Winners of the Red Bull illume Photo Contest 2013

Left: Finalist Christian Pondella: “Helmcken Falls, located in Wells Grey Provincial Park in British Columbia, is the fourth highest waterfall in Canada with a height of 141 meters. The water cascades over a natural amphitheater where the mist from the waterfall freezes to the overhanging and horizontal rock, creating a recent discovery for the world’s elite ice climbers. Will Gadd and Tim Emmett were the first to discover and climb this severely overhanging cave. Due to the unique way the ice clings to the rock and the ability to place bolts into the rock, Will and Tim were able to scale the frozen walls with the safety of knowing their gear would not fail. Tim Emmett is on the second pitch of “Spray On”, where the route is perfectly horizontal for about 20 meters. The climbers have cleared a path between the hanging ice daggers that encompass the cave and create a huge threat as many of them have the mass of an automobile and are extremely unstable and can randomly drop from above. When shooting this photo, I had to take extreme caution while standing underneath these free-hanging ice daggers. I wanted to show the strength required by Tim as he scaled across the roof and freeze the moment where he is hanging side by side with the ice daggers in this very unique and surreal part of the world.” Right: Ray Demski’s finalist shot of Bernd Zangerl in the Himalayas. “This image was taken during a bouldering trip to the Indian Himalayas. I used flashes to capture Bernd as he climbed this nearly 15m highball by the light of headlamps. It was some very delicate climbing and everybody held their breath in the near-freezing night. Once Bernd was down safely, I made several long exposures for the star trails and spent the rest of the night out alone to get some good options. The final image is a combination of the flash exposure with Bernd climbing, the star trails and lightpainting.”(© Christian Pondella, Ray Demski/Red Bull Illume)

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Red Bull Illume joins photographer Markus Berger on this studio shoot with Red Bull’s winter athletes. The concept was to create a set of unique action shots and portraits with a continuous theme that revealed the athletes as individuals but also part of a team. Each athlete was shot ‘in action’, sometimes using climbing ropes to hold them in place. The shoot, supported by Red Bull Creative, also included a light-hearted and experimental aspect to showcase the athlete’s individual character.

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Finalist Dimitrios Kontizas: “I never thought that at some point in my life, I would stand right at the edge of a 200-meter cliff, taking pictures of ‘crazy’ people jumping off it. But there I was in Zakynthos Island, Greece, where the 2011 ‘ProBase Shipwreck Boogie’ was taking place. Thirty BASE jumpers from all around the world had been invited to participate in this competition. This particular picture was taken right after the competition had ended, leaving all the BASE jumpers free of stress and letting them have 100% fun jumps. I had the focus point on one of the jumpers because they are the main subject in the frame. The Greek sun did what it does best, providing perfect lighting conditions for a result, I think, that is worth viewing.”

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Stuart Gibson’s photo of Sean Woolnough on a wave in Namotu Island, Fiji, was a finalist in the Spirit category. “Sean Woolnough and I were in Fiji for big swell and the wind went dead, so while we still had amazing conditions, we jumped in a Fijian long boat. This is more of a tow wave, as you can see — paddling this wave doesn’t end well. The island jetski was out of action so we thought we’d give it a go. I dropped Sean at the top of the reef, and the ocean went flat, like someone had turned off the tap. It takes a big set to light this slab up, and as Sean sat patiently I saw a big lump coming. I started yelling, but he had no reference as to where he was on the reef so he waited and paddled for this first wave of the set. He just missed it, and when I looked back, this deep blue lump just started draining out, almost sucking him under the wave. He took one big duckdive and got under the breaking lip. On a normal wave this is fine but this thing didn’t have a back — the reef drops to 200m out the back of this place so when it breaks it really folds. The wave had just too much power and sucked him back over the falls, it’s pretty much a surfer’s worst nightmare position, so many people claim this is photoshopped, but it certainly is not!”

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Finalist Krystle Wright: “Twenty-four hours before this shoot, my original paramotor pilot pulled out as his daughter had gone into labor five weeks early. A few friends and I went driving around Moab, Utah, desperately trying to find a solution. Thankfully, we came across Lyn Ottinger who happened to own the only tandem trike in town. We struck a deal and thankfully my shoot was saved! As the BASE jumpers ascended Castleton Tower, we began the motor and started to buzz around the tower. I couldn’t get clear radio contact with the jumpers and it was a little chaotic as we tried to communicate. In the end, the athletes would just jump when they were ready and it was sheer luck for me to be in position when Michael Tomchek took his 400ft leap. The shoot happened so fast that I didn’t get a chance to see my images until I was back on the ground. I am incredibly stoked with this image and it has also inspired new ideas about how I can evolve this concept even further, which I hope to make happen at the end of the year.”

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Zakary Noyle was named the winner of the Sequence category for this shot of Gabriel Medina in the surf off Oahu, Hawaii. “This was not a large day by North Shore standards but sort of a lay day. When the waves are smaller, the surfers usually go out for a surf right before the sun sets. I walked down the beach with my camera and a 70-200mm lens — I did not take a tripod, as it is easier to hand hold. I really love capturing the different elements of my surroundings, to be able to put the viewer of the image into the exact location of where I was and what I saw. By pulling the lens back, I was able to get the sand and sky, so it is almost as if someone were walking down the beach and looking over to see Gabriel doing this massive backflip.”

