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Red Bull X-Alps – the world’s toughest adventure race

Antoine Girard (FRA2) - Action
The Red Bull X-Alps is the world’s toughest adventure race. It’s a bold claim – but one it surely deserves. It’s difficult to think of another race that demands such a high level of fitness and technical skill – or lasts so long.

That also implies that photographing such an event is special in many ways. Photographers that follow this race have to be well trained and fit enough to run up and down mountains with heavy load. In an ideal case they are also able to fly a glider to chase the athletes even in the air for some unique angles and documentary.

The photography team for this event consisted of 6 (partly even 8) photographers in total and everybody assigned with a special task. In my case I was spending 4 days of shooting with the athletes from the week before the race until the actual start and first peak and take off.

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For such a big event there are usually preshoots to produce content that will be used in the communication before, throughout and after the event, not only by media but also for sponsors and commercial purposes. Therefore the tasks can vary big time from simple documentation of details to commercial shots.

In my case I was assigned to take similar head shots of each athlete before the race to have consistent images on the website, for communication or in media. Since athletes in this period before the race are tough to get hold off I built a small light set with my Move and Para 88 within the camping site of the athletes and just grabbed them as they passed along.

I was also shooting a helicopter flight to get news shots of Red Bull X-Alps in connection with well known monuments in Slazburg.We had two athletes with us in the helicopter and they actually jumped out above the most recognizable sight which is the castle „Festung Hohensalzburg“. After that they flew across the old town and performed crazy tricks to get even more appealing action in the shots.


Moreover I was assigned for documentation of the start and the prologue which was a prerace before the actual start. In order to do a good job there you have to be active and get different angles that tell the story but also incorporate all the necessary sponsors in a natural way. That means you have to run and hike a lot and mostly switch fast between two cameras all the time. There are many things on your shotlist to think about that sometimes it can limit you in your creativity but also this is also a good challenge and makes you really focused at the same time. Crucial for event documentation is the delivery and workflow after the event. Of course everything also in high end quality and perfect metadata. Usually within one hour after the event has ended you should be able to deliver a handful of shots perfectly processed and with flawless metadata.

Shooting Red Bull X-Alps was a great experience for me and to be close in at such a cool event with those amazing athletes can not get any better. The spirit of this event is very unique and it truly is an adventure also for the photographers joining in this race. Moving and living and breathing nature in and out and giving your best everyday to the full extend makes this event special. Also you never know where you end up at the beginning of the day – it could very well be the top of a mountain, running through the woods at night or soaring through the air…. for sure you’ll face some kind of adventure.

More BLOG post about Sports Photographer Markus Berger:
Shooting Editorial Sports and Commercial Photography – Case: Airstreeem
The other Look with UV light – Ice Climbing Shoot with Markus Berger
Easy handling and fast recycling times – Move, “Colours” & Marcel Hirscher
Markus Berger creates multiple looks with Beauty Dish and Move

About Markus Berger
I am a photographer from Austria specialized in action sports and commercial Photography. I have a sports freestyle background and like to bring that into photography. I strive to capture images that are creative but at the same time authentic and true. I like to embrace my inner child and take every shoot as new exciting challenge.

http://bergermarkus.com/

Experience a Different Perspective – Campaign for Deakin University

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I was an Art Director for 13 years at numerous Melbourne advertising agencies. During my first two years as an art director I studied photography at night as I was keen to learn how to shoot but I also needed to learn how to brief a photographer and know a bit more about how they worked and how they brought concepts to life.

I continued shooting on and off but about 6 years ago I started to shoot a lot more. Any spare time as an art director was spent shooting or studying. I would shoot live bands a couple of nights a week and then at work I would constantly be shooting portraits of other creatives. Basically I would shoot during any spare time I had. After a while I was asked by creatives at a couple of other ad agencies to shoot their work. I would take annual leave holidays from my job to go and shoot their ads. No one knew I was doing it and after a while I finally decided to quit art direction and become a full time photographer. I’ve been shooting full time for just over two years now and I’m very happy with the decision.

The Deakin University Campaign

This job was a new campaign for Deakin University under the title, Experience A Different Perspective. The Art Director behind the campaign, Mikey Tucker from The Royals agency, was after something that not only communicated the idea but also had a really strong look. The client hadn’t done a lot of photography based campaigns in the past but they really believed in the idea from The Royals and they’re rapt with how the campaign has turned out.

