If winter is the season of monochrome, spring is the season of color. Spring, following a season of coma-like dormancy, reminds us that we inhabit a miraculous living organism. We are reminded that our planet is a colorful one. Absence, indeed, makes the heart grow fonder.
Photographer Isley Reust moved from Los Angeles to Iceland to follow her childhood dream and in the short 6-minute video above, explains what it’s like to live in an extremely remote village to help others decide if such a move is right for them.
The video above, which was spotted by Laughing Squid, is part of the Relocated series produced by Bustle, a “premier digital destination for young women.” To date, Bustle has produced 12 Relocated episodes that look at unusual, “off the beaten path” homes of people who live off the grid.
Isley Reust is a photographer and filmmaker based in Isafjordur, Iceland. She relocated to one of the most remote towns in Iceland in 2018, after spending years working in the film industry in Los Angeles. In the video, Reust recalls feeling unfulfilled in her career, which led her to a new life in Iceland. Reust has both German and American citizenship, which allowed her to settle in Isafjordur with relative bureaucratic ease.
Isley’s fishing village is home to only about 2,600 residents. According to Bustle, she spends her time guiding visitors through nature expeditions and documents the stunning beauty of the arctic landscape.
Watching any Milky Way timelapse is almost always an awe-inspiring experience, but add in the stellar location of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Ariane 6 rocket launch site and you’ve got a recipe for something truly special.
As Digital Trends reports, the agency is currently preparing for the arrival of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle. The above starscape-filled timelapse was filmed around the launch base in French Guiana and lets you “imagine yourself stepping out of the launcher assembly building or standing on the launch pad in front of the 90-meter high mobile gantry, to look at the stars.”
The video opens with a breathtaking view of the Milky Way before shifting gears and showing off several of the night scenes around the ESA’s launch site in South America where Europe’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket will soon lift off from. Comprised of two versions, the Ariane 6 is a modular three-stage launcher (Solid-Cryogenic-Crogenic) and is configured with an A62 with two strap-on boosters and an A64 with four boosters. The entire Ariane 6 sits at just over 60 meters tall (196.85 feet), which is just about the same height as SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
The European Space Agency says the new rocket will weigh nearly 900 tons when launched with a full payload that is “roughly equivalent to one-and-a-half Airbus A380 passenger airplanes.” The video below shows what this launch mission should look like once the rocket finally gets started.
According to the ESA, the launch of the Ariane 6 is comprised of three stages: the two or four strap-on boosters, a core stage, and the upper stage. The core stage propels the Ariane 6 for the first 10 minutes of flight where either the two or four boosters will provide additional thrust at liftoff. The upper stage will be powered by the re-ignitable Vinci engine allowing the Ariane 6 to reach a range of orbits on a single mission to deliver more payloads, with the upper stage burning up two or more times to reach the required orbit. Once the payload has been separated, the rocket will burn a final time to deorbit the upper stage to mitigate space debris.
Sitting at the top of the rocket is the 20 meters (65.6 feet) tall and 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) diameter Ariane 6 fairing which will contain the various payloads and protect them from any thermal, acoustic, or aerodynamic stress during the ascent to space. This section has only recently arrived at the launch facility and will undergo a series of tests before its maiden voyage into outer space. While the rocket was initially scheduled to launch back in 2020, multiple delays — including some caused by the global coronavirus pandemic — have caused the mission to be pushed back until the spring of this upcoming year (2022).
The pandemic has also meant a year of staying close to home. Now officially vaccinated and with travel restrictions being lifted, I jumped at the opportunity to travel to my home state of Oregon to spend a weekend shooting mountain biking photos. The photos will be used to help promote outdoor recreation in the region, and to build a library of promotional photos for Ashland DEVO — a Southern Oregon non-profit that teaches kids how to ride and race mountain bikes.
Founded in 2017, Ashland DEVO has trained hundreds of area kids to ride recreationally and compete in local, regional, and national races, in addition to providing them with a solid dose of nature therapy. Mountain biking has grown exponentially in Southern Oregon over the past decade, thanks in part to an ever-expanding trail system, plenty of bike shops, growing tourism, and new programs like Ashland DEVO to support the rapidly growing interest in the sport.
With a beautiful, warm weekend forecast, I packed up the Subaru and headed to Ashland, located just a few miles north of the California border.
The photos shot will be used to promote mountain biking in the Southern Oregon region and to help promote Ashland DEVO’s programs. Creatively, I had three goals: I wanted to share the beauty of the Oregon outdoors, show some great mountain biking action taking place, and capture the emotions that communicate the thrill of downhill mountain biking.