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Finalist David Carlier: “The lower part of Mesa Falls in Targhee National Park in Idaho is definitely a world-class spot for shooting white water and descent waterfalls. As we heard the water level was pretty high, we left Jackson Hole early that morning with two boaters, Gary Edgeworth and Eric Seymour, and a videographer to shoot with a small waterproof Nikon camera fixed on the boats. Gary went first off the massive fall, taking off from a black rock that looked like a perfect kicker. Full speed ahead, he went with the flow, taking full advantage of the energy produced by the roaring waterfall. This shot was one of the first ones I took that day and looking at the screen on my camera, I knew straight away that the position was right and there was something going on. Shooting action sports is always pretty tough as most of the time the decisive moment happens only once. There is no time for hesitation. The key is often to have a pretty precise idea of the shot you want to achieve and then move fast to find a secure location and try to anticipate the moves of the rider.”

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This image by Lorenz Holder is the Overall Winner of the 2013 contest. “I found this unique spot (in Raisting, Germany) 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!”

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Left: Lorenz Holder’s finalist image of Benny Urban in Oberschleissheim, Germany. “I had the idea to shoot a snowboard waterslide from underneath the surface a couple of years back, but I found out pretty fast that it wasn’t as easy as I thought. After several tries, I knew that I would have to go down into the water myself. So I rented water-housing and diving equipment and went to a pretty perfect location in Munich, Germany for the shoot. The idea was to shoot upwards where the rider would be, in the so-called ‘Snell’s window’. Looking upwards underwater, this is the circular area of light on the surface caused by refraction of light entering the water. In my image you can see the rider and the sky through that window. In other parts of the surface this effect takes place and mirrors the underwater world. The communication with the rider was also a bit difficult, because we both were in two different worlds and we could not just raise our hands when both of us were ready. But in the end, everything turned out way better than I expected!” Right: Olaf Pignataro, finalist in the Playground category. “After waiting for the town to go to sleep and for the streets to empty, Stefan Lantschner climbed down a rope into the hole of the ancient bridge Ponte Pietra in Verona, Italy. Using the same rope, crew members lowered down his BMX, and Stefan began to ride the giant full pipe. Some tourists noticed the flashes coming from the bridge, but Stefan was lucky enough to climb up without getting caught by the police after a short session. Ponte Pietra is a Roman arch bridge crossing the Adige River and was completed in 100 BC.”

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Vince Perraud’s image of Luc Legrand was a finalist in the Sequence category. “The great magazine ‘The Albion’ asked me to follow Frenchman Luc Legrand for an article, and we arranged to spend a week on the road all across Spain, living in his van. Luc loves to ride in unique locations even if they are not easy. He remembered a crazy set-up around the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and we found it again. I was not used to shooting sequences but I thought it would work for this one. I also thought shooting fisheye from below would really capture the movement. After a couple of run-ups, he just did it first go, and I was really happy to catch it first go too!”

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Benjamin Ginsberg’s shot of Bobby Okvist high above the Wedge, in Newport Beach, California, was named a finalist. “Surfer Bobby Okvist and I started with a simple plan: to hunt down the largest waves of the swell. Hoping for an evening glass-off, we ventured back to the Wedge for our third session of the day. Exhausted from battling massive waves and long hikes from the previous sessions, I decided to stay dry and shoot from the beach. Shooting at this location often, I knew I wanted to set up far down the beach at an extreme angle, looking into any potential barrels, with the sun as far to my back as possible, and the cliffs of Newport Coast/Crystal Cove as a backdrop. A crowd of photographers in my favorite spot pushed me even further down the beach. Adding to the challenge, it was nearing sunset. Light was getting both less and more acutely angled, creating shadows within the wave face and bright highlights elsewhere. First wave out, Bobby was in position for the largest peak of the day. The wave was breaking so far out that when the refracted energy peaked, it crumbled. The wave chased Bobby towards shore, only to heave over and start barreling in the shallow water where a wave usually first breaks. Without enough speed to make it back to shore, and the wave violently closing in behind him, Bobby carved up the face and aired off the back, shocking even himself at the height he flew.”

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Ryan Taylor, finalist in the Illumination category: “Every year in northern Wisconsin, cranberries are grown and harvested in the late fall. Unknown to some people, cranberries are grown dry, and it is only during harvesting that the fields are flooded. This allows the berries to float to the surface for ease of harvesting, creating a large sea of red. This uncharted territory seemed almost impossible to ride, until the invention of the winch. This image of Ben Horan carving through a cranberry field was a photo that I had wanted to shoot for a long time. I was finally able to do it in October 2012, when the Red Bull Winch Sessions crew asked me to tag along once again and shoot stills as well as some video. On the morning that this photo was taken, we awoke to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. By the time we started shooting, the snow had melted but the temperatures were still close to freezing. Knowing how unique the image would be, Ben (as well as everyone else involved) was still willing to put the time and effort into riding. It was a long hard week of shooting, but this particular shoot will definitely go down as one of my most unique shoots to date.”

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At the Red Bull Illume exhibition opening in Scottsdale, world-class sports photographer Scott Markewitz hosted a one-hour live-action photo shoot. Markewitz shot the Super Cr3w b-boys using the new broncolor Move power packs and lighting equipment to illuminate the breakdance crew, Markewitz was able to share some of his lighting techniques and demonstrate how to creatively capture the perfect action shots. 
“broncolor has always made great lighting equipment, and the Move pack is by far the best battery operated strobe system I’ve ever worked with. There’s no other system that gives you the power, speed, consistency and control of the Move pack.” – Thank you Scott.

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