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Challenges

The biggest challenge for the shoot was probably the restricted time, we had to shoot 12 shots in two days. Fortunately Mikey and I had a two day recce at the two different Deakin University campuses. We found about 16 locations or concepts to shoot, then chose our 12 preferred. Having this time with the art director searching for locations and how they would work was a huge help for the shoot days.

After the recce I spent a lot of time going over the final shot list preparing lighting diagrams, thinking about where the sun would be and what the talent could be doing. I probably over prepared but it made the shoot days a lot easier. The shoot days went really well. There was a team of 13 people which inlcuded myself, 4 talent, 2 assistants, a producer, hair and make up artist, stylist, account director, client and art director. Everyone worked so well as a team with no stress on set. We also had luck with the weather too, it only rained once for about 20 minutes.

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Why I work with broncolor and what I like about the gear?

I was introduced to broncolor from the guys at SunStudios in Melbourne. I tested a Move Kit for a shoot and I was sold. The quality and consistency of light is incredible. I also like the fact they have a huge amount of power. The kit is so simple to set up, adjust and pack up. As stupid as this sounds another factor for me was that it all came in a small backpack with wheels.

For my larger commercial jobs I work with assistants but for a lot of band portrait work, it’s just me. There’s always very limited time and I have to be able to carry the kit plus other gear to any location necessary. So ease of use, consistant output and being able to trust the kit is a massive factor for me. Also, 90% of my work is location based and now having two kits means I’m prepared for just about anything.

Producer: Cecelia Bedford Stylist: Anthony Jarvis. Hair & MakeUp: Lisa Sherry Art Director: Mikey Tucker

Photographer: http://www.jayhynes.com/

The Light, the World, the Move & Para 88 – Western Wedding and Chinese Cultural

Bild1H5D-50C, focal length:24mm, Aperture: f9.5, speed:1/250s, ISO:200

This wedding scene-shot-on-location is sponsored by Pronovias. They wanted to create a work combined with Western wedding and Chinese cultural architecture. We choosed Beijing as our scene location since Beijing, as the cultural gathering capital of China, remains the most numbered of places of historic interest and scenic beauty. Rather than simply gaining the pursuit of external shooting form, we boldly invite foreign models to show the Chinese internal beauty, intriguing people’s curious, interest and at the same time creating a sharp visual contrast. We use large number of Chinese cultural representative stage props: blue and white porcelain accessories, traditional Chinese painting tattoos, Beijing opera types of facial makeup, famous Chinese painting <Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival>, Chinese calligraphy instruments, etc.

We choosed Royal Ancestral Temple, Wild Great Wall, Tian Mo Bei and Huai Rou movie Studios.

The problems were:

1) Our shooting team will cross five hundred kilometers, shooting the scenes, recording the videos, and constantly changing four different shooting locations through crowd traffic. Those all led to a stressful and tight schedule. We need one light which has a focus and easy to setup and convenient to adjust in order to avoid the use of many sophisticated lighting.

2) Beijing haze makes poor visibility. We need highly-qualified light to balance the picture, ensuring a clear Scene

3) The team needs to walk across fifteen beacon towers to arrive the destination in the Wild Great Wall, which means we need lighten our loads. We need a small sized power unit that can constantly sustain electricity.

4) Besides the large power, we need the power unit to be stably manipulated, highly precise and triggered in long distance when we conduct Portraits and Scene shooting in large shooting locations.


Fortunately, Bron’s Move Set and Para 88 perfectly solved the previous problems.



SCENE 1 – ROYAL ANCESTRAL TEMPEL

Bild9H5D-50C, Focal Length: 150 mm, Aperture: F8, Speed: 1/250x, ISO 200

Bild11The model stands in the backlighting, and in order to avoid light reflection formed on the hand banisters, we adjust the focus of Para 88 to gather as much light as possible to form perfect light on the model’s face. [more…]

Twan Van Gendt Portrait by Rutger Pauw – BMX Training for Olympics at Papendal

Rutger Pauw

The Twan Van Gendt photo was shot at Papendal, which is the dutch national training centre for top athletes.

They have a full sized olympic BMX race track, where Twan is currently training for the 2016 olympics. I got asked to shoot a portfolio for him, and one of the shots was a portrait on top of the start hill, with just a Para88 lighting him up.

