Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Behind the Scenes | Volleyball Sports Photography | Red Bull Intracoastal Beach Affair

Red Bull Intracoastal Beach Affair
The Importance of "Bringing Everything" ... and that too... just in case.

Joana Heidrich showing off the proper curve of the jump serve during the Red Bull Intracoastal Beach Affair with the Beach Major Volleyball Series.
A few weeks back Bradlee Rutledge and I headed down to Fort Lauderdale, FL to shoot a promotional media release for the Beach Major Series and Red Bull.  We were set to shoot the Red Bull Swiss Olympic team of Anouk Verge-Depre | Joana Heidrich and USA based team of Casey Patterson | Stafford Slick.  The overall idea of the series was to show the athletes playing on a private beach volleyball court along the intracoastal waters Fort Lauderdale is known for.
Joana Heidrich contemplating if this will be the last "one more" while serving  up jump serves  of the crew.

As per usual Red Bull fashion we gad to create a few story telling images of the event as well as a few athlete profile images and portraits for Red Bull Content Pool.  The day was suppose to be sunny and cloud free as usual for the coastal city.  With the more natural look in mind I packed up all my reflectors and shiny boards to shot sequences with a evenly natural lit look.  I ended up packing a few Elinchrome battery packs with the Indirect Octa modifier for the portraits and lifestyle images.   At the last minute I decided to Bring 4 of the Elinchrom ELC Pro HD's just in case the sun would be in the wrong spot for the sequences.

The main action images of Joana Heidrich, Anouk Verge-Depre, Stafford Slick, and Casey Patterson.

A very long story short we ended up with almost no boats on the water in the background including the pre set up sail boat teams due to "severe weather."  We were completely surrounded by the usual black afternoon thunderstorms for almost the entire time, except of the little blue patch that you see in every photo.  The court ended up being completely lit by the Elinchrom ELC Pro HDs as far away and high as I could put them for the natural lighting look.   The ELC's were powered by Honda EU200's spoke they could recycle for the strobe sequences.  We also ended up setting up another location with the Elinchrom Ranger inside of the Indirect light bank for the lifestyles.  I left the set up the entire time so we could bounce back and forth with each athlete as the father changed and keep a constant look for all of them.

The Gear:
Nikon Camera Systems

Chris Garrison lounging while Casey Patterson gets his social on of Stafford Slick.  Also a BTS of the gear used. 

The shoot was amazingly fun and a great experience playing some volleyball on the Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal water way.  Of course we had to do the image selection and immediate media release with or without "Man Margs" at the goto Rocco's Tacos on Las Olas!  

NO FLEX ZONE with Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick

Check out a few of the select images/BTS video also at THIS LINK created by the Beach Major Series from the shoot below and always remember the importance of .. "if you think you may want it, just go ahead and bring it, plus an extra!"

BTS video and Link to Video in HD HERE

Joana Heidrich fully extending for the boys

Casey Patterson ... Who did it better?
Stafford Slick ... Who did it better?
Casey Patterson setting on cup for his new sunglasses adverting campaign

Anouk Verge-Depre warming up with Joana Heidrich 
Stafford Slick warming up
Stafford Slick and Casey Patterson contemplating their next social post
Rules of beach volley ball, who hits the ball in must go get the ball, unless the locals come save the day
Locals showing Casey Patterson prop serving form 
Anouk Verge-Depre showing the boys how to crank one down the line 
Joana Heidrich sendung singles to the captain to swoop her up
Chris Garrison and Casey Patterson talking swing form training for the Beach Major  Series 
Chris Garrison Laying down on the job one more time

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Event Photography | Red Bull Flugtag Nashville, Tennessee

    Flugtag (noun)

1.  Flightday

     Wikipedia Red Bull of Flugtag: "The format was originally invented in Selsey, a small seaside town in the south of England under the name "Birdman Rally" in 1971.  The first Red Bull Flugtag competition was held in 1991 in Vienna, Austria. It was such a success that it has been held every year since and in over 35 cities all over the world.  Anyone is eligible to compete in the Flugtag event. To participate, each team must submit an application and their contraption must meet the criteria set forth by Red Bull. The craft must be powered by muscle, gravity, and imagination. Because the aircraft will ultimately end up in the water, it must be unsinkable and constructed entirely of environmentally friendly materials. Teams that enter the competition are judged according to three criteria: distance, creativity, and showmans"

     I have been lucky enough to cover multiple Flugtag events almost ever year I have been working with Red Bull.  If you have not had to chance to witness the crafts attempt to fly or at least see a re-cap video, I would encourage you to check one out.  Every team at the even puts so much work into their craft, costume, and skits.  Between the teams enthusiasm, skits, and attempts to fly it is so hard for me to pick a favorite moment.  Red Bull FLugtag is favorite event of the year, and I am so happy to be invited back every time.

    Below are a few images from Red Bull Flugtag this past week in Nashville, Tennessee!  I am always voted to be the guy in the water for most of the day, and I was extremely happy on the decision this year. The tempuratures were reaching well over 100 degrees on the deck!  The river did have a strong current that helped me get a few miles of paddling in place in the entire day.

