bh_header_newyearsLate last year, I was asked by B&H if I would work up a blog post in the style of New Year’s Resolutions. Over the course of two weeks I assembled ten topics that I wanted to work on in 2015 on both a professional and personal basis. These resolutions included everything from shooting more personal projects and motion projects to getting less stressed out on asignments. What follows are a few clips from that blog post.

Shoot more personal projects: The past few years have shown me that the images I produce when shooting for my portfolio are quite marketable and often end up being licensed to a wide range of clients. In light of this fact, and because shooting personal projects and portfolio images allows me to push the envelope creatively, I need to free up some time to shoot for myself. For 2015, I need to plan some photo shoots that continue this tradition and push me on a technical and creative level to create something new and noteworthy.

Meet with clients in person: Some things never change. In the end, working as a pro photographer comes down to relationships with clients, athletes (for a lot of my work), models, and everyone else that I work with. I have found that meeting with people face to face and showing them my print portfolio in person is not only a fun exercise, but it is also still the best form of marketing.

Continue having a grand adventure: One of the reasons I photograph adventure sports is that I love being adventurous. Having an adventure is inspiring and makes me feel alive. On my trip to the Amazon this past year, we had a discussion about what constitutes an “adventure.” Some of us talked about risk, some of us talked about things not going as planned, but I think the best summation was that an adventure begins when the outcome is unknown and you step out of your comfort zone. I hope to be out of my comfort zone quite a bit in 2015.

My thanks to B&H Photo & Video for including me in the mix alongside thirteen of my peers. To see all of the blog posts visit the B&H website. You can read my New Year’s Resolutions on the B&H Explora blog.

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MC_141028_fishertowers_1129“People ask me if I am crazy. If you aren’t doing what you love then I think you’re crazy!”Miles Daisher, from the Miles Above Series

Over the last five years, I have had the honor of working quite a bit with the Red Bull Air Force. Last fall, I got the call to work with them again. For this assignment, Miles Daisher and J.T. Holmes were looking to jump off several of the biggest formations in the Fisher Towers near Moab, Utah. The Fisher Towers are giant sandstone pillars that rise up to over 900-feet tall above the canyons below them. These are pillars of mud and for climbers these formations make up some of the scariest climbing anywhere on Earth. Only the extremely brave and most experienced climbers attempt the bigger routes on these towers.

The idea for this shoot was that Miles and JT would be climbing the towers to jump off them. Chris McNamara, a well-known, hard-core Yosemite climber who has also done several routes in the Fisher Towers, was on board to set up the ropes. Andy Lewis, known by his nickname “Sketchy Andy,” also joined the team as he had jumped from the towers before. Over the course of three days the athletes jumped more than half a dozen times each from two separate towers.

As a climber, the Fisher Towers have always been a mystical and beautiful place for me. They are much more majestic than many of the formations in the nearby National Parks. While I was only ascending ropes with mechanical ascenders , a.k.a. “jumars,” and not actually climbing the formations directly, it was still a wild experience to get on top of these famous formations and see Miles, JT and Andy leap off.

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Top Image: Andy Lewis and JT Holmes fly around the Titan while B.A.S.E. jumping in the Fisher Towers. Above: A shot of the Titan, the largest formation in the Fisher Towers, which rises nearly 1,000-feet above the surrounding canyons. To ascend the Titan, we climbed ropes set on the left side of the Tower and rappelled the main route on the right skyline of the tower. Below: JT Holmes, Andy Lewis and Miles Daisher launch from the Kingfisher Tower. 

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During the shoot, Andy Lewis made a successful attempt to jump off the top of a nearby mesa and land on top of the Kingfisher Tower. After repacking his parachute on top of the Kingfisher, he then B.A.S.E. jumped off it. This is only the second time anyone has ever landed on the Kingfisher Tower and it is was quite a small landing zone with an extremely high risk factor if anything went wrong. Andy ended up landing on the smallest part of the tower’s summit, which was about four feet wide. His feet were right on the edge of the cliff when he touched down and luckily his parachute continued forward, pulling him farther onto the top of the tower. In the image below you can see Andy zeroing in on the landing.

