Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Best Photography Gear for a Winter Shoot in the Mountains

If you're planning on doing a photo/video shoot in the mountains at Winter, there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to picking the right gear. I've just got back from a week in St Moritz in temperatures as low as -20 degrees C, shooting on everything from a frozen lake to deep powder. Here are my tips:

- Pack plenty of batteries. They will die very quickly unless you keep them warm. Do everything from sleeping with them in your sleeping bag, keeping them in your jacket pocket when not using them, or if you have a car, keep them inside with the heating on!

- Get a decent back pack. I use the Mission Photo from Dakine which has lasted me four years so far. Do everything you can to keep your pack as light as possible. Plan your day accurately and only pack the necessary gear. 

- Take walkie talkies. A pair of radios are priceless, not only making comms more efficient between team members but also saving your voice from having to shout. I use Motorola radios, they are small, light and have a range of about 4km.

- Pack a pair of sunglasses or goggles. Even when it's overcast, the light reflecting off the snow can prove to be startlingly bright and difficult to work in, especially if you're looking through a viewfinder or at an LCD screen all day.

- On the same note, pack suncream. You're at greater risk of sun burn with snow around you reflecting the light.

- Wear layers, gloves and take hand warmers. Although I wore plenty of layers, my biggest mistake on this trip was not taking fingerless or touch screen gloves and my hands really suffered. Luckily one of the crew had brought hand warmers with him which was a lifesaver! Operating a camera, tripod, jib and all the other accessories that come with a photo shoot, require nimble work and if it's freezing cold, keeping your hands warm is crucial.

- Use an LCD Viewfinder Loupe for video. If you're shooting with a DSLR like me, I highly recommend getting hold of a loupe that you can clip onto the LCD. It magnifies the screen for you and blocks out external light, making it easier for you to see the LCD and keep your image sharp and in focus.

Shaun White's training for the Sochi Winter Olympics - 'Russia Calling' video review

Check out this video, 'Russia Calling', by Shaun White, showing his training and qualification for the Sochi Winter Olympics. 

Rather than just being another one of those overly optimistic videos showing just the best bits of an athlete's road to Sochi, this gives a very real look at the hard work, frustration and pain that has to be endured in the process. 

This 45 minute behind the scenes documentary focuses on Shaun and his trainer, Bud Keene, doing weeks and weeks of physical training, ice baths and practice runs to try and nail a triple cork in a half pipe. It covers the highs and lows of landing new tricks and visits to the hospital. 

Sure, most people would think Shaun is living the dream, flying around the world and snowboarding all the time, but you can't help but feel a bit sorry for him after watching this - the sheer pressure and constant media coverage he has to put up with is colossal and you can really see how much winning a medal at Sochi would mean to him.


Looks like Shaun White asked for this video to be taken down from the original YouTube channel it was posted on, found another version here:

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Electric jet powered snowboarding - Jamie Barrow - St Moritz

Filming in St Moritz with Jamie Barrow as he tries out electric jet powered snowboarding. Here's a little teaser, full video to come soon:

Thursday, 16 January 2014

'Into The Mind' by Sherpas Cinema - Review, trailer and behind the scenes footage

Into The Mind is that good I've only owned it one week and I've already watched it all the way through, three times. The guys at Sherpas Cinema have done an amazing job here, combining breathtaking cinematography with a storyline full of meaning and metaphor. I'd highly recommend this to any climber or snowsports fan, but it's so well done almost anyone will enjoy it.

I found it particularly fascinating to watch from a videographer's point of view as it was obvious the guys had a clear overall concept for the movie and they must have put a huge amount of thought and time into each shot. One of the best scenes is the use of time-lapse clips of nature moving in time with the in and out breathing of an injured skier as he lies in a hospital bed after a nasty wipe out. Very clever and brilliantly done.

Check out the trailer:

The film is described on as:
"... a story of rising to the ultimate challenge.  Having the courage to risk fatal exposure and the perseverance demanded on the quest for achievement.  These are not solely physical feats, they are mental conquests."

Here's a great interview by Outdoor Journal with the Sherpas Cinema directors, Eric Crosland and Dave Mossop.