A few of the teams just before launching off the deck

Some of the Action from the deck and on the water

And Finally the Podium of the top 3 competitors

Monday, October 9, 2017

Shooting Roller Coasters at Sea World | #BTS Behind the Scenes

Why to Always be Prepared for the Unexpected

Final Hero Image of the all new Mako rollercoaster at Sea World Orlando

    SeaWorld Orlando has always been a very special place for me. I can remember going to the park as little kid back in the, dare I say 90’s and having the time of my life.

    Now the park brings me back at an almost monthly basis with my wife to feed dolphins, ride roller coasters, and watch our all time favorite/largest performer, Tilikum, at one of the numerous “Shamu” shows through the year.
Park guests aboard the new Mako RollerCoaster at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, United States
    I was beyond excited when given the opportunity to shoot a few campaigns within the park! For the first shoot I had to capture a single image of the new roller coaster, Mako, with full attendance on board! I would be shooting in the morning before the park opened and only get 3 passes to get the money shot!

    "Let me also mention the fact I would have to be sure that 24 people would have to look perfect while hitting a bank at 70+ miles per hour."

Park guests aboard the new Mako RollerCoaster at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, United States

    After an initial scouting day and being shown the limited area we could shoot in, I decided on the one and only location that had the look they were going for. For overall image quality I decided to use the PhaseOne to get the best overall look for shooting backlit in the morning with a little added fill light from 3 Elinchrom Rangers. 
    Because of the amount of people that had to look perfect and I would only be taking one frame, I planned on using my Induro 3 series tripod to at least keep the angles the same for post editing reasons. 
    I also wanted to have a backup angle that would also be set up on burst mode that I brought along the Nikon D800 with Induro 2 series tripod. This way I could shoot with the PhaseOne and remotely trigger the Nikon to get two separate images.
Nikon D800 and PhaseOne IQ250 remote camera setups

Find the Elinchrome Rangers

    On the arrival morning the secondary client surprised me with a shot list that had three different locations on it. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I would only get one chance for everyone to look perfect at each location on the roller coaster.
    Luckily I did the “just in case” packing job and had a few extra Nikon cameras and Induro tripods that were originally going to be used for the Elinchrom Rangers set up.
    My assistant and I ended up setting up 2 other remote camera that were on the same receiver channel as the back up Nikon D800. I would be shooting through the Phaseone view finder as I was manually triggering a remote that would be triggering all the other cameras on set.
"This way the client would get all 3 angles covered, and I would be getting 3 chances to get the hammer shot from every angle."
A map of our camera positions and overall set up for this shoot

    An added benefit of the cameras being securely mounted in place on the Induro tripods, is the ability to easily edit the images and pick out and replace a few of the people in every shot to get the perfect image for the client (being able to swap out someone’s face covered in hair).
    This was a lifesaver for me with the turn around time, as I also had to fully change out the sky in every shot because it was unexpectedly cloudy and over cast that morning.
Original image without post-production

Final image with sky added in post-production

"This was a perfect reminder of the importance of always being prepared for the unexpected, even on a well-planned shoot. Bringing the few extra back ups ended up making the shoot smoother, professional looking for the main client, and possibly saving the shoot."
    As an added bonus after the shoot I was able to shoot a few images of the "performers from Sea Worlds "Clyde and Seamore's Sea Lion High"  This was the highlight of my entire day!  We got 15 minutes with the models and sea lion to capture a few additional images for summer time advertising.  With how well the sea lions are trained we were able to knock the images out in no time and get a few extra minutes to hang with the sea lions and get a few selfies!
Hero Image form Sea World's Clyde and Seamore Sea Lion High shoot.
Behind the scenes of the clyde and seamer sea lion high shoot.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Un-Covered | Japan with Shota Tezuka for Wakeboarding Magazine #BTS

A journey Unknown

    This is my story of the a journey undergone years ago to get the perfect image in a country that I have never been to or even know the language.  This entire journey to the final outcome has been one of the most memorial experces of my life.  I could not ask to change any of the high or lows!  There were so many people that I have met along the way that took me under their wings and showed me their country and culture that I may never get to experience on that level again.


    Print has always been the center of excitement of my action sports career.  Something about opening a magazine and seeing a photo that and athlete and I worked is surreal.  Cliche to say but the most coveted prize for me has always scoring a cover.  But when a phone call comes in saying that I got the cover of the photo annual, there is a whole new level of excitement; especially with an image that I have chased for over 3 years.  The below image is one of the images produced for the 2017 Wakeboarding Magazine Surf Expo/Photo Annual! I can not ask for a better spot for this location to be showcased.

    A little inside history on me; my first ever cover was the Alliance Wake photo annual!  I was lucky enough to have my man Garret Cortese give me that first opportunity that helped launch my motivation to push my self to photographer of the year the following year.