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On the second day Miles Daisher, always one to push the envelope, did a wingsuit B.A.S.E. jump off the Titan. As you can see below, he didn’t just jump off it, he did a full gainer (backflip) off the exit and flew into a nearby canyon. For this shot I was stationed on a rib of the Titan with a 400mm lens and blasted away at 11 frames per second to create this composite image showing his movement. In the shot below (left) you can also see Miles ascending a fixed rope en route to the top of the Titan.
MC_141028_fishertowers_wingsuit_comp_1v2_flat_crop2MC_141029_fishertowers_2611Above: Miles Daisher checks out an alternate take off spot on top of the Titan. Below: Miles Daisher launching from the Titan near sunset after climbing up the fixed lines. MC_141029_fishertowers_2681

On this assignment I was shooting stills while the Red Bull video crew was working on the last episode of the Miles Above series, which is a ten part video series that gives insight into the Red Bull Air Force. Below, you can watch the last episode of that series, which showcases the Fisher Towers and all the action depicted here.

For part of this shoot I was stationed up high above the towers with a 200-400mm lens and a big tripod. As always, when working with a video crew it is a partnership where we try to stay out of each others way. As a climber, I was often in places that the video crew wasn’t willing or able to access. In the image below, I am situated above the Kingfisher Tower setting up the shot for Andy and Miles’ attempt to land on top of the Kingfisher.

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As with many of my photo shoots, it is hard to tell the complete story in a short blog. This shoot was incredibly taxing and difficult, as are all B.A.S.E. jumping shoots. You generally have only a second or two to catch all the action before the jumpers are just a dot in the sky below you. In the case of this shoot, ascending close to a 1,000-feet to get to the top of the Titan was a four hour ordeal that took it’s toll physically as well. As always when shooting with the Red Bull Air Force, and especially with Miles, whose passion is effusive, there is never a dull moment and I relish the time I get to spend with them. Look for a full accounting and more images from this incredible assignment in my forthcoming Winter 2015 Newsletter.

“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” - Andre Kertesz

2014 has been yet another banner year both creatively and professionally. This year marks the 18th year I have been working as a full time pro photographer and I am very much looking forward to 2015. Before we cross over the threshold I thought I would share some of the best images from 2014 and also some of the career highlights this year. Please let me know which images you think are the best ones from this selection in the comments.

For any photographer, pro or amateur, creating a dozen top-notch images is a very good year. I have added several new images to both my online and print portfolios this year. In fact, I have added more images to my main working portfolio this year than ever before in a single year. Hence, without further ado, here are what I feel are my strongest images from 2014.

Red Bull Air Force – Phoenix, Arizona

Red Bull Air Force - ActionIn early January I got a call to photograph the Red Bull Air Force out in Phoenix, Arizona at a training camp. This marked the first time the entire team had been together in quite some time. I was able to get a wide variety of images over the course of two days with the Air Force. I shot everything from portraits to action images, and along with Andy Farrington’s help, also managed to get some “in flight” images of the team as seen above. One of my favorite portraits from that shoot was built from a series of studio portraits of the athletes in their wing suits, as shown below.

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Walt Disney Theater – Los Angeles, California

mclark_cala_0514_0317While teaching a workshop in Los Angeles for a former client and his students earlier this year we set out to photograph the well-known Disney Theater in downtown Los Angeles. It was a heavily overcast day which, as it turns out, were the perfect conditions to create moody, dark images of the theater showing all of it’s nuances. I got so many incredible images on this shoot that it was very difficult to choose which ones I liked best. Which one of these three to do you like the best?
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Vale do Javari – Amazonia, Brazil

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This summer, I spent three weeks deep in the Amazon with Céline Cousteau and some close friends working for CauseCentric Productions while documenting indigenous tribes for an upcoming documentary film entitled Tribes on the Edge. It was one of the most intense experiences and expeditions of my entire career. I captured so many incredible images on that expedition that I can’t possibly share them all here – and I am not able to share many of them as these images are part of an ongoing project. Suffice it to say that this expedition was the highlights of my year and one of the highlights of my career. We are scheduled to head back to the Vale do Javari in May 2015 so there is a lot more to come. For more info on this trip, check out my Summer 2014 Newsletter.

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In the Studio – Santa Fe, New Mexico

mclark_nmst_0814_0616_comp1Working with the brand new Elinchrom ELC Pro HD strobes this summer, I set up a studio in my offices and experimented with these amazing new strobes. The results were eye opening in terms of the possibilities and the power of of these new strobes. They were so fast in terms of flash duration and recycling speeds that I had to rethink how I normally shoot. The resulting images are quite different than anything I have ever produced and inspired me shoot in the studio more often – both to create new and exciting images and also to continue working on my lighting skills.

