culture

A Failure of Reason

July 20, 2013

A dead eagle on a stream bed in the Great Bear Rainforest. Power.

A couple of months ago a new magazine started.  I got word of it early on and knew I wanted to be involved.  It’s called Mountain Life Annual is published by the same rad people behind Mountain Life Coast Mountains, but with a jump into a new league.  MLA has a select number of partners, companies that get the rights to have one ad in the magazine, or book as it is more appropriately referred to.  Leslie Anthony is at the helm of the editing and he is about as good or better than anyone for the role.  Expect big things from this annual book. Fortunately for me, in the first issue (currently at the printers), there is an article about the opponents to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – tanker route, and included in these colourful characters is Norm Hann.  Norm was the star of STAND film, and as such I had a plethora of beautiful and often alternative type imagery that usually would find no home.  Mountain Life Annual gave them a home.  In this article four of my favourite images are shared as spreads, along with a few spots.  Check out this mag when it comes out, because if this is an indication on the quality, then it is going to be premium coffee table fodder.


STAND world premiere, articles, and vacation

May 28, 2013

In a form I keep trying to break, I’m finally writing a blog post two months after my last one.  I keep saying to myself and others that I will try to write and share more, but sometimes work and play get in the way of me and my blog.  But alas, here I am again to spill out some of the most exciting things that have been happening in my world of photography and film over the past 2 months.

For the month of April I pretty much lived in my office, starring at a computer screen and a final cut timeline that seemed endless.  Segment after segment, edit after edit, slowly STAND film was cracked away during the final stages.  Sound design, colour correction, DVD design, poster design, articles, magazines, promo images, blog posts, festivals, world premieres, sponsors, new sponsors, logistics, logistics, logistics.  That is what the month looked like, plus about 1000 other things that I couldn’t keep out of my brain; things to do or unique ideas or future trip planning.  But after all the chaos of finishing a full film to a level I was proud of, we had the world premiere of STAND in Vancouver, BC, on Friday May 3.  The venue was packed, 400 people strong, focusing their eyes and ears on what Anthony and I had dedicated the last two years of our lives to.  It was the big test, and we passed with flying colours.  The projection system was incredible, loaned to us graciously by Sim Digital (thankyou greatly Max and Jon!), and it pumped a massive 10,000 lumen 1920×1080 image onto a 24 foot wide screen.  The event went off and I look back at that evening with such fond memories.  My whole family was there, Anthony’s parents from Australia were there and Norm’s family from Ontario was there.  Mike and Lucy McQuade traveled down from Haida Gwaii, Chris and Kara Williamson traveled down from Kelowna, and friends came from Whistler and Revelstoke for the show.  A full recap with images can be seen on STAND’s blog.  Following the premiere we had shows in Victoria and Tofino, and then it was vacation for me.  I surfed a bunch in Tofino, then when up island to a bike-surf mission with some bros and we hunkered down on BC’s coast for a week of rain, wind, wolves, bears, sea lions, fish, and some slabs.  What we found was a miniature gem, but most importantly it opened the doors to future exploration and adventure.

Upon arriving back in civilization and seeing that our province had voted Christy Clark back into power as premier, and with a majority, I was crushed.  The fight for our coast continues harder than ever now, and I’ve seen even more to keep the fuel lit forever.  The day I got home we hosted the Roberts Creek Film Festival, part of the Arts Festival and showed STAND twice to two packed and engaged crowds.  The day that event ended I finally took a breath and could sit down and gather my bearings.  Work is busy as always which is good but tiring at times.  I know it will slow down, but certain things always need to be maintained when running your own business and those things do not go on vacation when you do.  Fortunately I have a good group of friends and family that pick up the slack when I am away.

In some greater news of magazine publications, I’m stoked to share a recent article that ran in SBC Surf magazine’s current issue.  Thanks to Ikelite Underwater housings for keeping my camera dry and allowing me to make pictures like the one in this article of legend Raph Bruhwiler surfing.

 All photos are by me and words by Norm Hann.  If you ever want to see the Great Bear Rainforest, or learn how to SUP, do it with Norm. The guy is legendary and knows the north coast so so so well.


