INTRO – We've had riders getting back-to-back covers before, but it's rare. Ydwer van der Heide is the first photographer to do it in Kiteworld, and then went one better this year nailing three covers back to back, from issue #62, #63 and #64. Here are his background stories to each cover.
NICK JACOBSEN / KITE LOOP DURING THE RED BULL KING OF THE AIR CONTEST
I try to go to South Africa every year, it’s a good way to meet people from the industry, work with a lot of different riders and get some nice shots. This shot was taken during the Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town, February 2013. I was taking photos for Red Bull during the event together with Craig Kolesky, a very well known action sports photographer that does a lot of work for Red Bull across many sports. We were busy finding good angles and getting the right shots for the event the whole day. The action was in the same area all the time and you just didn’t know when the big and spectacular jumps were coming because all the riders were insane. Sometimes you have to be patient for a shot but most of the time during an event I walk around a lot and try to catch as much stuff as I can. While walking I look for possible foregrounds and backdrops, such as crowds, obstacles or sceneries.
The shot of Nick came almost at the end of the event. I think it was the semi final or the final so I knew that the action had to be crazy. He was flying so high and styled his tricks so well that I just had to wait for the right moment. The hardest thing in this shot was probably getting the focus just right and knowing how the rider would travel through the sky to fill the frame nicely with rider and kite aligned properly.
I think this shot shows the typical Cape Town conditions. Anyone that has been there would know straight away where it was taken. Nick was captured on how to control these heavy windy days and still keep loads of style.
I've known Nick Jacobsen for quite a few years but never had the opportunity to shoot with him in private. Nick is one of those guys that will suddenly come up with something crazy. As a photographer you need to be lucky to be in the right spot at the right time. Sometimes I would like to be everywhere, but I know it’s just not possible.
YOURI ZOON / JUST US ON A LAKE SOMEWHERE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Although we come from the same country I haven’t shot with Youri very much. I live in the northern part of The Netherlands and Youri is from the south. It’s only around three to four hours driving, but somehow with our busy schedules it never happened.
This year I really wanted to shoot with him in Cape Town no matter what. He’s one of the best riders out there and if you see him riding his style is just insane; like from another planet. Every move is performed with a lot of power and confidence and it’s just nice to sit down and watch him.
After a few days of short sessions he told me that he wanted to go up the coast. The wind forecast looked great and there was a big lake inland on a piece of land that we had the permission from a farmer to ride on. It looked like a perfect setup for a cover shot. My goal for this shot was to get into the action as much as possible and make it crispy sharp. I decided to use a fill flash in bright daylight to fill in the shadows and separate him from the background. One disadvantage of using a big strobe is that you only have one shot per action. You have to capture the right moment. This is something I have been working on in the last few years; to get away from the bust mode on your camera and fire one shot.
Driving four hours to this spot for just a couple of good shots sounds crazy. But being the only one on a huge empty lake with a World Champion is somehow a magic feeling.
BRAM BAST / SUNSET LOW MOBE
I’ve been to Brazil for a couple of years in a row so I knew what to expect from the conditions. The good thing about Brazil is that the wind is almost the same every day; at least the direction never changes. If you don’t get the shot the first day, it's more than likely that you’ll get another chance the next day.
Bram stands out for his extremely powerful and low mobe. He's pretty tall, so It’s always amazing how he swings his body round and manages to stick this trick nine out of ten times. Bram once told me that his low mobe is more consistent than his back roll. I’m far away from comprehending that.
We came to this crazy idea of shortening his lines. He was riding 20 metre lines and the fastest and easiest way to shorten them was just to double the lines, making them ten metre lines. The shot would now be more interesting because the kite would fill up a bigger part of the frame. The position I was in relative to Bram was very important to get the kite sat behind the action. As we were shooting straight into the sunset we used a fill flash to freeze the action, but because of the flash we only had one shot attempt per trick attempt which made timing crucial.
The extremely short lines made it very difficult for Bram to complete his rotation but his trick was still very consistent. We wanted to see how consistent he really was, so we took off his leash. We took a couple of shots but somehow they weren’t the best. Was there something in his mind about the leash? Then that one out of ten failures came along, he just missed the bar, got stuck in his boots and the kite went off. Luckily we had Bas Koole who was assisting me with the flash run after it and grabbed it before it went into a tree.
I’m always keen to experiment with new lighting, angles and places. It’s cool to work with people that are able to push the sport to another level, with passionate athletes and people around them that are willing to try new things as well and think different; more outside of the box, and that's what this shot was all about and why I'm pleased it made a Kiteworld cover.
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