Posts Tagged ‘Cohen Davies

19
Mar
11

Snowboarding in Vegas?

What the…? After reading the heading I bet you have the same puzzled look on your face that I got from everybody in Sin City when I told them I was there on a snowboard magazine trip to Vegas. They would just look at me blankly, thinking that the strangely-accented guy dressed in snowboard pants and jacket in the lobby of Bally’s Casino was just part of the entertainment…like the Elvis impersonators. But it’s true, you really can go snowboarding in Vegas at the inventively-named Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, roughly 45 miles from The Strip.

Last year on a drive from Vegas to Tahoe I noticed some signs to a “Snow Park”, but didn’t think much of it until Radical Gloves‘ Jeremy Burns suggested we do a magazine trip there. I didn’t need much convincing to head back to Party Town, USA…especially when I could pass off all the partying and drinking as a “work expense” to the Tax Man!

I hit the road early Thursday morning with Darragh Walsh, Cohen Davies, and Darragh’s mate Casey, for the 800 or so kilometre drive through a dusty, windswept Nevada desert. There were a few sites to see on the way, but mostly it was just endless highway, punctuated by military installations, atomic test sites and roadside brothels.

We hit up LVSSR Friday and Saturday; it was a shock going from almost 30 degree heat in the valley floor and climbing 5500 feet to the resort carpark to be surrounded by SoCal-like spring snow conditions less than an hour later. The resort is quite small, with only three chairlifts and a rustic “Mom and Pop” vibe. But the park was decent, with at least six medium to large jumps, and a bunch of other jibs and small jumps. And above the resort there is some epic freeriding lines if you are willing to hike. There are plans to put in a few more lifts to access some good terrain, and it will be great to see how the resort progresses over the next few years. Everybody treated us amazingly, showing us around and helping us in any way we wanted. And we felt a little bit like rockstars as word had gotten out about the visiting Australian “pro riders”, and we even had some TV interviews for the local news organised for the Sunday (which unfortunately we had to miss: three nights in Vegas got the better of us and we also needed a day to see the sights in the sunlight).

Vegas, of course, was epic. And it started out well with me winning $250 on a $1.25 bet on a little mechanical horse table game at MGM grand on the Thursday night. Thanks for showing me how it’s done, Jez! My brother, El Rad, flew into Vegas Friday, and as my parents were already there, I was able to combine snowboarding, photography, fun and family holiday all in a few days in Sin City. Perfect! We made sure we got into the party spirit with beers for the drive back down to Vegas each day, and at night me and the boys hit up a lot of casinos, bars and clubs…and made a few new friends.  We kept it classy of course, having a few chilled beers in the room before we hit The Strip.

And the rest? Well, like they say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…unless it gets written up in an Australian-NZ Snowboarder Magazine article! Ha.

When our four nights were over, well, it was a loooonngg drive back to Tahoe. And after chilling by the Paris pool under brilliant sunshine, it was tough to come back to cold, snowy Tahoe…well, that was until we woke to 20 inches of fresh pow overnight! Eeeepppppic!

Keep and eye out for the “Fear and Shredding in Las Vegas” photos and article in Issue 2 of Australian-New Zealand Snowboarder Magazine coming out in a couple of months.

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03
Aug
10

Do the Dew!

What a difference a week makes in the mountains. Last Monday I left a Melbourne warmed by winter sun and made it up to Falls Creek for the usual shenanigans of a Big Cup Monday at The Man Hotel. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent shredding the pristine Falls parks under sunny skies, and snapping a couple of shots of the local boys hitting the new jumps in Ruined Castle. All the forecasts were calling for storms to head our way, and we were fortunate to get a good day of riding in on Wednesday…but by Thursday the cloud, fog and damp had set in and I made a quick trip home to dry out before heading up to Mt Buller on Friday night.

I was back at Buller for the Dew Hut Jam, which was back on busy Bourke Street, but with more invited teams and a new big water tank feature this year. Mt Buller always manages to roll out the welcome mat for the comps…well, yes and no. I had thought that the weather for the 2009 Mtn Dew Hut Jam couldn’t get any worse – but I was wrong! Yep, it was the worst weather I have ever had to shoot in: thick dense fog obscuring the sun during the day, dampness soaking all surfaces, and then by night howling winds knocking over flash stands, seemingly thicker fog and more and more misty rain.

I was up at Buller to shoot for Aust-NZ Snowboarder’s website, and you can check out the Mtn Dew Hut Jam press release with a couple photos from their assigned photog and video here. And to compare the full gallery of shots taken by Rory, who was employed by Mtn Dew for the weekend, take a look here.