Cover – Mike Hopkins

March 25, 2013

Getting a cover is always exciting.  My world of photographer is not as focused on the editorial world as many of my colleagues, but I still manage to squeak a cover here from time to time.

My lastest cover is a shot of Mike Hopkins taken last July on a road trip to Rossland to grab some stills.  This was a little scrub that initially  I was not very impressed with, but using the skills we have and our collective ability to crush it, we pulled of some rad shots.  It is very nice to see this as the latest Big Bike Magazine cover.  This is the second Hopkins-Teichrob cover so far.


 


Projection imagery – taking my photographs into a new dimension

February 20, 2013

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to pen and photograph a feature for the current issue of Mountain Life magazine.  Mountain Life is a west coast culture magazine, which I have worked with for many many years.  The first feature I ever penned was with them (on a surf exploration – camp trip), and I continue to enjoy working with their team.  The current issue is ‘the Photography Issue’, so it is ideally the best issue to ink a feature in as a photographer.   I think the editor (Feet Banks) and I went back and forth a good five plus times to get this piece how we wanted it, but in the end it flows with two narratives, both helping explain the mindful thought behind these pictures.  Here is the piece:

Table of Contents - Raph Bruhwiler, Vancouver Island, BC - Ikelite/Stand Film

Photography is magic. Certainly there is a science behind it, and a history – photographic experiments with pinhole cameras date back to the fourth and fifth centuries – but the way a photo freezes time forever, all the ideas and premeditation of the photographer coming to fruition with the pressing of a shutter button… to me, that’s magic. And the great thing about magic, just when you begin to understand how it works, there’s always a new trick waiting in the shadows.

 

*                            *                                    *

A creek flows through my backyard, it inspires me at unexpected times and has been the subject of more than a few off-season photo experiments. The creek helps me slow down and think. This past autumn as the forest filled in with rich colours and my workload conveniently dried up to a trickle I revisited an idea I had been rattling around for a while. The only reason I hadn’t tried it yet was simply that I hadn’t tried it yet, and that’s a pretty bad reason.   I grabbed a digital projector and a headlamp and headed for the creek.

 

*                                    *                                    *

As photographers we twist dials and turn knobs to capture light, colour, shape –things we can never grasp with our bare hands alone. By changing the composition and framing, focal length and exposure the photograph, and resultantly what is portrayed, will also change. No two images will ever be the same yet each is able to provoke ideas in a viewer that may not have otherwise existed.

Whether it is slide film chemically recording actual particles of light or a modern digital CCD (charge-coupled device) converting those incoming photons to electron charges, one concept of photography has remained constant: to represent and share the three-dimensional world in two dimensions. But viewing a 2D representation of the 3D world has never felt fully satisfying to me and I’ve been trying to find that lost dimension for a while now. I think I found it in the woods down by the creek in my own backyard.

 

*                                    *                                    *

It took four electrical cords linked to cover the 50 metres across my yard, down the bush, over a calm section of the creek and into my first projection site. There are few scenes darker than a moonless November night in BC but I managed to stumble-haul my loose kit of a projector, laptop, tripods, and camera through the forest – and only once slipped on the old 20cm–wide “bridge.”  Even with power cables plugged in and devices connected, I wasn’t overly optimistic about the idea of re-shooting my own photos projected onto logs, leaves, trees and rocks. A lot of things can easily go wrong. Is this a waste of time? Is it stupid? If this was cool wouldn’t someone have already done it? Should I just go back inside and avoid the bear that is probably lingering nearby? The creek answered me by continuing to gurgle along as it always did, blanketing all other thoughts in blissful white noise.

I got back to work.

*                                    *                                    *

For me, conventional photography consists of three major steps: premeditation of the image to be captured, the actual image capture, and post-production/editing. The end result of an image is limited solely by the imagination of the photographer. With the photos in this series I wanted to divert the process partway through and re-combine my raw images with the beautiful environments that surround and inspire my work. Each photograph starts as an original digital image I’ve previously shot. These images are then projected onto carefully selected surfaces that complement or enhance some element of the original photograph.

