Japan Backcountry with Olliepop Films – Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen

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OlliePop Films’ Jeremy Richardson capturing Mat Galina’s rooster tail in the high alpine above Happo-One.

An epic adventure with a great crew. To see the action photos click the link, and for some lifestyle photos, go here.

Take a look at the feature film below.

And to see some extras and behind-the-scenes check out Olliepop Films webpage.

With thanks to Liquid Snow Tours.

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X Games 2015 Superpipe And Big Air Photo Gallery

Photos of the X Games 2015 Men’s and Women’s Superpipe and Big Air at Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen Snowmass, Colorado.

X Games 2015 Aspen Snowmass
What a view! Buttermilk Mountain’s 22-foot perfect superpipe, flanked by the slopestyle jumps on the left, and big air booter on the right.

The X Games is the self-described biggest and most important winter action sport competition … outside of the Olympics, of course. And after finally getting to experience my first X Games just a couple of weeks ago, and seeing the transformed Buttermilk mountain with it’s huge mounds of snow, lighting arrays and TV and spectator infrastructure, I’d tend to agree. The fact that so much is packed into such a small portion of the mountain is quite amazing. One chairlift accesses the SBX track up higher, the slopestyle course, superpipe and big air jump in front of the base lodge.

It was an awesome few days in Aspen, checking out the resorts by day, and the X Games craziness by night. The highlights were seeing Scotty James throw down and Torah Bright securing a bronze medal on the big stage. A shot or two from the trip should make it into Australian-NZ Snowboarding Magazine this season, so keep an eye out. If you ever get a chance to experience the X Games I couldn’t recommend it higher. Yeah, it’s very “Yee haw, ‘Merica rules!” with it’s Navy sponsorship, simplified narrative and questionable judging catering to ESPN audiences and the mainstream spectators (ie it certainly ain’t a core, cool event like the US Open or Stylewars in Oz), and it really does get frigidly cold outside at night. But the huge crowd, the TV razzle-dazzle, smooth running of a legitimately big event and the insane feats of snowboardery you get to witness more than make up for any negatives.

And in the meantime, enjoy these snaps.

Click on the photos below to open up the gallery and read the captions…

And in case you missed it, take a look at Danny Davis’ gold-medal-winning run which he threw down on the last run of the night. Epic.

Snowboard Photography From 2014 Australian Slopestyle Tour

Stylewars 2014 - Falls Creek

A few weeks ago the director of The Australian Slopestyle Tour called me up asking if I could help out with some media services for both The Mile High by Carlton Dry at Perisher and Stylewars at Falls Creek. He had me at hello …. beer!

It was great being back in the epicentre of the snow scene, with the best snowboarders and skiers in the world congregating on Jindabyne for their off-season, and our winter. Charles Beckinsale, had helped fashion an epic and inventive slopestyle course in Perisher’s Front Valley, and with all the big dawgs in town, the level of snowboarding (and skiing) was way beyond what has ever been witnessed in this land. I was primarily employed by Rich Hegarty to help write the press releases and add to social media, but of course I couldn’t be surrounded by all this snow-shredding awesomeness without giving my new-ish Canon EOS 1D Mk IV a work out.

Perisher’s slopestyle course is always a bit tricky to shoot, and I certainly took my best photos at the ol’ stomping ground of Falls Creek’s Ruined Castle terrain park during Stylewars. But it was a nice change to be able to act as a second shooter, alongside ANZ Snowboarding Magazine’s Alex Roberts, in order to cover all the action across the park. And it was a pleasant surprise to see The World Snowboard Tour use my shot of winner Kyle Mack for their news article.

A great two weeks filled with fun and friends … and quite a bit of that free Carlton Dry. It was so good to be back!

For a closer look, click on the photos to open them up in a gallery…

Japan Journals: Shooting The Niseko Backcountry With The New Zealanders

New Zealand snowboard magazines

For 18 months I sat in the sunny Gold Coast office of the surf magazine, watching the palm trees out the window and looking for a change in wind direction that signalled “down tools” across the office and a race to the Burleigh Point, or mid-Gold Coast beachies. But the whole time I was sitting in board shorts and thongs and  enjoying the security (and paycheque) of full-time employment, I was more often than not dreaming of sub-zero temperatures, icy faceshots and the quiet solitude of hiking through the backcountry with a camera in hand. If there was one major gripe I had with what many would consider a dream job, it was that as the Online Editor for a major surf magazine, I just didn’t get enough time to follow my true love: snowboarding.

So when I left the magazine, the first thing I did was book a trip to Japan. I wanted back in the game … and with four weeks in peak pow season, the game was sure to be on.

Dane Tiene had teamed up in Niseko with the kiwi boys, filming their webisode project across the island of Hokkaido, Japan Journals. And although I wasn’t able to meet up with ol’ mate Dane before he flew out, Nick Hyne and Nick Brown were more than happy to have me tag along and shoot some snaps with Connor Harding and filmer Heath Patterson.

It’s always a pleasure to work with the kiwis, as every one of them is just so chilled, friendly … and willing to throw down at every opportunity. And with Japan Journals, these boys are onto a good wicket, producing some great snow-travel-themed web edits full of banging tricks with some great backing from their sponsors.

