Just returned from Lander, Wyoming photographing rock climbers in Sinks Canyon. NOLS is based there, and I lived there and worked for NOLS for years. I was fixated on climbing in Sinks, there are amazing routes and the canyon is warm enough to climb all year. I hadn’t been back in a long time, great to reconnect with friends and get on the crags…at least ascending a fixed line.
I did actually get to boulder (climbing low to the ground without gear). I wanted to create a shot with my white balance set to tungsten, and use a flash with an orange gel to render the climber (me) neutral. I had planned on using a radio system to trigger my camera, but I got some help from a talented photographer working at NOLS, Lindsay D’Addato. She worked the camera while I climbed on the cheesegrader boulders.
Next up was working on the main face of Sinks. Once again my friends at NOLS helped out in a big way. Mandy Pohja and Brian Fabel came up to climb. My idea was to use my ‘vertical studio’ to create an edgy, lit shot. Creating this look takes a lot of work from hauling lighting gear and large light stands to the crag as well as rigging the lights and ropes to make the image. Mandy and Brian were up for hauling gear and rigging ropes. Thanks to Rick Rochelle for setting me up with these two, they were very patient and game for anything. They could have climbed the route 10 times while I set up the lighting.
Here is the view from below of our set up. Brian, who produces some amazing video, shot this image. An Elinchrom Quadra with grid reflector is the accent light to the left. On the right is an Elinchrom Ranger clipped to a bold on the wall. Originally we had the Ranger hanging from the stand, but the wind was blowing enough that it looked like the stand was going over. Brian clipped the pack to a bolt on one of his trips up the route, a much better solution. A small 24″ square Rotalux softbox is used as the main light.
This cross lighting produces a unique, edgy look to climbing images. Since the Manfrotto stands (269HDBU) can go up to 24 feet, I can set up my lighting on the ground, and extend this set up high on a climb. The daylight exposure was underexposed about 1 stop. My favorite lens for climbing photos from above is the 24-120mm F4 Nikon. This lens has VR, Nano Glass and the perfect range for shooting climbing….and it is razor sharp.
Thanks again to everyone at NOLS that made this shoot happen. Good adventure sports images are often more dependent on the athletes than the photographer!