I had set up three Canon Speedlight flashes (because they are easier to transport and set up than my huge Elinchrom Ranger, and usually do the job for night shooting) with one behind the main jump, one yellow-cellophaned one to the left by the water tank, and a green one to the right by the rail (I wanted some Mountain Dew-type colours in the photos). But with the cold sapping the power of the 4xAA batteries, and the dampness soaking all electrical surfaces it was a little hit or miss to get all flashes firing at once. However, this actually created some interesting outcomes and some variety to the shots. And for the very brief moments that the fog cleared the photos came out pretty cool I think. But for the last half of the night session there was basically no break in the fog, despite the wind, and I spent more time watching and chatting on the sidelines than shooting. But I’m happy with the results, even if in tough conditions like this it’s easy to miss out on capturing a killer shot of the winning team and riders.

And of course the partying at Buller was second to none – the Hoo Har is always fun, even more so when it’s a chance to catch up with a bunch of snowboard mates you haven’t seen for a while. But the walk back up the hill to my media billet was torture! Mt Buller really is some freak-of-nature microclimate, being the first mountain that the warm, damp Southern Ocean air hits, getting forced up into the cold, high altitude as storms head north east. A storm front was on its way to the Aussie Alps, and every mountain was on the receiving end of some horrible weather on Saturday before the snow started falling that night. However, Buller has a monopoly on being the only place where you can simultaneously be smashed by a tropical-strength monsoonal rain downpour, mixed with some sort of half-ice-half-rain precipitation that somehow falls as liquid yet freezes upon you instantly, as well howling winds, and blinding fog. Walking home was like being caught on some gigantic satanic Slurpee machine. And so the headache I had when I got home was definitely not from the beers, but from the ice freezing my brain!

But I awoke late the next day to a sea of white out the window where a few hours before had been dirt, grass and asphalt! The snow had finally come to the High Country, and as I write it is still continuing…so a trip back to Falls to make the most of it will certainly be on the cards soon.

UPDATE 6/8/10: Transworld Snowboarding have put up some of the photos on their website. It’s not a feature, just a news item, but it’s still nice to get shots published on their site again. Check it here.

14
Jul
10

Behind the Scenes of Snowboarder Issue 2…

 

Issue 2 of Australian-New Zealand Snowboarder has been out for a couple of weeks now, and it was a productive issue for me, including another double-page-spread advertisement for Destyn Via. This time the photo was of Cohen Davies taken on the June Mountain stair rail. Here’s the original shot, which you can see has been cropped a bit, I guess to enlarge Cohen and his DV gear.

It was great that Linton from DV was willing to negotiate to purchase another photo, instead of just re-running the Darragh photo – not only did it give Cohen a big exposure boost, but it advertises some other “colourways” of the gear and shows the breadth of their team…and it was nice to see they spelt my name correctly this time! Check out my previous entry here and Olliepop Films’ video of our trip here.

On that same June Mountain trip two photos I took of Darragh made it into his 7 page interview that I conducted with him. The above shot is a slightly alternate angle of his June rail switch frontside boardslide, but the one published had better style. While discussing the upcoming interview with Darragh and living with him and his constant lolly munching, we came up with the idea to highlight this unusual habit in the text, and top it off with a themed portrait shot.

One rainy night at the end of our season we drove all around trying to find a candy vending machine, and finally spotted one out the back of the Tahoe Inn next to the Tahoe Biltmore Casino in Stateline. We snuck in and set up the shot…and of course got hassled by a few curious residents, but fortunately weren’t stopped by any rent-a-cops.  It’s a shame there’s some shadow across Darragh caused by his arm and hair, but with only about 5 minutes to set up the scene and lighting and shoot a few frames before we felt we would be boosted, we didn’t have time to check every frame. But we did manage to capture the feel for the shot that we wanted, and I liked how the magazine designer ran with our theme and gave the article some candy-cane flair.

I also thought my 8 page interview with Courtney Phillipson and Jess Rich looked good and came together as a good light-hearted read. As I mentioned in my previous post about shooting the girls in Tahoe, as a visual theme for the article I had envisaged it to be all about mirror images, reflections, and like I said in the intro: “Brunette vs blonde, goofy vs regular, experienced pro-rider vs pro-ranks rookie, measured confidence vs all-out fearlessness.”

