Tuesday, 8 January 2013


New Picture 39
Extreme Photo of the Week
National Geographic, 7 January, 2013.

1. Backcountry Skiing Mount Baker, Washington, USA

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“We had been shooting at Stevens Pass for a few days, getting some pretty amazing deep powder shots,” says photographer Grant Gunderson of working with skier Mark Abma at the Washington ski resort. ”But the forecast was for clearing at Mount Baker in the afternoon. We raced there and managed to get in a great sunny powder day.”

After shooting through the afternoon, Gunderson and Abma were ready to wind down for the day when they saw an opportunity. “We noticed a jump that had been built before the storm and raced to get a shot of it before the sun set fully behind the mountain.”

“It was a one shot deal,” recalls Gunderson. “My favourite part about shooting skiing is that there is no fixed schedule, you’re just out there in the mountains seeing what Mother Nature offers up. Sometimes a spontaneous decision to get the last light of the day ends up being better than all of the shots that were planned.”

Gunderson photographed using a Canon EOS-1D Mark III and a 16-35mm, f/2.8 lens.

2. Paragliding in Guatemala

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Paraglider Horacio Llorens beat the infinity tumbling world record with 568 consecutive loops over the Maya ruins of Takalik Abaj, Guatemala, on December 8, 2012.

3. Kayaking the Gol Gol River, Whitewater Grand Prix, Chile

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"Waterfalls are one of the best parts of kayaking," says 18-year-old Galen Volckhausen, the youngest competitor at the 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix, a 14-day, 5-race event that attracts 30 of the world's best kayakers and ended on December 14. Here, Volckhausen is seen training on 30-foot La Princessa, one of three drops along the Enduro race course on Gol Gol River. "Including waterfalls in a race makes it more technical," says Volckhausen. "The race is no longer about paddling as hard as you can, but about paddling as hard as you can while hitting hard lines down waterfalls and steeper sections of whitewater."

Chile was the ideal location for the event because of its many world-class whitewater rivers - some of which are in danger of being dammed for hydropower. Still, free-flowing rivers are also a big part of Chile's strong ecotourism economy. "Maipo and Futaleufu are big destinations for rafting vacations, and many other rivers draw in anglers from all over the world," notes Volckhausen. "Less important, but still relevant for us, the kayaking community could lose one of its best whitewater destinations."

Getting the Shot

"The Whitewater Grand Prix really kept me on my toes as a photographer,” says shooter Tait Trautman, who visited Chile for the first time while covering the 2012 kayaking event. “Often plans would be made to run certain rivers, then the next day, the athletes and safety team would determine the water levels were too high, and we had to find other rivers to run,” says Trautman.

Facing restricted river access, Trautman decided to find a unique angle. “I always try to incorporate something into the foreground of my images, to create more depth of field," says Trautman of the rocks on the left, right, and bottom of the image. "By doing this, you lead the viewer's eye deeper into the image and focusing on the kayaker."

Trautman photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III.

4. First Free Ascent of Centaur, Eldorado Canyon, Colorado, USA

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“The crux pitch [seen in the photo] took nine days of effort starting in late September, with an additional two or three days up there by myself finding holds, cleaning them, and just trying to decipher individual moves,” says Boulder, Colorado-based climber Chris Weidner. Weidner completed the first free ascent of the Centaur route with climbing partner Bruce Miller from ground up in six hours on November 20, 2012. Centaur, which was established as an aid route in 1967, was one of the last left in the canyon to be free climbed.

Here, Weidner is seen more than 700 feet off the deck on an overhanging plaque of sandstone. “It sure is a spectacular position," recalls Weidner, who has completed numerous first and first free ascents in the western U.S. and internationally in western Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, Iran, and Tajikistan. "The views are incredible, too, with the river, the quaint town of Eldorado Springs, and a glimpse of distant Denver with its buildings that appear so tiny.”

Getting the Shot

“Eldorado Canyon is a well established climbing area, with much of its history already written. It was exciting to witness something significant and new,” says photographer Celin Serbo. “Its setting, exposure, and history make it very aesthetic from a photographic perspective,” he recalls.

“Chris had the difficult job,” says Serbo. “I wanted to give a sense of place with this route. To get the perspective I wanted required a relatively easy scramble up an area called the East Slabs and a short rappel into Red Garden Wall. [This limited the amount of gear] I could bring with me - simplicity is nice. I wanted to shoot looking down the route, but I had recently broken three ribs in a mountain biking crash and was limited in how long I could hang in a harness," he says. "Next time!”

Serbo photographed with a Nikon D800 and 24-70mm, f/2.8 lens.

5. Surfing the Red Bull Night Riders Tow-In Contest, Flagler Beach, Florida, USA

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“The wind was blowing so hard, you could see salt in the air as it moved horizontally above the ocean,” recalls photographer Robert Snow. For the third year in a row, Snow photographed the Red Bull Night Riders Tow-In Surf contest in Flagler Beach, Florida. Rookie surfer Evan Thompson (pictured) ended up winning first place.

Bad weather was predicted for the contest day, with a 30-percent chance of rain and a hard north wind. As the sun set, rain moved in and Snow and his team protected Profoto light packs by encasing them in Tenba air cases to keep them dry. They also wrapped garbage bags around the back of the flash heads to avoid water damage. “Neither of these are recommended solutions, but we had to improvise,” says Snow.

“I found refuge down the beach under a pop-up tent so I could keep the camera dry and mist off of the front element of the 600mm lens,” Snow recalls. “The weather caused a lot of stress for my team and [me]. We had the potential of ruining about $40,000 worth of strobe-lighting equipment, not to mention the camera and lens. Luckily, we managed to keep all of the gear dry and got good photos. I'm very thankful for that.”

Snow photographed with a Canon 1Dx and a 600mm, f/4.0 lens. For lighting, Snow used Profoto 7B2R strobe kits.

6. Highlining on a Natural Arch Near Moab, Utah, USA

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"These days I don't think about much while I'm out on the line, and that's the ultimate goal," says highliner and climber Emily Sukiennik. "If your mind is racing or full of sporadic thoughts, you're going to fall." The Moab resident is seen here on a 50-foot-long highline rigged 150 feet above the ground on a natural arch just outside of town. "Sometimes I'll count my steps while focusing solely on my breathing or sometimes I'll repeat specific words to myself: breath, relax, focus, be strong. The line is a place to forget about everything and just be completely, utterly in the moment."

Getting the Shot

“This arch was beautiful to shoot,” recalls adventure photographer Krystle Wright. “Moab is such a unique place to photograph with varying desert landscapes, which is why I continue to return here.”

Wright scouted the area ahead of time to determine her strategy. “The fact that this is an arch made this shoot far more different than other shoots. I wanted to showcase the arch in the frame and with this [particular] angle. The late afternoon sun created the dramatic look we were hoping for. I always love to create depth in images,” says Wright.

Wright photographed with a Canon 5D Mark II and carried a 24mm, f/1.4 lens and a 50mm, f/1.2 lens.

[Source: National Geographic. Edited.]

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