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mclark_nmst_0814_0769v2Queen Charlotte Sound – North Vancouver Island, Canada

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While on assignment this fall for Red Bull Photography and Nokia, I photographed sea kayaking up in the Queen Charlotte Sound near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The image shown above is the best image from that assignment and might well be the best image I have created in a number of years. Every time I look at this image I like it more and more. It certainly has a mystery about it that you rarely find in adventure sports images. Below are two others from that assignment that also favorites. The other sea kayaking image shown below was shot with the 20 MP Nokia 930 mobile phone. I was blown away that a cell phone could create images of this quality.

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We also shot a behind the scenes video on this sea kayaking expedition, which shows many of the difficulties we faced and how e captured images with both high res DSLRs and the Nokia 930 mobile phones. Check out the full video on Vimeo.

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Apple Computers – Retina 5K iMac

This fall, it was an honor to see Apple use a few of my images to promote the new Retina 5K iMac. One of my surfing images was featured quite prominently on the Apple website and it is great to work with them again. This surfing image was one of the images I featured in last years Wrapping up year end blog post. The new 5K Retina display is ground breaking and images on this display are absolutely stunning. Apple needed extremely high resolution images to show off the display and luckily this surfing image was shot with a high-enough resolution camera to work for their marketing.

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There you have it. Thank you for taking a look. I hope 2015 is even more creative than 2014 and I can continue to push the limits of my creativity and create new perspectives and stellar images for all of my clients. My thanks to all of the clients who hired me for assignments in 2014 and to all of the athletes I was honored to work with. Happy New Year!

  • Russ Bishop - Congrats on a stellar year and a fantastic collection Michael! Love the series on Queen Charlotte Sound. Wishing you all the best in 2015.

natgeo_seminar_1I am happy to announce that I will be part of the National Geographic Traveler Seminar series in 2015. It is an honor to work with National Geographic on these seminars. I will be giving a half day seminar in Boston on Outdoor Adventure Photography and a full day seminar with my good friend Nevada Wier in Washington D.C. on Adventure Travel Photography.

These one day seminars cover a lot of ground and are jam packed with information and entertaining stories. These seminars are aimed at amateurs who want to improve their photo skills and take their photography to a whole other level. They include technical details as well as inspiration – and they are quite affordable. Here are the exact dates of the seminars I will be teaching:

Outdoor Adventure Photography – Boston University – Boston, MA – March 22, 2015

Adventure Travel Photography – National Geographic Society – Washington, D.C. – April 12, 2015

Click on the links above for more details and to register for these seminars.

From the National Geographic Traveler website:

“If you’ve ever wondered what it is that makes a photograph great—or more important, how you can make a great photograph—here’s your opportunity to learn from our experts. National Geographic’s renowned photographers shed light on every phase of the art and science of picture taking.

Our seminars will teach you how to judge and control natural light to your advantage, find the right composition when framing your picture, know when it’s best to use flash, discover what’s new in digital camera equipment, and much more. You’ll get information on photographing every type of subject from landscapes and nature to portraits and people, plus insider tips and personal viewpoints from some of the most talented photographers—and storytellers—in the industry.

No matter what your skill level, National Geographic Traveler Photography Seminars will show you a whole new perspective on what you can do with photography.”

I hope you can join us for one of these Seminars in the Spring of 2015.

 

fall_2014_cover_smv2The Fall 2014 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter is now available for download. If you’d like to sign up for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

This issue includes an editorial about my latest assignment where I was given incredible freedom, a review of the Elinchrom ELC Pro HD strobes, an article detailing my recent assignment with Red Bull Photography and Nokia, an editorial entitled “On Assignment with a Mobile Phone,” and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over 6,000 thousand photo editors, photographers and photo enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Fall 2014 issue on my website at:

http://www.michaelclarkphoto.com/files/fall_2014.pdf

If you’d like to check out back issues of the newsletter they are available here.

Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at www.adobe.com.

