I received a call from Red Bull that they were looking for fresh images of one of their top kayakers, Tao Berman, and I immediately started doing research on waterfalls near Tao’s home in Washington State. I decided I wanted to do a sequence to show the path of the kayak on a technical drop. With some scouting I found Frustration Falls on the Little White Salmon River in Oregon and it looked like the perfect spot for the shoot. The hang up was that it was about a 6.5 hour hike into the waterfalls and we couldn’t be sure of the water flows until we got to the falls. We decided to go for it anyway.
I used a Nikon D800 and NIKKOR 24-70mm lens for the shot mounted on a Gitzo Traveler tripod. The image was shot from the canyon rim above the falls. I had to rappel onto a sketchy ledge for the ideal angle, which was scary with the gusting winds. After everything was in place the drop went off without a hitch. After the shoot I downloaded the images to two G-Technology G-DRIVE EV’s in the field to make sure I had everything backed up. This was something that would be hard to recreate – so data safety was imperative.
Once back in my studio in Colorado, I downloaded the images using Apple’s Aperture to two G-Technology G-SPEED Q RAID drives. One is my archive RAID which I don’t touch and the other one is my ‘live’ work RAID for working files. Both are set in a RAID 5 configuration for speed and safety. I toned the 15 separate images from the waterfall drop in Aperture and exported them as TIFFs. After completing the export I imported all 15 images into Adobe Photoshop CS6 via the Photomerge function, which lines up all the images perfectly. The next task was to go layer-by-layer, erasing the areas on the layer below to expose where each kayak was in the next frame. Overall I was really happy with how everything worked out. – Lucas Gilman
Equipment and settings: Nikon D800, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED zoom lens, Gitzo Traveler tripod – TIP: I always shoot water and snow sports at 2500+/sec