his idea and the creative implementation, but I didn't really understand the technical background. When the COVID pandemic started and I was trapped in my apartment in Innsbruck for weeks, I became more involved with the topic of black and white infrared photography and learned the technical background to make extraordinary landscape photography.”

Out of boredom, Marco decided to take apart his old DSLR to remove the blocking filter that sits in front of the sensor in order to make the camera sensitive to infrared light. In black and white infrared photography, filters are used in front of the lens to block light visible to the human eye in the range below about 780 nanometers (nm), allowing only infrared light to pass through to the sensor. Because of the chlorophyll in plants, infrared light is strongly reflected and allows the leaves to appear snow white in black and white photography.

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© Marco Dullnig / Red Bull Illume
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© Marco Dullnig

 

 

The problem with this DSLR was that the focal plane changed due to the lack of a blocking filter and consistently sharp images seemed almost impossible. Marco needed a mirrorless camera. “After a successful conversion and the first black and white landscape shots, I experimented with false color photography where infrared light is mixed with visible light to create colored images. I still had the images of Richard Mosse in the back of my mind and tried to achieve the style that he used. There is a lot of editing work in False Color photography, because you have to swap the blue and red color channels to get an effect similar to Kodak Aerochrome,” he explains.

Due to the large amount of editing work and the necessary manipulation of the color channels, Marco was looking for other solutions to achieve the Aerochrome effect without resorting to the hard-to-find analog film. With the help of fellow photographer, Esben Zøllner Olesen, he came across the IR Chrome filter from Kolari Vision. With this filter, he was able to create the effect he wanted, without manipulating the image.
“The final step in getting this project where I wanted was buying a new mirrorless camera and getting it converted, professionally. With all the set up complete, my idea of photographing action athletes in the urban Innsbruck environment was born!”

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© Marco Dullnig

Bernhard Spöttel's review of the Leica SL2-S camera - The best of both worlds

Testing the best of both worlds, Bernhard Spöttel decided to test the Leica SL2-S with one of his favorite photography genres: adventure and action sports.

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© Bernhard Spöttel

What does Bernhard Spöttel look for in a camera? Well, as a videographer and photographer for over 20 years his portfolio includes a vast range of work including aerial photography, portraiture as well as athletes and events for Red Bull; so for him, the Leica SL2-S is great because it’s like two cameras in one.

You’ve been in the photography business for over 20 years. How did you actually get into it?
I discovered my father’s black and white laboratory, when I was 13, and that was when my passion was first stirred. I established myself as a freelance photographer when I was 23. Shortly afterwards, I was able to win Red Bull as one of my most important clients. Nowadays, the range of my photographic work is very broad: from stills taken in the studio to commercials, editorials, aerial photography, automobiles, portraits and sports.

That certainly is a broad palette. What equipment do you use?
For assignments in the studio, where higher resolution is important, I use a Leica S3. For editorial assignments, and depending upon the demands, I use either my Leica M10 or an SL2. The SL2 is also my choice when I am working on action photography, as then I need a very fast autofocus.

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© Bernhard Spöttel

Any photographer knows that a camera not only needs to fill all the specs, but also withstand whatever the shoot throws at it - and if you’re into adventure and action sports photography you know that things can, quite literally, be thrown at you.

You’ve tried out quite a few things, then. How did the camera deal with the outdoor setting?
The camera has an extremely robust construction and is very well protected against dust and sprays of water; so it can be recommended for a diversity of action shoots. The results during twilight were also very satisfactory and fulfilled all my expectations.

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Photographer and videographer Bernhard Spöttel reviewed the Leica SL2-S.

How was the SL2-S as a film camera?
I must say that the SL2-S is really good for filming. When using it, I noticed that the pictures taken with the SL2-S can be very well adapted to the results of the cine cameras. In this area, I consider that the SL2-S is far superior to the SL2. The reproduction of skin tones and the sharpness are especially pleasant. I was also very positively surprised by the results of the high-speed images. Sometimes, you can already get very good results at 180 fps.

In your opinion, what is the most special thing about this camera?
The great thing about the SL2-S is the possibility to attach such a large diversity of lenses, including the strong M lenses; but you can use all kinds of lenses. That’s particularly important for filming, where the combination of camera, sensor and lens is much more decisive than it is for photographing; because, when taking pictures, you can take individual images and change them significantly afterwards and also rescue them, if necessary. With filming, that’s not so easy. Because the lights move through the image, you need to define in advance what kind of look you want to have. What makes the camera stand out? It’s the combination: the new sensor; the speed gained as a result; and, above all, the pictures that it produces, whether photographs or video.