I had planned to shoot as many features as possible from opposing angles, as I had a photo layout in mind. I even sent through some Photoshopped arrangments of the photos side-by-side, which I was pleased to see the magazine designer applied when putting the pages together. I think it really captures the mirror-image action theme I was going for…however, they failed to follow my suggestion for a slightly saucy/creepy/arty reflection-in-a-mirror portrait shot.

Perhaps the artisitc references for my unusual portrait shot would have been lost on the Aust-NZ Snowboarder reading public? Diego Velazquez’s 17th century painting Las Meninas is the original famous artwork to place the artist eerily within the frame, along with intriguing dark figures and mirror reflections, giving the artwork an overall feeling of unease.

More recently, the revolutionary Aussie-German fashion photographer icon, Helmut Newton, often used mirrors in his work, placing his reflection in the frame as a sort of creepy voyeur in a trench coat, or all in black like here in a hotel room with his wife Alice Springs. This was my true photographic inspiration, and it was fun to try and recreate this sort of image with Jess and CP, and I made reference to the unusual photo shoot in the interview in the hope the shot would make it into the mag. But alas, Evil Editor decided that Snowboarder was not a proper place for some art history education.

But I’m not the only one who has been inspired by Newton and his use of mirrors – TopShop in the UK even set up a “Newton Machine” photo booth to recreate his self-timer and model-in-the-mirror shoots. Check it out here.

A couple of my Vancouver 2010 Olympics photos of Torah Bright made the issue, but I believe the bulk of the action shots will run some time on the magazine website.

But the biggest thrill for me in this issue was my quarter-page self-portrait pow slash from Northstar that ran on page 17! I think this is the second action shot I have featured in among the pages of Snowboarder over the years. Dragon get good exposure with their goggles in this shot, but unfortunately for Nitro, I had split the nose of my board out at Donner the previous day and was riding an old loan board while my Nitro “Team” 159 was being repaired. But maybe I should still try to claim a photo incentive payment from Dragon?

For this shot I was inspired by a couple of Frode Sandbech point-of-view covers I had seen overseas, and I played around a few times with my 15mm fisheye and motor-drive as I followed the girls down through the park while shooting them for their interview. Clearly I’m not the only one who had noticed Frode’s shots – take a look at the cover of issue 2 of Snowboarder if you haven’t seen it on the shelves. This shot from a previous blog entry was another POV experimentation from the same session.

I was able to thank Evil Editor, Ryan Willmott, in person for putting me in his magazine, as he came up to the Gold Coast for a week to finish off issue 3 in the Burleigh Heads HQ of the publishers Morrison Media. He was pretty stoked to show me his new free ride, a stickered-up Toyota Rav 4. It was cool to check out a bit of the behind the scenes of magazine publishing, and get a preview of issue 3, which has our Los Angeles trip in a big, colourful feature article…and also pick up a few free mags. Look out for that issue on the shelves very soon…and take a look at some shots below from my visit to Morrison’s head office.

23
Apr
10

Radman Cameo…

Our medium-to-slow speed internet has been out and running even slower for about 10 days now (and only just got changed over to super fast ADSL2+ with a different provider) so I haven’t had time to check out the video of our June Mountain trip. You’ve probably already seen it in your Facebook Newsfeed or on snowboardermag.com.au or transfermag.com. But if not, (and if you have fast internet) take a look…

The film is up on Vimeo thanks to Destyn Via, the Torquay-based outerwear company that both Darragh Walsh and Cohen Davies ride for.

Fellow Falls Creeker, Jeremy Richardson of Ollipop Films has put together a pretty rad edit of our day and a half riding there. He certainly got a lot of content filmed! And if you check it out, you’ll see me in the back and fore grounds snaking photos, and also getting a little riding cameo in the park. Yeeewwww!! haha.

And one funny thing I noticed about the vid is the angry, pissed-off look on Darragh’s face when he stomps his (final) switch frontside boardslide. Normally a rider is stoked, and pretty much “claims” with a joyous fist-pump when they stomp a tech trick, but because of the general annoying crowd, overall disorganisation, early painful slams and problems “getting the shot” on earlier stomps, by this stage Darragh had well and truly had enough. He just wanted to get it done and get the hell out of there. And I think he was taking some of his anger out on me. It’s all good though – we kissed and made up. And got a great photo to boot.

To see some photos from our trip, click the link here…or wait till issue 2 of Australian-New Zealand Snowboarder Magazine drops…

08
Apr
10

Homeward bound…but where is home again?