Technically, it was also important on these shoots to capture each shot in a way that allows it to be used in a wide variety of media. Photos may be used in print, online, on signage, packaging, collateral materials, or broadcast, and each has its own formatting requirements. A web banner, for instance, may be cropped 1:4, 1:6, or 1:8 tall, and the exact same photo may be used in a print ad at a 16:9 scale. Capturing a great shot can be personally rewarding, but if it’s for commercial purposes and the client cannot use it for their different needs, it likely won’t be able to be used. That had to be kept in mind for each shot taken.
For this reason, I framed each shot fairly wide, leaving plenty of room for various crops and anticipating how each photo might be used in different media.
Lighting Up the Trails
Our shoot location was just a couple miles from downtown Ashland, and our location scout prior to shooting allowed time to find a few great jumps, bumps, curves, and berms to shoot against. It was a beautiful, sunny, 75-degree day, with gorgeous dappled light falling onto the forest floor and trails. The dappled light, of course, was the first thing to manage — while beautiful to the eyes, dappled bright sunlight falling onto a dark forest floor can be very difficult to capture action shots in.
I brought three Profoto B1X strobes and reflectors to light the subjects, and a handful of extra batteries as well, since shooting at (or near) full power all day, plus using HSS, uses a lot of juice. Most shots were taken with just one or two strobes, but having backup gear in a remote area is key, and on a few shots doubling up strobes with a lower power setting on each allowed for faster shooting and recycling speed.
I used zoom reflectors on the strobes, foregoing any umbrellas and softboxes for these action shots. Using all the available light from the 500ws B1 lights was needed with the bright sunlight, and the look of hard, contrasty light for these types of action shots seemed more fitting for the style of shooting I had in mind.
Hiking up and down hills all day also means efficiency and portability are key: carrying lightweight reflectors helps make for a lighter load, they’re easier to hide in the shots, and they’re less problematic in case of any wind. A couple of light stands and a camera bag rounded out the gear needed to capture most of the shots.
Strobes were placed in different positions in each shot, depending on the angles of the camera, subject, and terrain. In some cases, the strobe had to be placed at ground level pointed upwards to properly light the subject’s face; in others, a light held high in the air works better. Lighting under the visor of the helmet proved to be one of the bigger challenges; a dark shadow will rest right on the eyes if the light is placed to close and high.
Choosing the background that appears behind each subject is another important consideration. Even with supplementary lighting, a biker flying through the air can get lost in the photo if the area behind them is too busy or does not create enough contrast against the subject. An open sky usually helps isolate the subject nicely, and dense trees or a dark mountainside also typically work well for me. Other photographers have great results in very different environments and with different approaches, but visualizing what you’re looking for in advance and finding the locations that match your particular vision will make a significant difference in the end.
Ready to Launch
Once I was set up, it was time to start shooting. We had six young athletes to shoot, all of whom were representative of the ages of those in the Ashland DEVO program. Despite their young ages (7-13), all were very accomplished riders who were able to not only keep up with but in some cases completely smoke past adults riding the same trails. They may be smaller than adults, but they’re surprisingly fast, very skilled, and great subjects to photograph.
The speed at which the riders launched down the trails made planning critical and camera settings that allowed great shots to be captured on each run. After a run, each rider had to hike back up to reset for their next one, so fatigue can be a factor — you don’t want to spend time adjusting camera settings or resetting lights only to miss shots on each run or you’ll lose your riders quickly.
Before shooting the action, the area where the shot would be taken was identified, and a few test shots are taken with a person standing in that position. This helped eliminate any trial-and-error during the actual shoot. It only takes a minute or two to adjust the lighting output and/or exposure settings while doing this and saves a lot of time and effort while the actual shooting is taking place. Once the test shots were complete it was time to send the bikers down the hill, around the berms, and up the jumps.
After shooting for 20 to 30 minutes, we moved to a different pre-scouted location. Slowly moving downhill, we shot as many different areas as possible, given the terrain we had to work within the area. With two more shoots scheduled in the near future, we didn’t need to drive to different locations on this shoot, which saved valuable time.
Capturing the Shots
I used a Canon R5 here and it worked flawlessly on this shoot. Most action shots were taken using shutter speeds of 1000 to 2500 second, ISO 200 to 800, and between f/2.8 and 4.5. Many were shot at a distance using the Canon 70-200, with a handful of wider shots taken with a 24-70mm. Focus tracking sensitivity was maximized and as a result, almost every shot was in focus. Any missed shots were the result of an early or late click on the shutter. The 45 megapixels on the R5 also allows for the different crops that might be needed for each photo.
