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adventure & action sport
adventure & action sport
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As usual, this picture was taken during a skateboard session I had intended to shoot on video. It was during a Cliché skateboard tour called The Gipsy Tour, for which we had absolutely no set plan — apart from going with the feeling, sleeping out every night, and having only 10 euros a day for food. It was definitely the best skateboard tour I’ve been on.
This session wasn’t exceptional. Looking for a good filming angle, I ended up finding one that would be interesting only for something photographic. I told the guys I was going to take a five-minute break to shoot a photo and asked Andrew Brophy, who wasn’t skating, to do this 360° flip trick because I knew he had the best style of all while performing that trick. I was looking for something very stylish. It worked out perfectly, just the way I visualized it. It’s always a good feeling when this happens.
It was a last minute decision to go to Chile. We sat in the pouring rain for days and days waiting for the swell to come.
We thought we had planned it perfectly, but even in the fall you can still get a winter storm. We woke up the morning after the rains to howling offshore winds, swell was pulsing and the conditions were as good as they get. We drove to a spot in the afternoon that the locals had said, “rarely breaks.” When we pulled up it was reeling left barrels for almost a football field’s length. We scrambled to get out and surf.
I was sun burnt and tired and had no idea how to document this moment.
The waves were some of the most i had ever seen, so I decided to risk it. I sprinted down the beach and hiked up a sand dune to get a pulled back perspective. The shore break was so big, and the offshores’ plumes so high, that I was missing most of the best waves, but finally a set came through. The light, the wind, and the swell were perfect. It was as if everything in nature fell into perfect harmony for this single moment. As Peter Mendia eased into this wave, the backwash hit, sending a golden shower of water 10-feet above his head, and sending him down the line of another 20-second barrel.
I found this unique spot in the summer and I really wanted to shoot a snowboard picture there. I told Xaver Hoffmann about the spot and he was also fascinated. My idea to shoot in heavy snowfall wasn't going to be easy, as it only snowed once in this spot last season. So there was pretty much just a one-time chance to get this shot.
I used two big Elinchrom strobes in the background to light up the snowflakes and create a ‘white wall’ where I could capture Xaver’s silhouette as he jumped. To get some light onto the dish, I chose a 4-second exposure time to get some light from the moon.
Overall, I'm pretty happy that we made it there that day!
Senad and I were on the way to a different location early in the morning, when we passed this scenic spot. We saw a sign from the street and I had some pictures in mind that I’d seen from this bridge on the internet. When we got there the sun was just above the trees and it was lighting up the full color-spectrum of the autumn leaves in a very soft way.
One thing that was a little annoying was that the lake was covered with leaves which had fallen from trees, so the reflection of the bridge in the lake was just not there. But sometimes you just need a bit of luck – I had been on a fishing trip some days before and still had my fishing-boots and a net in the car. So got the stuff and tried to clean the lake by hand. It took a while until it was almost perfectly clean – at least where it was relevant for the picture. Luckily the sun was still very soft, so we had good light for the shot.
I’d chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot. There was also no more time for another try because the wind came up and the perfect reflection on the water was gone. We jumped back to the car and drove towards our originally planned spot. It was an awesome feeling to have shot this picture with more or less pure luck. Without the sign next to the road, we would have passed one of the nicest photo scenes.
Whenever I go out to make some images, I do my best to come back with something that I haven't done before. I've shot whippers many a time, but this time I wanted to try something a little different. A group of us rallied out to my favorite place in the desert to get some climbing in and make some imagery along the way. I asked Jake to really shape his body into more of a powerful movement rather than the classic falling position. With grace and style, Jake pulled this shape out of the air, allowing me to capture an image that is unique compared to most of the literal climbing imagery we see. His body reminded me of a superhero, which is fitting to me because most of my friends in this action sports world are my heroes.
We worked hard for a week, just planning and preparing the terrain for this shot. What's particularly difficult to achieve in a shot like this one is to place the two kickers in the right place a couple of days before. Even more tough is that it needs to be taken at 3,000m high with the heavy gear you need to take the shot. Once you have the scenery ready, you just have to wait for the moment and pray for a bluebird sky that day, along with being confident in the riders to synchronize the jump and the handplant. That's the real challenge. On the day, we went for an epic sunset session, testing the kickers and training for the moon shot. Then, when the moon was rising I went to my place 300m away, communicating via walkie-talkies. What's really amazing is that we took the shot on the second try – the photo is the result of great teamwork.