Veteran shredder Nick Hyne has been to Japan more than a dozen times after first visiting on a high school exchange program, and so I had no doubt that he would have the locations dialled. And so for two days in late February the boys picked me up in Niseko in their Rhythm Snowsports-supplied van to shoot a backcountry jump hidden not far up a valley in the mountains halfway back to Sapporo, and a pillow-line cliff band outside Niseko.

Check out the jump we shot at 3:15 in this Japan Journals episode.

While it might have been just another couple of days in front of the camera for the boys, for me it was quite a successful two day return to the snowboard photography game. The great li’l shred magazine from the other side of the Tasman, NZ Snowboarder, was looking for some shots of Hyner, Browner and Connor and I managed to have a couple of shots published full-page, as well as a double-page spread with one of my Shibuya Crossing 35mm film panoramas, and a couple more shots throughout the magazine’s two issues of the 2013 winter. And through Nick Hyne I was able to tee up one of my shots being used as a full page ad in the skate and snow mag, Manual Magazine.

Not a bad outcome for two day’s shooting, if I do say so myself!

And with another snow trip booked (back to my second home, Lake Tahoe) for this February, I can say: it’s good to be back!

Click on the photos below to open them up in a full size gallery, and take a look at the finished results…

Wanna see more from Japan? Take a look at my landscape and lifestyle photos from Japan here, and my iPhoneography from Tokyo here and Kyoto here.

Follow Japan Journals on Facebook here for all their latest wintry adventures.

All that glitters on the goldy…

After the end of winter I flew up to the Gold Coast for a mighty Metallica concert up in Brisbane, and decided to stay here for a while at Casa El Rad with some work lined up from early November. It’s a good thing the the Bligh State Government changed the State slogan to “Queensland: Where Australia Shines” from “Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next”, because we know that isn’t true. There are some amazing sub-tropical downpours up here, and long-range forecasts for more cyclones up north, which will be great for waves down here on the border. And at least after the storm comes the sun, and with it, rainbows over the waves.

I’ve taken my camera down to Coolangatta a couple of times, and last night snapped a few sunset shots after a fun surf session. There were dolphins out in the water bobbing lazily between paddling boarders, and not far off shore some huge whales splashed around. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished checking out the sunset it was too dark for the couple of shots I took of the whales to come out properly. But I hope you enjoy the Coolangatta photos below.

Over on Snowboarder Magazine’s website there are some shots of mine of Jeremy Burns from Falls Creek. It’s a nice little online profile, and I was glad that these shots from 2009 finally managed to see the light of day (see some of them below too). I’ve shot a couple times with Jez this last season, and there are sure to be some bangers of him in the mags next year. And we also have a fun little project in mind for overseas this coming winter. So stay tuned to Radman and Radical!

Changing topics, and getting back to one of my favourite issues, recently Coastalwatch ran an interview with a well-known surf and fashion photographer. Jason Reposar  started out in graphic design, didn’t like a surf photo he had to turn into an ad, so picked up a camera and some film and shot his own ad…and the rest, as they say, is history. Coastalwatch’s article is a shortened version of a longer interview in a new online magazine called 18 Seconds, and omits some of his colourful past…and even more colourful quotes. For example, when asked about his favourite (photographic) subjects he replies: “Pussy, music and surf. If I wasn’t a photographer I’d still be interested in those three things.” I hear ya, Jason!

Reposar has some interesting things to say about the state of surf photography, the switch from film to digital, and the influx of new photographers under-cutting the pros and deflating the industry:

”With digital cameras and the explosion of surf photography, it’s become harder and harder to make a living from just surf photography. You’ve got all these kids now whose parents bought them a camera and they’re swapping their shots for clothes and empty promises. The magazines and clothing companies are taking full advantage of this. It’s really killed a lot of careers because some of the older guys who have been doing this for years and have families, are suddenly taking huge cuts in salary. They’re having to work harder for a lot less money…

I think that some of these new guys are killing off careers and sending really talented surf photographers to other areas of photography to make a living. Most importantly, they’re killing any chance of a career they might have by underselling images and poaching other photographers…

Why would a company pay $3,500 for a great photo when they can get a good one for a few t-shirts and a pair of boardies?….It’s the companies that I would hold responsible for controlling the pay rates. You can’t really blame an uneducated 18-year-old with a 600mm for trading shots for product. Maybe after they’re brought up to speed on this game you could, but what kid wouldn’t be stoked to get a shot in print?”

So in a lot of ways it sounds like a similar situation to snow photography: when you are willing to take photos for the pure love of it, it makes it tough on the guys who are also trying to make a living out of it. Now I just wish snowboard companies were willing to pay $3500 for a photo for one of their ads! I’ve discussed the issue of what a photo is worth, about a surf photo of mine being published in a newspaper for free, and about how to try and protect your digital images from being used and abused by companies that should know better. If you are interested, take a look at the blog entries here, here and here.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Reposar has some ideas about how to make it better for the pro photogs…and it’s quite similar to an idea a great Aussie snow photographer had a couple of years ago..a shame we couldn’t get it to take hold:

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and it’s all fuelled by corporate greed. This is no surprise to me and I don’t think it should be any different. What should change is us… the photographers. We need to unify and create a union to provide security for ourselves. Make some guidelines for pricing, maybe some health insurance for the dangerous situations we have to put ourselves in. We should have some security for our families and most of all have some consequences which companies take up the arse when they get caught breaking the rules of the union.”