    Ounce again Garret reached out to me, this time from his former competitive magazine that he is now editor of!  He told me that my image with Shota Tezuka had been selected of the cover of the Surf Expo issue.  Garret then proceeded to explain that this would be his first magazine redesign as well as photo annual!  I could not have been more shocked and excited at the same time.  Garret has ben the one that pushed me in the past to get me to where I am at, and I can not thank him enough for producing my favorite cover of all time with the new mag!

In the Making

    A lot always goes into getting the hammer shot for the cover of a magazine.  But I always thought that dropping a straight emoji onto the front page would be pretty impressive.  3 years ago I went to Japan with Shota Tezuka to shoot a previous cover of Mt Fuji in the winter seen below.  Little did I know this would be the beginning to a drive to come back several times a year to immerse my self in the culture and find a way to make the perfect spot Shota and I had found work.  As I write this I also just realized that Fuji is another emoji, so I am 2 for 2 on dropping emojis on covers from Japan!

  The original cover was actually shot on our first of 7 days on location on Lake Yamanaka at the Base of Mt Fuji.  Our man Spencer Smith was coming over to film a TV spot for Shota called "I am Showtime" that week, so needless to say I got a lot of fun time in with the boys traveling around and exploring the area!
    If you do not know about the Yamanaka area;  I would break it down as the Great Smokey Mountains of Japan, except with one of the most recognizable mountains in the world.

 Our Dock next to the cabin in the woods
Our home base for the week
 Local fisherman coming in at sunrise in front of Mt Fuji
 The Chureito Pagoda overlooking Mt Fuji
They don't call it Swan Lake for no reason
 Daytime Wakeboarding was had
And Sunset almost freezing Temps wakeboarding was had
Shota loves the cold
Shota dad serving it up right as his restaurant in Yamanaka, Japan

    In good action sports fashion, we had to go out in Tokyo and celebrate getting the hammer shot as well as explore some of the blooming Sakura (Cherry Blossom) around Tokyo!

 Shota Tezuka checking out the Sakura in Tokyo
Possibly the busiest street in the world
Just one more we said

One More Time!

    I made several other trips over to Japan to work out a few locations and yet again explore the country.  I even made a 24 hour trip one time to capture some of the cherry blossoms in front of the imperial palace and meet up with the crew at Red Bull Japan to make the project I had in mind happen.

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan

    A very long story short, Shota hit me up and said we have a green light and everything is dialed to get us down to a Tori on Lake Biwa we had found several years ago.  There was only one catch, I would have to come over for about 2 weeks!  Needless to say I booked my flight that same night!

    After staying the first night in Tokyo our journey brought us back to Yamanaka for a few days to try and get some warm weather riding in front of the mountain.  The weather was super cloudy and we spent most of out time riding bikes around the lake, dialing in the shots we wanted to get in Lake Biwa. We made a decision to go back to Tokyo for a night to kick it before heading down south to my new favorite city, Kyoto.

    Upon arrival to Kyoto were were picked up by my "professional" boat driver and non english speaking friend Macaroni!  We spent several days in the city exploring the sites and getting an unreal tour of the some of the temples in the area including the Kiyoumizu Temples with the Son of the Temple!

Bento and Bullet Train?

 Pick by Macaroni up at Kyoto station!  Stacks on Stacks
Mellow coffee stop at % Arabica (The number one Master Latter Maker in the world resides here)

The Crew with the son of the temple in Kyoto
Bamboo Forest and Chill?
The map of the endless shinto shrines in Kyoto, they are a lot longer than I ever thought
Shota Tezuka sizing up the Shinto Shrines

Getting the Shot

    The entire two week journey came down to and single 10 minute session at the 8pm sunset and another 430 am sunrise session the next day!  We ended up battle some heavy waves on our hour long lake crossing.  After all Laka Biwa is the largest body of water in Japan.  We fought off massive fishing boats, bad weather, and a protractor of angles that just did not want to work.  Just when we though nothing else could have been against us on the shoot, we may or may not have had a few engine problems.

The crew on Deck and Ready!

    When all was said and done the entire crew came together with hand signals and sounds of excitement when the shot was made; after all, none spoke english except Shota!

    The final image was shot from them shore of the Shirahige Shrine, a 1,900 year old structure that defines the area!  Shota and I had to use hand signals to "drop' him into the right spot on the wake to get him the in the perfect center of the Tori.  I was also shooting with 3 Elinchrom rangers to light the area and shota.  So we only has a handful of chances as well as one frame per try.  

Final Image for the Cover of Wakeboarding Magazine

Send angle Option for the Cover


        This is one of my favorite images from may history of shooting wakeboarding.  It has so many meaning behind the cover.  It represents a couple year long journey into the heart of a country that I thought I would never see, and is a perfect reprensatatinon of Shota Tezuka's home country.  

    The Shirahige Shrine literal translation is "White Beard."  They say all who cross under the Tori will have longevity, a prosperous business, and better luck.  There is also mention of a baby and match making but I may have skipped over that section :).  I love the fact that everyone gets the chance to cross that Tori when they open the Magazine and be blessed with a longer more prosperous future!.