IFSC Bouldering World Cup Vail

I started getting into climbing on a trip to Colorado during my sophomore year of high school. A few of my friends and I were planning on hitting the downhill mountain biking course in Breckenridge, however it just continued to rain throughout the day. Instead of hanging around inside, we opted for climbing at the local rec center. Needless to say I became hooked pretty quickly, building my own bouldering wall back at home when we returned from our trip.

Ever since high school I've been watching the IFSC sport, speed, and bouldering world cups via the internet. Something about them just got me psyched. Maybe it was the competitive nature of the events, the fascination of the athletes, or even my desire to be like them. Regardless, I never missed watching any of them.

When I received my media pass to shoot the event, I almost couldn't believe it. While I had been watching the athletes compete, I was watched the photographers as well. Constantly eyeing up the walls and angles from which interesting photographs could be taken. Actually shooting the event was an entirely different story. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to (hopefully) shoot a few more of these world cups in the future. 

A Weekend at Shelf Road

Spent this past weekend at Shelf Road outside of Canon City, Colorado and it was absolutely insane. The canyon and landscape was quite beautiful and the climbing was even better. Nothing like some good ol' sharp as hell limestone. While climbing was the main objective of the group, mine veered off a bit, more towards the photography side of things. The plan was to finally begin to learn the process of jugging up fixed lines and top ropes to be able to photograph climbers (friends) from interesting angles.

For the most part it was a success, however I still need to really hone in my jugging skills, gear management, and anchor building. To say the least, I'd get to my position ( VERY slowly) after jugging up a line and take a good five minutes to get my gear all sorted out and begin shooting. I figure I can reduce that time to around 20-30 seconds, while still putting safety as the main priority. Currently pretty psyched for the future possibilities that will come from jugging and shooting.

In case anybody is interested, the gear and system I used for jugging is as follows: Petzl left-hand ascender, SMC crevasse pulley, Petzl grigri 2, webbing tied for a footloop, and about three screw locking carabiners. I'll make a post in the future regarding the setup and jugging methods for photography, I just feel as if I need to practice quite a bit more before I go on teaching anything.

Otherwise, here are some photos from our little excursion to Shelf Road.

 

 

Trying my hand in videography

This short film was created in the spring of 2016. I was tasked via one of my classes to produce a short film about a local Boulder, Colorado non-profit. Luckily for me I was currently interning as a growing intern at Growing Gardens, a sustainable organic farm focused on educating the public, providing community garden space, and providing a CSA share every week to our subscribers.

 

Photographing In The Backcountry

Trudging through rain, sleeping at high altitudes, losing feeling in your extremities, and developing beautiful calves.

If I could sum up backcountry photography in a sentence, that would be it.

If you were to google “types of photography” you’d soon be overwhelmed with a plethora genres from wedding to event to architecture. In all of these genres, photography is basically the same. Find a composition, adjust your settings, and click the shutter. However each category requires different abilities and mindsets. Personally, I believe that one of the hardest genres of photography to excel at and become proficient in is backcountry photography. I’d define this genre as taking photographs in the wild places that you have travelled to through your own power (legs, bikes, and skis).

Fitness

The first and one of the most important factors that goes into photography in the backcountry is physical fitness. I’ve found that most photographers that come to me asking for advice on shooting in the field overlook the physical requirements that are necessary to perform well on a shoot. Whether you’re shooting skiers or bikepackers, you’ve got to be either as fit or more fit than the athletes. Now, I’m not claiming to be a fitness god by any means (I still eat a pint of ice cream a week) but you’ll prevent a lot of suffering if you’re in shape.

I constantly have to either hike further or skin ahead of my group to get the photographs that’ll tell the story that I’m attempting to share with the world. The best way to get in shape is to just get out in nature and do the activities you love. For example, I go trail running twice a week, practice yoga everyday, and go climbing in the gym whenever I can. This all goes a long way when you’re carrying an extra 10 - 20 LBS of gear while following your subject through sometimes shitty conditions.

Gear

Ah, gear. No matter how much you have, if you don’t know the in’s and out’s of it, it’ll do you no good. Understanding the camera body, when and when not to use certain lenses, and how to get the best results possible under tough conditions is absolutely crucial.

Depending on the shoot and the activity, I’ll bring anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds of camera gear. For backcountry skiing, my kit consists of a Canon 5D Mark III, 24-70 f/4 L, and a 17-40 f/4 L. However if it’s a deep day in the white room I’ll bring my 70-200 f/2.8 II L and leave the 24-70 at home. If I’m heading off on a backpacking trip, my 24-70 and 17-40 cover all the shots I’ll need. On top of that I’m bringing extra camera batteries, a goal zero solar charger, a filter or two, and my tripod. Now add all of that on top of the regular necessities for a backpacking or ski tour and you’ve got a bit of a heavier pack to carry. All of this is subject to everybody else's needs and preferences, so, take it with a grain of salt.

Mentality

Without a healthy mind, any type of photography in the backcountry will be a bit tougher. There will be weather conditions that’ll chew you up and spit you out and gear failures that’ll ruin your day more than a few times. A solid way to strengthen your mentality is to practice yoga and meditate a few times a week. For some this may not work, but I’ve found it quite effective. Also, a healthy diet will strengthen the mind and body as well.

More than anything, despite all of the issues that may occur, the best thing you can do is to stay positive. Look at the situation as a glass half full rather than half empty.

Drive

Drive. Drive is the single most important factor within backcountry photography. Heck, drive is the most important factor within any form of photography at all. If you don’t have the will to get up, get out, and shoot for hours to days at a time then it’ll be a lot harder to succeed. Without this drive, shooting will become boring and mundane. The art form that you once loved will become a pain and nobody wants that to happen. So if you want to pursue photography, be sure keep your stoke high.