I rarely shoot black and white, but this time it worked out well, I love the light on his face. It’s so easy to spot light with the Para, i like very local light, so it’s an easy fast way to work in the field.


About Rutger Pauw
I
grew up around Rotterdam, a city that today is known as one of the better places to ride street BMX in. Thirteen years ago when I started riding BMX I could have never imagined that I’d be living in London now, travelling all over, working with the coolest people I’ve ever met. I also wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be shooting photos of the people I saw in magazines back then. It’s been quite an interesting journey when I think of it now. The difference between riding bikes and photography isn’t all that big, I think. Even when shooting all the other sports, you meet the same kind of determination, and the same amount of fun.

BLOGS
Rutger Pauw talks about freezing Sew Kroetkov’s Tricks – #SewasSequence
Wings For Life World Run “Running for those who can’t” – Photo: Rutger Pauw
Red Bull Campus Cricket’s International Tournament – Portraits and Lightpainting
Learn how to combine flash light and continuous light to get Motion
Impressions of broncolor workshop “Move around Hong Kong” and more

Shooting Editorial Sports and Commercial Photography – Case: Airstreeem

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I am shooting editorial sports and also commercial campaigns for big clients. In sports photography in general I always try to capture authentic action to please not only the athlete but also the core target groups of my client.

When it comes to commercial projects though you have to change your game a little bit in order to achieve a desired look or style in the picture to attract people and generate interest. Of course the main subject or action must always be credible but you might not be able to take the risk and shoot it outside.

It is important to understand how commercial shoots work. Usually there is a assigned creative team coming up with a detailed concept that involves already all the necessary ingredients for the final look and feel. That would involve for example colors, perspective, expression and many other dynamics that need to be considered to produce the perfect image that transports all the emotion the client wishes for. Sometimes photographers get hired at an early stage to give their inputs already within the creation process and sometimes photographers get hired at the very last moment and simply to recreate what creatives have made up in their minds.

Either way as a commercial photographer you need to be able to A work with agencies and creative concepts and B also be able to discuss and bring in your own vision to the table. For me personally results are never going to get as good if you don’t believe in a project 100%. That is why I usually try to communicate and understand as much as possible about the idea and also most importantly give my feedback and inputs from both a creative and a production point of view.

In terms of production commercial shoots can get quite complex because of the certain look to be created and usually there is also big budgets involved plus there are always tight deadlines. That is why most of the times you end up planning shoots for the studio and compose everything later in Photoshop. In most of the cases it is a economic decision to shoot action in the studio since there is no room or budget to take high risks of shooting actually outdoor. Of course it is also determining a certain look that is considered to be high end commercial – sharp and crisp action shots in perfect environment with perfect light. All this perfection in the image is actually unreal and hardly to achieve in one image.

In the example shown here I have done a small commercial shoot for a local austrian bike manufacturer „Airstreeem“. They produce highly technical and top notch race bikes and they wanted to have that also captured in a key visual for their catalogue.

We decided to treat this image like a car shooting and get the dynamics and speed maximized as much as possible but still real. We came up with several different mock ups to present to the client and finally a certain look and environment has been decided upon.

Once we had the background locked in we prepared for our studio shoot that was done in a showroom close to the athletes home to save time. First we took care about the perspective which is probably the most tricky part. We placed and replaced the bike over and over again until we were happy and finally found a position that fit the vanishing points of our background image perfectly.
LightingSetup
In order to recreate the look of the background image and to actually make the bike and the athlete fit perfectly in the environment we had to adjust our lights very carefully and take several test shots to do rough mock ups on the computer and change then the lights accordingly.

Commercial Photography – Examples

At this stage it is more about the direction and quality of light and shadows and creating the right highlights on your subject to make it fit. I used the Para88 as a main light placing it as a soft short light in front of the bike. I had one small softbox as a fill light to be sure to have enough texture on the black frame. To simulate the tunnel light and to create highlights on the athlete I placed two rim lights – one from the back and one little higher up. Color temperature was something I didn’t care about at all since all colors were supposed to be shifted in postproduction anyway. Basically you have to make sure to shoot quite flat trying not to loose clipping blacks or whites in your raw file already. Once we were happy with the light direction we started shooting the overall image. We shot the action first static but still with leg movement so you can actually see the tension in the legs. After we had done the main shot we took the athlete off the bike and shot each wheel with different longer exposures to have options for different speeds in postproduction.