Playing with dust and light has always been one of my favorite ways to shoot mountain biking. It's such a random process, with the dust and light different in every situation. This particular section of trail was super steep and local rider, Dylan Siggers, was in his element. This was his second or third time through this section and by this try, I had figured out exactly where he would be in the frame and captured the moment as he emerged from the dust perfectly.
A crazy location in Hintertux, deep in the mountain and below the surface. The ‘nature ice palace’ is a fairy tale world inside a glacier and also contains an underground lake with -0.8°C water. Red Bull set up a crazy crew to realize the first ever wake action in such an environment. During a two-day production we managed to get a cool action shot of Dominik Hernler, who completed this challenging task like a champ. With a 6.5mm wetsuit, he didn't hesitate and was able to ride and turn in this very narrow location and under very difficult (AKA freezing) circumstances. In terms of photography, this was an extreme challenge as well, as we were facing extreme cold and moist and also very cold water. After more than three hours in the water I didn't feel anything below my waist and one of my cameras failed as well. When Dominik finally arrived and pulled the action it was also a matter of luck if I got the camera to trigger at the right moment. Such a relief to see the image pop up on my screen and get the shot. Right after this shot the camera shut down and didn't work for three days until it dried up completely.
''The shot ‘Surfmask’ is part of a series I've created with Peter Scherb in Munich in May 2020. I’ve always loved seeing Munich's Eisbach river wave surfers all over the city. That's why we joined Andi on one of his first sessions when the river wave reopened after lockdown in 2020. The shot shows him on his way to the Eisbach.''
My friends and I spent the winter of 2021 living communally in an assortment of vans and cars amidst the Buttermilk’s monstrous granite boulders in Bishop, California. Our days looked like this: wake up, drink coffee, go climb. With our bouldering season coming to a close, as the snow melted and thoughts of long Yosemite climbs loomed, Jack grew eager to test his fitness on ‘Queen of Heartbreaks’ in Pine Creek Canyon. Before tying into the sharp end Jack was clearly nervous. From the ground, the route’s 39 meters were daunting and blank. The holds remained obscured to me even as I ascended the fixed line to find the best position to shoot from. The sky darkened and the winds picked up as Jack stepped onto the climb for his onsight attempt. Questing up the blank face, Jack found a cheeky no hands rest. Doubt cleared from his face as I snapped the shot. Even as it started raining upwards, Jack cruised to the chains.
The idea of capturing this shot snuck into my mind as a side effect from a campaign I produced based on an optical illusion called ‘forced perspective’. It sounds like a pretty sophisticated technique, but it’s basically exactly what thousands of tourists do when holding the leaning Tower of Pisa, hoping to get a unique photo of their holiday in Italy. It’s very similar for most adventure and action sports photographers. It doesn’t really matter if we’re on vacation, on a shoot, or just going on a random walk through the city – our imagination recreates interesting pieces of architecture into an action sports playground. With a tool like forced perspective, I felt like I could push it a little further, bending reality and bringing the athlete into an absolutely surreal environment.
In February 2020 we traveled to Siberia with Mammut Pro Team athlete Dani Arnold for a challenging expedition above the deepest lake on earth, Lake Baikal. Siberian winters present difficult and fascinating conditions. The successful expedition involved moving from the lake’s expanse of ice, to the vertical ice wall, and opening ten new climbing routes. We found favorable conditions, challenging Dani in his favorite ice climbing area.
At this time of year, conditions are extreme, with temperatures as low as -35° Celsius; for this reason, virtually no athlete has attempted ice climbing above the deepest lake in the world. The challenge proved tough from the beginning; cold temperatures, poorly documented climbing areas, and an unknown language made the search for climbing areas very demanding, requiring a lot of energy from our team, mentally and physically. Since we could only move around the frozen lake on a hovercraft, just the search for the perfect shot proved to be a unique adventure, with technical breakdowns at nightfall, exhaustion of fuel and heating. The first steps on the ice of the lake were impressive – to see clearly through the thick ice of the deepest lake in the world was an extraordinary and absolutely unforgettable experience.
This shot was not supposed to happen. River Mutton was supposed to leave for work but decided on one last run. I had already packed my gear away by the time they walked back up from the take-out point. Once they decided being late to work was worth it, it was a mad rush back down the river with my camera. It's never a good idea to turn down a potentially fantastic photo opportunity. I didn't have time to get to my normal spot, so instead I tried this angle. All of a sudden, the light popped like I had never seen before. Straight away I knew this was going to work.