sreda, 23. november 2016

Climbing photography basic tips - Part 2

Dogs and belayers are more than welcome in climbing photography. This is third part when not just a climber is in point of interest but also what is behind her/him. 

Too much colorful looks funny but ....sometimes...anyway.... Red is good. :-)

Tip 6: Composition

In photography exists many compositions. If you are new in this art, I trully recomend you research on other blogs or learn from books and magazines of photography for common photo compositions like; Rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, creating depth, filing the frame: for example ˝shoot 3 steps closer˝, playing with colors, learn where to place the horizon line etc.

ADVICE for good composition: LOOK AROUND YOU, FIND OUT HOW THE SUN GOES, FIND EDGES from WHERE YOU CAN SHOOT, DISCOVER THE FIELD FROM LEFT TO RIGHT (180º OR MORE), THEN PICK TWO OR THREE POSITION from TAKING SHOTS AND SHOOT FROM THERE, SO YOU CAN COVER DIFFERENT ANGLES. Sometimes is one meter or half to the right much better then to the left and oposite. Try to find yourself comfortable as much as possible and keep practicing. After shooting you can check photos at home and see from which angles were better photos.

Shoot close ups or detail, then shoot normal lenght, or far away from different anlges to make climber smaller in the wall and get a landscape. Keep practicing and be patient.

Examples of pics from different angle and height of shooting.;

Example of the same boulder from different angle. For me the 2nd is better because from below makes boulder bigger and thclimber is more exposed.

Tip 7: Camera settings

My steps: My camera is ON. I check my settings and pick lens for the shooting. Usually I put 18-140mm lens which has a VR on = lens shake stabilizator. Other brands has other signs like OS, VC etc.

Settings of my camera:
Exposure Mode: In (M) Manual mode you control the aperture and shutter speed, which I usually use. Sometimes the sunlight changes so fast, that I don’t have time to think about that, so I put on A (Aperture mode).
CH is for trigger mode, where I use continuous shooting at high speed. in my camera is 6 frames/sek.
WB; White Balance usually I set up on Auto, which for most cases works well. At sunset light sometimes I put on Cloud or Sunlight WB.
Metering: I put on Matrix or Center-weighte metering option. It also depending of light and the sensor sensitivity. Try and you will noticed the differences on your images.
Picture control: LS for me works best. LS=landscape.
Focus: focus-mode selector is rotated to AF- Autofocus mode, I choose AF-S mode and I use AE-L/AF-L button for lock the focus and exposure. I shoot on this manner most of the time. Find where is your AE-L/AF-L lock button on your camera. First you focus point of interest and keep shutter-release button pressed halfway and then I press the AE-L/AF-L button and let loose the shutter-release button and wait for the moment of action. 
Image Quality and Size: I put Large size and JPEG-fine quality in most cases, sometimes I use JPEG -fine and NEF (RAW). Why JPEG format? Because I want to catch an action. When I shoot in JPEG, my camera speed frame is 6fr/sek. RAW format has many benefits, but for me is the most important to catch a moment.
ISO must be as low as possible. from 100 till 1200. It's depends what kind of camera you have. You don't wanna see a grainy noise on images.
Aperture: It depending what you wanna show and what you have on your list on the shooting day. And also depends which lenses do you use and depending how far is the background and what is on background. Anyway many things is involve for choosing aperture.
I set up from F2.8 (for this I use 35mm F1.8 lens) till F11 with kit lenses . In my cases I set up F7.1 or F8 where I can get a climber is sharp in foreground and the background is a little blurry.
Shutter speed: You must catch a moment in climbing, so you need a minimum number of shutter speed as 1/250th, 1/500th, 1/640th of a second and more. It can be less than 1/250 but you don’t wanna have blurry shots, right?!

1/800, F/7.1, ISO 500, 130mm, A ex.mode, Center weighted average mode. 
1/200, F6.3, ISO 1000 , Flash manual, M ex.mode, 10mm, matrix metering mode.
1/1000, F4, ISO 400, 35mm, M ex.mode, matrix metering mode.
1/1600, F7.1, ISO 800, 70mm, M ex.mode, spot metering mode.