Shooting in a hot, dry, and dusty trail environment creates some additional challenges — or at least a few things to keep an extra eye on. Keeping dust off the lens and sensor when swapping lenses, keeping your camera bag closed, and balancing strobes and light stands on uneven terrain are a few (needless to say, the sandbags stayed in the car).
It’s important to anticipate action, and be ready to move quickly if a rider suddenly veers off course or loses control, and not become an obstacle yourself or overly distract the rider. Having some extra water, a snack, and a first aid kit will make the day more comfortable, and having plenty of batteries, memory cards, and backup gear may just save your bacon.
Wrapping up the day
Shooting mountain biking action is a blast, but like any other shoot, it’s a lot of hard work. It’s constant moving, setting up, adjusting, resetting, anticipating, capturing, reviewing, then doing it all over again. Preparation, planning, and scouting are critical to a successful day, but in the end, it’s incredibly rewarding to have spent the day outdoors capturing some very enthusiastic young riders doing what they love the most — mountain biking.
About the author:Chris Constantine is a commercial advertising and editorial photographer from San Rafael, California. A native of Oregon, he now spends his time in the San Francisco Bay Area shooting portraits, lifestyle, and product photography images for a wide range of clients. While he’s studied photography most of his life, it became a full-time career for him in 2013. You can see more of his work on his website or on Instagram.
Photographer Joerg Daiber of the YouTube Channel Little Big World has published a 3-minute timelapse, tilt-shift-style aerial video along with a set of photos that captures one of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes.
Moldova — supposedly the least visited country in Europe as well as the second poorest in the region — is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe and is bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south. The above film was shot in Țipova, Orhei Vechi, Soroca, Bendery Fortress in Transnistria, and the capital city Chișinău.
“While it might not sound very inviting to most people, I found this country to become my favorite destination on my pre-pandemic East Europe trip,” Daiber says. “The people are lovely, the landscapes are beautiful, and there is lots of interesting history and architecture.”
Daiber explains that he enjoys making projects with this effect because he says that miniaturizing footage somehow puts things into perspective.
“Instead of focusing on major sights and attractions, I try to capture people doing everyday things in these films,” he says. “I find watching these relatable things in miniature very grounding in some sort of way. It makes the personal drama feel so minuscule and tiny in scale. I think that people should not take themselves and what they do too seriously. After all, we are just tiny little bugs on this planet.”
Daiber explains that he shot all the footage and images on an Eastern Europe road trip with his four-year-old son.
“You can see us performing a silly ‘dance’ at 0:51,” he says. “I used a Lumix GH5 and GH4 camera with a few Panasonic lenses. I really love the MFT format for traveling and timelapses as it takes off so much space and weight from your bag. I also own a Lumix S1H, but rarely bring that along. While I love to work with full-frame cameras, they don’t make too much sense for these kinds of projects.”
In addition to the Panasonic cameras, Daiber says that he also, of course, uses a DJI Mavic drone.
While this kind of miniature effect can be achieved with tilt-shift lenses, Daiber says that in the case of this project he added the effect in post.
“A while back I switched from Adobe to DaVinci Resolve and have never looked back since my workflow is now so much faster and easier,” he explains. “I know that some guys have very strong opinions about not using tilt-shift lenses for this kind of work. I do get the occasional hate comment on YouTube and Reddit, but well you can please everybody, I guess.”
While purists might disagree with his methods, Daiber says that he is able to make his art because he doesn’t rely on using tilt-shift hardware. It’s also more practical from a business standpoint.
“I think that [my method] gives me way more flexibility to do everything in post in terms more variety of focal lengths while shooting with zoom lenses, changing focal planes as needed in post, and also I can reuse the raw footage without the effects which makes them more suitable for distribution to a wider audience on Getty Images.”
Daiber has made more than 120 films like this one over the past decade, which all can be found on his website Little Big World. Over that time, the equipment he uses has evolved quite a bit.
“The first films I shot only with a GH2 and there were no drones, 360-degree cameras, and gimbals available. These days there is much more gear to lug around in my backpack.”
For more from Joerg Daiber, make sure to check out his previous projects on his website and subscribe to his YouTube Channel.
Image credits: Photos by Joerg Daiber and used with permission.