There are no computer tricks at work here; it’s pure photography. The goal of this work is to expand our collective concept of photographic representation, and to engage audiences to stare and interpret, guess and question, to be confused and understand, to look again and to think beyond what they initially see. By deleting preconceived notions and allowing thoughts to flow freely through the mind, we open the door to pure creativity. This is how the first images began 1600 years ago and how new ideas will continue to develop and broaden the photographic horizons.

 

*                                    *                                    *

I almost knocked everything into the water at least twice, stumbling around the dark edges of the brush trying to shine a light on the third dimension. But from those first images projected onto a pocket of ferns I realized I’d found something at least, a seam to be further explored. Many images didn’t work, time flowed past without notice, but then a photo would land on the ferns and just pop out at me and reinvigorate the process.               This began as a “why not?” idea but as things began to click I found new purpose with every projection and every shot. One of my favourite things about shooting photographs is when I surprise myself. That happened, then it happened again, and again.

*                                    *                                    *

I’ve been down to the creek a half dozen times since that night, even set up a tarp to be able to shoot in the relentless winter rain. I think about images differently now. No matter what I shoot I find myself looking for those elements of depth and ways I can lift the third dimension to the surface.

Photography is science: chemicals on a metal plate or digital pixels on a screen.  But that science is an arena for creativity, one pushing the other until both evolve into something unique. Art, creativity, photography, magic…

These days, it’s all going off at the creek down in the woods in my backyard but I imagine you can find it almost anywhere if you aren’t afraid to look.

 

 

I am very excited by this adventure into a new avenue of visual representation and look forward to future endevours that will lead me and my photography in ways I cannot currently imagine.  There will be some really cool work being done along these realms right here in Roberts Creek, with a collective of individual wizards I’ve come to known…stayed tuned for more details in Spring.


The World Open photo competition – Finalist

November 20, 2012

Let me begin by saying that usually I am not a huge fan of photo competitions.  How do you judge images so different from each other, seemingly not comparable.  I guess at the end of the day, the components that make a great image remain the same.  I usually do not enter photo competitions for this reason, and that it is often seen as a waste of my time to bother submitting, paying fees etc.  For The World Open, I took a different approach.

The World Open is a new photo competition that summoned over 9000 images from all over the world. There were five categories (action, street, nature, people, open), and I managed to get one photo as a finalist (top 40 / category) in the ‘action’ category.  I am very stoked on this, as all I wanted to do by participating in this comp was to have a presence in this body of images, to help get my photos to a few more eyes.

 

My finalist image is of Kyle Norbraten riding on the Oregon Coast.

 

 


Publications of the recent past. A varied collection.

June 22, 2012

a mixed bag of gallery and article image usage over the past couple of months

 

As seems to be the theme of my blog, it’s been a while since my last post.  In the past couple of months I have been working mostly on Stand film (standfilm.com).  May was spent figuring out logistics of traveling through Haida Gwaii, park permits, filming permits, insurance, flights, more flights, sailboats, ferries, food, beer, and everything inbetween. During that time and upon my arrival, I’ve received a number of recent publications that I’d like to share.  Three mags chose my images for covers in the past few months.  I am very stoked to see the diversity amongst these covers.  Something I find interesting with all of these is that the originals were shot as landscape images.  The way I frame a landscape image often allows it to be a perfect two-page spread or cropped into a single page.  Although this is the first time that I have action covers not shot vertically.

 

Dirt magazine, from the UK, printed this cover of Kyle Norbraten in Fernie, BC.  This shoot was plagued with problems from the beginning with the whole build being done in the rain and fog, mud-mitigation was the name of the game.  Finally after days of rain and nearly being struck by lightning, the clouds parted and we had a day and a half of good weather for filming.  I did a pan this one and only time in the whole shoot and it turned out exactly how I wanted.  Sometimes things just click, when the rider is in the zone, I’m in the zone, and everything is just flowing.  This was one of those moments.  I presented this cover to Kyle with a little bit of handy cam work by Dylan Dunkerton.  You can check it out here...Kyle’s reaction is priceless.

Dirt mag, UK, Cover with Kyle Norbraten

Original still image for the Dirt cover.

Earlier this Spring, I also landed the cover of Big Bike magazine with Graham Agassiz shredding in Kamloops golden light.