Tip 8: Shooting technique

#1: Camera is set up, and keep it ready. Learn how to handle your camera fast. The light is constantly changing, so be really fast to change setting like ISO, shutter speed, WB, Aperture.
#2: Measure the lighting with your camera and set up on correct light.
#3: I shoot with AF-S focusing system. I focus on point of interest-˝move˝, or I focus a hold or between holds (the head and the eyes must be sharp during the move in most cases!) and then I press the lock button AE-L/AF-L for locking the focus and the light. Then I wait for climber’s move.
When the climber starts doing a dynamic move, I usually start shooting a little earlier than the climber is going to do move on hold. I shoot continuously while the AF-L lock button is pressed during the climbing of climber. I stop shooting when the climbers hold it and sometimes I wait a little bit longer, if some other things happened. Usually they start chalking, shaking. I quit shooting at that point, or maybe I shoot shaking with focusing on her/his faces and get ready for next compositions.
I do not use AF-C or AF-C 3D tracking or other focusing system because it still doesn’t works good enough performance for climbing photography. You can try with that but then you will see after shooting how many images will be out of focus. Maybe with other mirrorless or other cameras have a better AF-C system? I have almost 40% out of focus. I rarely use AF-C with locking button but I still prefer to use AF-S and that magic button.
4# Keep changing the Focal length, from 10mm till 70mm. Again, it’s all depends what do you want to show. If the climber is far, I recommend the focal length to zoom in; from 50-70mm. If the climber is touching your feet, put on a wide-angle lens and catch in the frame also the background. Try to play with that.
5# Keep changing the aperture. If you want a blurry background put a low number of aperture F2.8.  If you want to have also a sharp background and a climber, then keep the aperture a higher number like F8-F11.

               Go practicing!

Tip 9: Editing

Day of shooting is over and now from your memory card you put pics on computer. I have usually more or less 300 photos daily. I use SD card, one is 64 and other 16 GB, the best ones, the fastest.
I have ACD-see program for organizing files. In the same program I also import my photos. Then I look them fast for first time and delete all bad ones. Then I look for 2nd time and pick good ones and I put color mark on it, like yellow and red mark for interesting images for repeat shooting, if it possible. 3th time I make sure for picking the right ones (20 pics) and choose from 1-5 the best ones. 4th time I delete some more picture and start with retouching images.
I retouch in Photoshop then I also use from Google Nik Collection tool the Color Efex Pro, which is really fun to use filters.

Example of images:
normal retouching with Photoshop
Use Photoshop and Nik Collection-color efex pro

Tip 10: Advanced technique

Sometimes or in most cases we climb in two and it's really difficult to find a person who would sacrifice himself to walk 2 hours and climb on great rock and have fun! Remember, no one is going so far and after two hours of walking anyway too tired for climbing and then she/he would only belay for great photos or maybe even climb some easy route. No way! So I had to think to find out a good method for that.

My solution is 
#1  Take a Tripod and remote controls with you!
I use Joby Gorilla tripod and remote controls. More you pay for remote controls, better they works. Or sometimes I forget remote controls, I still can do some shots with with phone. The phone works on WiFi like remote.
Setting of camera: I have Aperture priority ex. mode (A), F8, Metering I put on Center-weighted mode, ISO as low as possible, Shutter speed camera chooses itself for best results but sometimes I put EV to +1/3 or -1/3, depends on light and clouds. I focus the point of interest and then I rotate focus-mode selector from AF to M(button lies on left side on Nikon's cameras) Warning!: Each manufacturer of cameras and lenses has own restriction about rotating AF to M mode! read instruction before using a camera!". The focus now is locked. VR is OFF, because the camera is on tripod. Then I test a shot with remote controls. If it's everything good, then I go belay and while belaying I shoot.

#2 Use a telephoto zoom lens for taking pics from below. In this case I usually find a plant , or flowers which fill the frame. The shots are more interesting.

četrtek, 13. oktober 2016

Climbing photography basic tips - Part 1

Klemen in route Fight or Flight 9b, Oliana, Spain.


I am climber and a climbing photographer and through my photography experiences took me years to learn to take really good photos which now I have them published in magazines, books and other media. With photography I started around 6 years ago. For more understanding; I started actually much earlier with compact cameras and also cameras on film in my teenage years and also I adore photography since I remember.  When I got my first DSLR Nikon D90 in 2010 I started my learning process and for the last 3 years I have been taking this job more seriously, so I am getting better every day. Today I shoot with Nikon D7200.
Well…the thing is… to be a good climbing photographer or photographer in general is a hard job. For me was quite hard to learn all tricks in climbing photography by myself. So, I decided to share my knowledge and experience what I did wrong and what works for me and give you some basic tips for the start of your climbing photography.
I am going to write a blog in two parts, so you can learn from first part and do some homework and then I will give some practical tips in part two. Remember that photography is always about the planning and enjoyable job too.
So, let’s begin!