The film was also co-directed by JP Auclair, Leo Hoorn and Renan Ozturk. Renan features quite a lot in this great BTS video, worth a watch:

Athletes that feature in the movie: Callum Pettit, Kye Petersen, Xavier De Le Rue, Jp Auclair, Tom Wallisch, Eric Hjorleifson, DCP, Samuel Anthamatten, Johnny Collinson, Angel Collinson, Benji Farrow, Austin Ross, Ian Mcintosh, Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Rubens, Renan Öztürk, Jimmy Chin, Mark Abma, Conrad Anker, Izzy Lynch, Rush Sturges, Matty Richard, Julian Carr, Stan Rey, James Mcskimming, Joel Loverin, Rory Bushfield, Kris Erickson, featuring Karma Tsering

If you'd like to watch Into The Mind, you can buy it here as a DVD or a download.

Interview with Britain's fastest snowboarder, Jamie Barrow, on his jet powered snowboard speed record

After setting both the outdoor and indoor snowboard speed records in 2013, Jamie Barrow is officially Britain's fastest snowboarder and has some more exciting projects coming up this year. We sat down for a catch up and he spilled the beans...

So Jamie, rumour has it you've got a very exciting project coming up involving electric jet engines of some kind?! What can you tell us?

Well, after seeing videos of my previous speed records, a guy called Adam at Dreamscience Propulsion contacted me and asked if I was interested in testing out his 'Thrusters' (electric jet engines). I said yes straight away, it sounded pretty exciting! So we briefly tested them in the UK and then came up with a plan to try them out properly somewhere with my snowboard. After doing some research, the frozen lake at St Moritz seemed perfect and the team at St Moritz said they were happy to support me, they're even pisting a runway for the event! I'm off there next week with Adam to test the jet engines and see how fast I can go.

Has anyone done this type of speed record before?

No one has ever done anything like this before on a snowboard as far as I'm aware, so this is all pretty much unknown to us! 

What kind of risks are you expecting?

The jet engines themselves are perfectly safe but they're not that light. This will affect my balance dramatically and make me more likely to catch an edge and fall over, which at speed isn't that fun! Other than that it should be fine...!

How does this compare to the two records you set last year?

It's completely different, in the other two records I relied on gravity to take me down the slopes. In this one, I'm on the flat and using the electric engines to propel me forward, so it'll be really interesting to see how fast I can go.

What speed do you think you'll get up to?

Honestly, I've got no idea! We'll only know once we start testing them on the lake.

What other speed records or projects do you have in mind for the future?

There's definitely a few similar projects in mind at the moment but we need to get the right support to make them possible.

What advice do you have for other budding speed demons?

Don't fall over! No seriously, go for it, see what records you can break, push your limits and just enjoy yourself.

Jamie will be in St Moritz from 18th - 25th January attempting to set a speed record with the electric jet engines.

To keep up to date on this, you can follow Jamie on:

Jamie's electric jet engine speed record is being supported by:

Dreamscience Propulsion
St Moritz
Summit Goggles
Varg Eyewear
Hats for the Hill

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Banff Mountain Film Festival 2014 - trailer, films and dates!

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is back for 2014 and the UK Tour runs from the 30th January right through to the 10th May all over the UK!

If you're into your outdoor sports, photography or film I'd highly recommend coming along - it's great value, there are prize giveaways and the quality of the films is outstanding. I went to the 2013 Banff Mountain Film festival and loved it (read my short review of it here).

Check out the official trailer:

Some of the films they'll be playing this year are (click on the link to see the trailer):

Sufferfest - climbing, mountain biking, Alex Honnold

High Tension (Reel Rock 8) - climbing, Everest, Ueli Steck

Into the Mind (special edit) - ski and snowboarding

Heaven's Gate - wingsuit flying, Jeb Corliss

The Beauty of the Irrational - adventure running, Grand Canyon

Down the Line - canyoneering

Flow: The Elements of Freeride - mountain biking

The Last Great Climb (special edit) - climbing, Antarctica

NotBad (special edit) - mountain biking

Split of a Second - wingsuit flying

Valhalla (special edit) - ski and snowboarding

Tickets are £14.80 and you can buy them here: 

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