Big Bike mag, France, Cover with Gragam Agassiz

 

Original still for the Big Bike cover.

 

Upon my arrival from Haida Gwaii, I saw this image below posted.  It is Darcy Turenne shredding in Sorata, Bolivia, on the cover of Australian outdoor magazine, Outer Edge.  The trip her, Hopkins, and I went on to Bolivia last year was incredible, just hitting the very edge of trails to be ridden in that country.  I know I will be back sometime in the future.  Thanks again to Travis Gray of Andean Epics for the priceless guiding and facilitating, even if things were a bit loose. This issue of Outer Edge also features a story from our Bolivia trip penned and photographed by yours truly.

Outer Edge mag, Australia - Cover with Darcy Turenne in Sorata, Bolivia

 

Original still for the Outer Edge cover.

 

I have been working a lot lately on getting full articles in magazines.  This allows more of my imagery to be showcased while at the same time providing words to fill in the blanks.  The two major pieces that have be getting good press are 1) trip to Sorata, Bolivia from last spring, and 2) From the Inside Out bike film articles. Here is a sampling.

Dirt Magazine article (words and photos) for From the Inside Out

 

Mountain Life mag Summer 2012, photos

 

Big Bike mag, France, Bolivia article

 

Big Bike mag, France - Inside Out article (words and photos)

 

Stand mag, Hungary.

 

Time to keep the wheels spinning and head into some fresh zones.  I’ve been doing a lot of scouting lately and am really excited about one zone in particular, which may be a 2013 mission, but who knows, maybe the stars will align for 2012.

Ciao

-Nic

 

 

 

 


Approaching winter, bike films and random adventures

November 1, 2011

Fall is one of my favorite seasons.  There is still enough daylight to get a lot of activities crammed into a day.  Mountain bike trail conditions reach the apex of primeness, surf begins to pick up with regularity to the pulsing swells, and the air smells rich with anticipation as winter approaches fast.  This is a time of year that rather than put the bike away, I get a chance to bring it out more and ride for fun.  At the same time I get a chance to explore surfing to a greater depth and catch up on everything that got pushed to the back burner at the end of summer.  Winter is coming and I am very stoked to ski this year and expand my horizons in the skiing world.  Fall is diversity…or maybe diversity is an old old wooden ship used during the civil war era….or maybe Ron Burgandy’s definition wasn’t quite correct.

 

To start off the results of the diversity that Fall presented, here is a short video produced as Dendrite Studios from a heli trip to TLH heliskiing with Epic Planks.  I finally got a chance to finish up the edit in time to release this piece and get everyone jonesing for pow! My first heli-ski trip, this adventure was all time, skiing pow and eating like Kings.

After the TLH edit, it was back to the mountain biking world to help finish up ‘From the Inside Out‘ by Secondbase Films (The Coastal Crew + Anthill Films).  My role on this film began as a photographer, and I’d shoot the odd video here and there.  As it was time to nail down The Coastal Crew’s segment, Curtis took a very bad crash and put himself out of production.  Then a couple of weeks later, Norbs crashed and broke his foot.  This left Dylan as the only person who could get into the zones to film, but also the only person left to ride.  As a result, I happily hopped into a much larger role as cinematographer, and Logan was a big help firing the remotes for the photos. The production timeline for Inside Out was insane, way too tight, but we managed to get it all done without too many sleepless nights.

As a result of all of our travels and bike shooting, I have a number of new magazine publications to share.  Kyle Norbraten’s train gap nailed Photo of the Month in The Red Bulletin, as well as two spreads in Freeride Germany magazine Gallery (Oregon shot below plus the train gap); Darcy Turenne‘s Dakine ad came out with a bunch of shots from a recent trip to Bolivia, and Kenny Smith’s Fox train gap jumping ad can be seen online, in Decline, and Bike magazines.  As well there are gallery images and spreads in the current MBUK, The Ski Journal, and Spoke Magazine.

 

Darcy Turenne Dakine Ad, Bike Mag, Oct 2011

Darcy Turenne Dakine Ad, Bike Mag, Oct 2011

 

The Red Bulletin - Kyle Norbraten train gap, Oct 2011

 

 

Kyle Norbraten in Freeride Magazin (Germany)