Tip 1: Get your gear ready

1st you need to get best camera you can afford. For climbing photography is really important that the camera can shoot as fast as possible (5 or more frames per second). I am not saying that the normal camera can’t do a good shot, but climbing has fast and unpredictable moves from one side to another so you and your camera must be fast. You don’t wanna miss a jump, fall or really weird face of the climber. So, I do recommend to buy a good DSLR camera or mirrorless camera with good lenses. And learn how to use your camera.
I use a DSLR Nikon D7200, Nikorr AF-S 18-140mm F/3.5-5.6G ED, Sigma wide lens 10-20mm F/4-5.6 DC HSM and Nikorr AF-S 35mm F/1.8G ED. Don’t forget for flash. Keep your gear organize and clean, cleaning sensor is really important too.
I also recommend to have better lenses, for example zoom lens from Tamron SP 70-200 mm F/2.8 Di VC USD and one good lens until 70mm with also F/2.8. Test lenses first before you buy them. On photos you need to show action and faster lenses can do a better job for us.

2nd thing is 98% of the climbing photography is shooting from the top of the route or from upper part like the edges. That means you need to be ready for jumaring up on rope which you or your climber has to fix into anchor. I will not teach you how to do it. So you need to be aware that climbing is an extreme sport and you are shooting in extreme ambience as well, so you need to take over the responsibility what you are doing and be safe. I recommend if you don’t know how to do those things, the best is to learn rope access from cavers club or someone who knows how to do it properly. Don’t try to figure out how to use your descender on the top of the route. You should know this before you start going up!!! And most importantly; Don’t forget to double check everything before you hang on the rope.
I use all equipment from French company Petzl. They have all the gear for ascending and descending, which is handy, ergonomic and weighs almost nothing. You already have many photo equipment to carry up, so you need to think about the weight too.

my gear+hanging chair from Petzl

Tip 2: Choose the climbing crag and route

Oliana, Spain.
For choosing the crag doesn’t mean you have to drive 1000 km away and then fix the rope and wait for climbers to show up. Don’t do that! Choose you closest crag in your region and call your climber friend and tell him/her that you are learning a climbing photography and you really want to try taking picture of him/her. 99% I’m sure they will love to go climbing with you so you can take photos of them.


Fix the rope in easier route If you are jumaring up for the first time, so the ascending up won’t exhausted you and beside that you are on learning journey, so you won’t be able to take picks right away on overhanging routes with hardcore climbers. You need to understand the movement of the sport first and keep practicing from beginner climbers and slowly move on better climbers. Why? Because you are not fast enough for hardcore climbers yet. So start with 6a climbers. They usually rest more, chalking, talking time in between… and you have much more time to find a good composition. This is a learning process like gardening.

How to choose the crag? Well, all the climbing crags looks mostly the same, the same structure, similar colors from grey to orange and also the lines go more and less in vertical and horizontal direction. Some will disagrees with me, but you imagine a picture which has a bottom layer-the rock, and upper layer is a ˝climber˝ like distraction. In photography means that you have to put distraction into photo. The only differences in the rock is your subject -˝climber˝ and the background like sea, lake, mountains etc. Your job is to draw that climber’s action into a frame and pick the right composition. And that’s it! Sound easy, but it’s not!

Futbolin sector in Santa Linya, Spain.
MY STORY  from my first photographing on rope: I didn’t have that luck to choose an easier route. I had to learn fast because my husband gave me a camera and he needed photos for sponsors. So, I grab that thing and start shooting. And one day Klemen said: ˝Go up and take photos!˝, that was in Gimmelwald in Switzerland. I did jumaring before and also I am alpinist and I know how to use ropes, but taking pics from hanging rope was really uncomfortable for me. So, I went up and took pictures from one 8c route. And guess what, my photos was published in magazine. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn't the best photo, but for that time was good enough. So that’s how I started.

Tip 3: Study the light

The shot was taken during midday. Too much shadow on her face.
In photography is always a lot of words about the light. Basic rule is DO NOT SHOOT IN MIDDAY sunlight unless it is cloudy or the crag is in the shade. Why? The light is too strong and you will get strong highlights and shadows on faces. 
Too much sunlight. Dark and too much bright light on face.
The shot was taken in shady crag.
From my experiences I can say I shoot in afternoon because climbers are too lazy to wake up for one photo which would be great, but the truth is you want the photo and the climbers are in a sleeping mode and their body is not able to do a hardest move at 7 a.m. So you have one option basically. SHOOT IN THE AFTERNOON, CLOUDY DAY, SHADY CRAGS AND AT SUNSET OR SUNRISE LIGHT! Flash is an optional photography, more in advanced tips.