After that was done the images went to a postproduction company (michaelramhardter.com) – there they fixed the bike together with the background. Slight perspective corrections, new shadows, motion blur, partial motion blurs on the background, image style, color correction, highlights and shadows and high end retouch have been done. Check the short video for a rough overview on the Photoshop layers. Definitely the result could not be the same if the light would not have been set accordingly already at the studio shoot. There are many steps in the production of a photo and there should not be any compromises in any of them if you aim for the highest Quality.

Photographer Markus Berger
http://bergermarkus.com/

Art Basel’s Photographers Team – Using Scoro Power to capture “Art”

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Art Basel stages the world’s premier Modern and contemporary art shows, held annually in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong. Founded by gallerists in 1970, Art Basel has been a driving force in supporting the role that galleries play in the nurturing of artists, and the development and promotion of visual arts.

Interview with Andreas Zimmermann and Peter Hauck

During Art Basel, what are your main responsibilities?
We are the official Photography Team of Art Basel and serve as the contacts for all international galleries exhibiting at the show. Besides us, there is one other photographer, one one communication Manager and two Assistant. We are all independent photographers working together as a cooperative during Art.

Our duties encompass on the one hand classical Reproduction Photography for uses by the Galleries but also general documentation of all the booths present at Art for their own Archives.

What are the challenges during this rather hectic week?
The main challenge is to stay organized. Luckily we have a very thoroughly planned schedule in place where everyone always knows exactly where she or he has to be at a certain time. Architectural conditions are another reality we have to face. A painting for example might not always hang perfectly centered on a wall. There might be not enough space available to get enough distance as well. That’s when we have to work with a lot of indirectlighting and wide lenses. Luckily, with four Scoros at our disposal we get enough power to get the artworks fully lit.

Speaking of the Scoro, what kind of lighting equipment did you mainly use?
We had four Scoros with up to eight lights for bigger pieces, splitted for two photographic teams. It’s the kind of power you need when working in big exhibition halls like the one we have in Basel plus we had Polarization Filters on our lenses which took away even more light so we really had to rely on the power of the 3200 Scoros.

What were your experiences working with broncolor Equipment?
We both are long-time broncolor users, since our training as photographers to be specific which also kind of answers the question right away. The key word is reliability. Most photographers we know purchased their broncolor gear when they were starting out in the business and still use it to this day. You just know that you can count on a piece of technology like the Scoro. It’s immensely powerful, robust and delivers the quality we need. In a situation like a an exhibition, where you can have up to four, five shoots a day and sometimes work all-nighters there is really no room for your tools to break down so having broncolor gear as a trusty partner at your side reallymakes life a whole lot easier.

With the kind permission of the following Galleries, we can present you some end results and behind the scenes from the photographic work at Art Basel:

Gallery GOODMAN
Image 1: Sculpture on mirrored base . Main light: Softbox . To have a beautiful gradient on the mirror, a paper roll in the background was added.
Image 2: Sculpture made of ropes. Main light: Softbox. Due to the additional lighting environment the sculpture could be visually moved into the center and got a very artistic look.

[more…]

Felix Rachor’s Fashion Photography & Fotomania: Workshops, Seminars, Coaching

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Please tell us about yourself
I am a (relatively) young photographer from Berlin. Born in Austria and via some detours (I have moved 19 times), I landed in my studio in Berlin where I now work as a fashion, beauty and celebrity photographer. What I love is that my jobs are very different. I photograph campaigns for clients like JOOP!, Labello and Sony BMG: I shoot for magazines such as WOMAN, ELLE, Gala and Stern editorials and similar jobs, and am always pleased when I can shoot covers for personalities like HaPe Kerkeling, Ingo Appelt or Uwe Ochsenknecht.

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However, also close to my heart is my baby, the fotomafia.org where I offer workshops, online seminars, training, coaching, or even seven-day master classes for photographers. We have now developed into a very high-quality training platform which is used by many beginners, but also some professionals, too.

Why broncolor?
I always need absolutely reliable technology. As silly as this may sound, but if a flash is too slow, or a “sparky” does not trigger, it really is a disaster on the set. This is why I am always so happy to work with powerful generators and faster and easier technologies. [more…]

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