Discover more about the Leica SL2-S and its versatile features here.

Underwater photography 101 with Alex Voyer

There aren’t many people that can say they spend most of their time living on a sailboat and exploring the depths of the ocean with nothing but their wetsuit and camera. Alex Voyer is one of these people and we were able to catch him out of the water and find out some of his best freediving and photography tips.

 

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What's important to consider when freediving several meters deep?

The most important thing is to be VERY comfortable freediving at certain depths (my max. depth is around 50 meters). When you are shooting, freediving is just a skill, a way to look at something, and this is not a sport to push to the limits. I used to freedive in rough seas, cold waters, surrounded by animals, so I do not even think about my freediving skills, I just go shooting.

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© Alex Voyer

What’s your work-life balance like?

At the moment, I am living the biggest part of my life with my wife Marianne Aventurier on my sailing boat (Diatomée) which is currently located in French Polynesia.
I am in the water swimming and freediving everyday and shooting very often. Most of the images I take are for my personal projects.

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© Alex Voyer

What gear do you trust in when shooting underwater and what do you always have with you?

I am using very standard gear for these types of images, it’s just important to put the camera in a diving underwater housing. My gear is very strong but also very, very heavy; two cameras plus 4 to 5 lenses, and the underwater stuff is probably around 12-15 kilos. I dream of a very compact setup, but I haven’t found any compact solutions yet.

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© Alex Voyer
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© Alex Voyer

How do you approach the animals of the sea such as the great white sharks?

Approaching marine animals is a huge subject for me, because I have been diving with them for a long time. The more I dive, the more I realize, that they do not need any photographer around…  Mass tourism is not so good for them and I still shoot them, this is a huge dilemma for me.

The more I shoot sharks or whales, the more people ask me how to do that, and I am confronted with this contradiction. I try to explain that I can take a lot of time to approach an animal (several weeks, or more) on a sailing boat, but I think that in the future I will not spend much more time looking for animals. If they come to me, I will be happy, however, I will still free dive around seaweed.

What gear do you trust in when shooting underwater and what do you always have with you?

I am using very standard gear for these types of images, it’s just important to put the camera in a diving underwater housing.

My gear is very strong but also very, very heavy; two cameras plus 4 to 5 lenses, and the underwater stuff is probably around 12-15 kilos. I dream of a very compact setup, but I haven’t found any compact solutions yet.

I also try to reduce anything around me (freediving and sailing is not the best way to accumulate and have a lot of gear).

I have very minimal diving stuff (a wetsuit, a mask, a snorkel and 2 fins) I have no air tank, and also no additional light or strobe.

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© Alex Voyer

Do you plan your images or go with the flow?

Each time I plan an image it is a nightmare, I spend days planning for it and the result is not always good. There are so many unpredictable things that change underwater that you have to adapt to at any moment (waves, bubbles, light changing, etc.). You just need time (and luck).

What’s your aim when capturing the beauty of underwater life?

The aim is to capture beauty. As an outdoor photographer, I love my playground, I want to say that we can also be part of nature and live in harmony.

Many of us are really respectful and love wildlife, I feel that showing beauty is my job.

How do you edit your images?

Underwater editing is a great part of the job. Water absorbs a lot of light, and a lot of contrasts. You can push a lot in the editing process, that is probably why I am a disaster when I edit my land shots! I would say that the two main parameters are to take care of the white balance and contrast.

Shooting raw files is really needed for this kind of underwater light.

Discover more about Alex's work on his website and on Instagram!

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© Alex Voyer / Red Bull Illume
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© Alex Voyer

What does it take to unveil the world's greatest adventure and action sports images?

We’ve created a video so you can check out the behind-the-scenes of our most unique Winners’ Unveiling Week ever.

Red Bull Illume 2021 Carolin Unrath

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 resulted in unforgettable moments and even more incredible imagery than we could’ve expected. We wanted to honour these photographers in a way that not only got their work seen by our Red Bull Illume community, but also the world! This is why, for the sixth edition of this contest, we hosted a five-day Win-ners’ Unveiling Week in which we announced two category winners every day from November 29 to December 4, 2021, which built up to the overall winner an-nouncement in Aspen Snowmass, CO, USA.

How did we do it? Well, we made a video to show you, but we can say it took a lot of epic teamwork and ensuring we were equipped with the best tech. It was also an awesome opportunity for our partners, like Lenovo, to jump on board and show the world how powerful their products really are. Check out our behind-the-scenes video now!