Sunset light makes photos more warm. Good as well.

Tip 4: Get the climber ready

Well… to some people sound funny when I say to them that the photos will be lame if they wear grey, black or old overused clots. But the truth is, most of the people like to see themselves beautiful and in good light with also branded clothes. There are some exceptional people like alpinists who don’t care about how they look. So don’t blame those kind of people and also don’t shoot theme. Why? Because they look the same like crag, there is no contrast between rock and climber and camera also will not recognize what to focus. You can just take a photo of empty wall and it will look the same. About focus later.
My solution is: I order to the climbers exact color I want them to wear and also if they don’t have any, I bring it with me. Don’t worry about the girls, they always have colorful clothes on or decoration on their hairs. The problem is man.
BRING GREEN, RED, BLUE, AND JELLOW T-SHIRTS TO THE CRAG, SIZE M FOR MEN OF COURSE. You can get those cheap shirts in Decathlons sport shops.

Colored T-shirts makes photos alive. In photo you get more contrast between climber, rock and background.
Example of no-colored climbers. They looks the same as rock. And maybe you can find women dressed black too. :)

Tip 5: Composition and framing

Rule 1: Get a knowledge about climbing

If someone asks me: if it’s necessary for taking good climbing photos, to be a climber too? I could say yes, but it is not completely true. Why? You have to be good at framing, compositions, light, catch a good action and tell a story in the image. But if you are a climber, you can better understand physics of moving, gravity and action. If you are not a climber, you need to study this sport, so the easiest way to understand climbing, is to begin climbing.

Rule 2: Be in a good physical shape

Why? You need it! You carry all photo gear on crag, ropes, other access equipment and also jumaring up is not the easiest.

Rule 3: Study compositions before climber comes up

Go up slowly. Look at the line, look at the holds where they are. Try to imagine how the climber will hold theme. It helps if climber goes in a route twice or more times, so you can practice. 

Study the route with different angles and zooming of your camera. Write it down as you get to the ground and next day with your ticket going shooting best composition you studied night before.
For me was the best composition those diagonal lines of tufas in left corner. The rope and climber goes in the same direction. You can imagine diagonal lines and then main distraction is on top of image. On the bottom is connection between lines, this is another, climber ˝belayer˝ looking up. When you shoot someone, please tell to belayer to look up. 

Rule 4: Rule of thirds

Put climber in one of the strong points on intersection in the Rule of thirds.  This is the basis of photography for good balanced and interesting shots. 

Good example rule of thirds. The head and eyes are on intersection of the lines and they are on point of interest. That makes stronger composition.

Another good example rule of thirds with background. Climber is main point of interest and also clots are correctly colored.

Rule 5: Avoid shooting bottom and beginning of the route

Do not shoot from the bottom up and far away, where you can barely see a climber on shots.

Far, far away you can't see what you wanna show to a viewer.
Do not shoot like this or do not publish it at all! there are some exception when is still ok, when with super zoom lenses you can shoot climber looking down. But in most cases that is poor composition.
Start shooting from middle section of the route. Shoot interesting moves, that is usually hard section in the route and shoot the last part of the route too. 

Avoid to do that. The climber is too low. There is no action, boring pic.

Rule 6: Avoid unnatural smiles, shaking, chalking, clipping and posing

Shaking and smiling sometimes is good but not always.

Rule 7: Do not put climber in a cage of your frame. 

Do not force climbers to do stupid moves that they would normally never do in that route.

You must keep in mind; if climber wants to go somewhere, you need to let him/her go there. Let’s see the space in front of climber. In most cases is a hold before climber is reaching for.
Climber is closed in a cage. I don't let her continue the route. Wrong.

Cage photo again.


to be continued....

četrtek, 06. oktober 2016

Catalunya climbing and traveling

We spent some time in Oliana climbing crag and in big wall of Mont Rebei this year 2016. We were traveling on the land of Catalonia and we explored some great spots to rest and just enjoy it.
Catalonia is not just land of pig farms but also with lots of beautiful rivers, rock-lands and empty roads which traveling makes much easier and relaxing.
enjoy watching video!

sreda, 28. september 2016

I feel Slovenia

Šraufov ovinek, Vršič Pass
Cerknica lake, Notranjska region.
Train station Rakek
Rakov Škocjan
Lake Cerknica
Lake Cerknica at winter time
lucky key
Cerknica lake last autumn