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To get the ball rolling for the fall holiday season, I am happy to announce a 30% off sale on all of my fine art prints until December 31st, 2014. How this works is very simple, just take 30% off my standard fine art print pricing, which can be found here, and contact me to order the print. If you have any questions about print sizes or available images please don’t hesitate to contact me.

These archival prints are painstakingly created by yours truly on some of the finest papers available. We print on Epson printers and work with a variety of papers including both fine art matte papers and Baryta Photographic papers. The printer and paper combination is chosen specifically for each image so that each image will be rendered with the highest possible resolution and the widest color gamut. Our main papers are Ilford Gold Fibre Silk, Ilford Gold Cotton Textured and Ilford Fine Art Smooth papers.

Note: This is a limited time offer and I will only be offering up to five (5) Limited Edition Prints at 30% off for each Limited Edition image. You can see which of my images are Limited Edition or Open Edition on my website. Also, please note that 30% off prices do not include shipping. 

mclark_catc_0914_1240_wrblogoIn September, I had the honor of shooting an assignment for Red Bull Photography and Nokia. Redbullphotography.com is a website where Red Bull promotes 60 of their top photographers and I am excited to be among those sixty photographers. Each year, as part of a co-branding partnership, Red Bull Photography and Nokia choose a few of their photographers to go out and create new and exciting work for the Red Bull Photography website to promote both the photographers and the stellar Nokia phones.

For this assignment, the art directors at Red Bull Photography and Nokia chose sea kayaking from the list of possible photo shoots I suggested. Sea kayaking is not, as you might have guessed, the “normal” Red Bull sport of choice, but the point of the Red Bull Photography website is not just to further the “Red Bull” image but rather to showcase great new work. Having been up to Canada last year, on a vacation of sorts in Johnstone Straight, I chose to head back to that location with my good friends Tony Hoare and Joe Nodeland. In addition, this year I brought along a good friend and video expert, Bill Stengel, to shoot a behind the scenes video for the Red Bull Photography website. Bill shot the behind the scenes video on a Red Scarlet DRAGON Digital Cinema Camera. Click on the image below to go to the Red Bull Photography website and view this video.

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As you can see in the video, we had a fantastic time in the Queen Charlotte Sound, which is near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The weather came in half way through our six day trip and forced us to get everything in the first two days but we were blessed with both clear skies and gorgeous foggy conditions that helped us create the signature images for this assignment. Below are a few images that give a sense of place.

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Of course,  a big part of this assignment was to shoot with the Nokia Lumia 930 mobile phone. The 930 has a 20 megapixel camera in it and it also incorporates an incredibly easy to use camera app. The phone is also the only mobile phone I know of that can shoot DNG raw images. We were all very impressed with the camera and the phone itself. The screen on the front of the phone is one of the most impressive I have seen on any device. We shot both video and stills with the phone. Perhaps one of the best images from the entire trip is the one below that was shot with the Nokia 930. As my first assignment shooting with a mobile phone, I have to say that the future of photography is going to be vastly different than it is now. This 20 MP phone wasn’t far off, in terms of image quality, from my Nikon D4 and that is a scary thing to think about as a pro photographer.

To see more of the still images shot with the Nokia Lumia 930 to and to see our behind-the-scenes video, also shot with the phone, visit the partners page on Redbullphotography.com.

mclark_catc_nokia_0914_0239As assignments go, this one was quite stressful because of the logistics involved, the tight timeline for the deliverables and also because we had to shoot everything with four different camera systems. In the end, we came away with some stunning images and an amazing behind-the-scenes video, both of which really give the viewer a feel for this astounding area.

I have to give a huge thanks to Tony Hoare and Joe Nodeland for all of their hard work, for the early mornings and late evenings, and for coming out with us on this incredible journey.  Also, my thanks to Bill Stengel for documenting this voyage into the unknown and for all of your hard work putting this video piece together. I certainly could not have pulled this assignment off without a stellar crew and these guys were great to work with. Lastly, my thanks to Red Bull Photography and Nokia for this assignment. It is extremely rare that you get an assignment with so much freedom like this one, and working with the Nokia Lumia 930 was a pleasure. As always, working with Red Bull is about as good as it gets. This assignment was no exception.

To see all of the images and video we produced on this assignment, head on over to the Red Bull Photography Website and check out the Seakaypes Project and the Nokia Seakaypes Project. Stay tuned for more about this assignment in a future issue of the Newsletter.

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