 

Gallery: Winter Wonderland

This gallery is perfect for all the winter enthusiasts out there. Check out these insane Red Bull Illume images from previous editions if you are looking for some inspiration or if you just want to daydream about awesome winter locations!

P.S. Maybe you shouldn't look at these images if you can't hit the slopes this weekend.

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© Ryan Fernette / Red Bull Illume

Exhibit Tour kicks off in Europe!

We’re bringing the greatest adventure and action sports imagery to SES Spar European Shopping Centers in your city for the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour.

Red Bull, Ausstellung, Europark, 20200817, (c) wildbild

© Wildbild

Let the exhibit tour begin! Having unveiled the overall and category winners of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021, the top 56 images are now to be displayed on unique 2x2m lightboxes across selected European venues.

Our third partnership with SES Spar European Shopping Centers will see the incredible images exhibited, once again, inside their premium shopping malls throughout Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. SES is known for their award-winning design, innovative marketing and the ability to bring people from all walks of life together under one roof. Currently they operate 30 shopping destinations spread across central, southern and eastern Europe.

Every image of the top 56 is printed on a custom made fabric and illuminated on 2x2m T-shaped lightboxes made by CCS Fabric Frame. This unique display blends perfectly into the classic yet modern mall-architecture of SES and presents the best adventure and action sports images in a truly unique way.

There are a total of 23 tour stops at SES shopping malls in the heart of many of Europe’s most historic cities and provides a unique experience for visitors of all ages, young and old alike. Check out all tour stops here!

Out in the wild with Marc Stickler and the Leica SL2-S

The Leica SL2-S supports nature photographer and filmmaker Marc Stickler as he travels the world. In the interview he tells us more about what he looks for in a camera when he’s out in the wild.

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© Marc Stickler

The best moments happen when we collaborate, which is why we decided to team up with the world-renowned German camera manufacturer, Leica, who are also supporter of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021. Why? Well, we wanted to show you how amazing the Leica SL2-S camera is because it’s perfect for adventure and action sports photography! Today, the incredible photographer and filmmaker, Marc Stickler, tells us why the SL2-S is everything he looks for in a camera.

After years of training and working as a biologist focused on wild animals, Marc Stickler’s unmatched knowledge has led him to capturing some of the most unique images in countless places around the world. In this interview, the Austrian photographer and filmmaker shares his experiences and tells us why he truly believes photography can be used to protect nature.

What has been biggest influence on your photography?
My emotional state at any given time is most important. I want my photography to trigger emotions in the viewer. If a person feels something when looking at my pictures, then half the race is won, so to speak; and if the beauty and uniqueness of the animals and nature then impel someone to become a spokesperson for our planet, I feel that my job has been done.

Which moments incite you to hit the shutter button?
It’s the beauty of nature expressed in so many facets. Sometimes what inspires me is a lovely natural pattern, a particular animal behavior, a person’s smile, colors, waterfalls or a magical starry night sky. There are so many moments worthy of hitting the trigger – what matters is to stay in the here and now, and not just see life through the viewfinder.

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© Marc Stickler

Are there places where you especially like to take photographs?
I refer to the Okavango Delta in Botswana as my second home. It has become my goal to portray the fascinating beauty of this fragile ecosystem. I would also like to arouse awareness of the great danger to this natural spectacle, due to oil rigs, fracking and dams in Angola. I’m also very impressed by the vastness of the Maasai Mara and Serengeti, which offer special photographic conditions, whatever the season.
Photographing mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda is something special: Sigmund Freud once said that eyes are the windows to the soul – you can see and feel that very particularly in their case.

Are there places you absolutely want to go to, or projects you want to do?
So far, I’ve avoided colder regions. However, I’ll soon have a chance to travel to the Arctic and the Antarctic. The immediate projects in my future are photography workshops with the Leica Academy in Austria, and an international photo safari in Kenya.

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© Marc Stickler

How was it to work with the SL2-S? What did you enjoy in particular?
I find the combination of film and photo outstanding. It has never been so easy to produce incredible video material, while also holding such a fast camera in my hands. Furthermore, the camera’s robustness was of great value in Africa. It often fell on the ground, during unintended braking maneuvers… and nothing happened to it! The size of the sensor allows you to go into ISO ranges that would have been unthinkable in the past. The autofocus is phenomenal and, combined with the Leica lenses, the SL2-S is a very convincing camera.

In what way has this camera system enlightened your work?
Thanks to its dependability, under unimaginable conditions of dust, heat and humidity, the SL2-S system has earned my complete trust. The built-in microphone allows me to make video recordings directly with sound, and without much hassle.

Want to know more about the Leica SL2-S and if it is a camera that works for you as well? You can find out more here.