To paraphrase the Michael Buble hit: Another winters day has come, And gone away, In even Reno and LA, And I wanna go Home, Let me go home. (And no, I’m NOT gay – I bought the CD for my Mum!) I didn’t really want to go home, but as I had finished my last photo shoot at June Mountain and I felt my shooting season was done I started to think about getting home to enjoy my first big family easter in five years in a little place in central Victoria called Tarnagulla. The more I thought about it, the more I began to miss home and started to plan all the final steps: packing the bags, cleaning the apartment, getting the landlord inspection, driving the crew to the airport, finding a place to store the car for several months…and finally running the gauntlet of check-in chicks with my excess baggage. Then of course there is the three actual flights and 17 hours or so of sitting on my arse from Reno, via LAX and Sydney, to Melbourne. Why can’t heading home just be easy? I guess any big move is always a pain.

Things were winding down at our place as we all thought about home, but although I wanted to pack it away, the camera couldn’t quite go in the camera bag yet. A couple of candid “lifestyle” portrait shots needed to be taken, and it was down to the wire to get a shot of Cohen Davies. A huge snow-dumping storm had rolled into Tahoe on the last couple of days making all our outdoor locations a bust, and with his lack of mobile phone credit, he was lucky to catch me still at home before I busted a move back down to Reno (I had aleady made a trip down and back to drop Darragh off at the airport early that morning…only seeing 4 wrecked cars on the side of the road in the blizzard!) Evil Editor has the shot and it will come out in issue 1, but not the frame I preferred as somehow Cohen was reading the newspaper upside down. I swear I thought he was actually reading the paper as I fucked around getting the lighting right – he must have upside-down eyes, or didn’t notice as a result of the previous night’s action?

We filled our last few days in Tahoe on a little bit of a party train – unfortunately everyone else in town was winding down and the party ended up basically being 20 bored guys around a dowstairs pool table. We had to find ways to amuse ourselves. The highlight for Darragh was his packet of peanut M&M’s (he’s mad for the things!) and the 3 buck McLovin fake ID he bought in 7-11!

More fun was to be had on my last night in Reno. I booked into the awesomely rad 30 buck-a-night Terrible’s Sands Regency (Terribles is actually a chain based out of Vegas – not merely capitalised adjective as you might think – but has the added benefit of running petrol stations around Nevada so you can cash your “Terribles Bucks” for gas on the way out of town. Awesome.) I was rooming with Longy, who was down to his last 10 bucks (in fact he had to borrow $5 off me to pay for his $10.99 all-you-can-eat at The Eldorado Casino) and couldn’t eat again till late the next evening when he got aboard the V Australia flight home. In fact, now that I think about it, Longy never paid me back for that 5 bucks!

It was Tim’s birthday, and the last night in the States for 3 of us as Ben was flying out to London on the Wednesday too, so the three of us not-totally-skint-guys (ie, not Longy) hit the town. It was an adventure, to say the least, but a lot of fun. Sort of like a trashy Vegas. But not bad for a Tuesday night. However, now I know why The Man in Black sang ” But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”: he was putting the guy out of his misery!

I had a reasonably late arvo flight, and despite the gods of time and scheduled lunchbreaks working against me, I managed to store the car away, check in and get my bags checked through all the way to Sydney (even if I had to secretly stuff some gear back into my board bag behind the pillar before I dropped it off at the Oversize Baggage section). I was confused when I saw the destination for my Horizon flight flash up as Mammoth – apparently, weather depending, that flight makes a short stop on the way to LAX in Mammoth Lakes. The flying scaredy cat, Longy, would have hated the swirling and turbulent landing, but it was worth it for the amazing snow stormy views out the door. Longy had taken an earlier flight to LAX, but would join me on the V Australia flight to Oz (one of the only times I have shared a flight with a mate in a long, long time. It was a welcome change…and I got my revenge for the missing $5 by freaking him out pointing out every mysterious plane noise, bang and bump on the 14 hour flight home!) As I took off from Mammoth, I turned around to see Falls/Hotham rider Lauren Smith a few rows back – while I had spent the day ferrying crew to the airport, running round Reno and waiting for my flight, she had been cuting laps in knee-deep Mammoth pow before she threw everything in a bag and made the 5.30 flight to LA and onto Oz. I wish my last day was so simple.

06
Apr
10

June Stair Shoot

For the last three years, every time that I’ve been at June Mountain I can’t help but think about doing a photo shoot on the stair-set leading up to the access chairlift. It looks so inviting, sitting all there alone with three high round down-bars and 24 or so cheesegrater stairs. Almost all the rails around Tahoe are wooden (which severely limits the tricks that can be done) and have all been shot on many times before. I think I remember Kevin Jones or someone hitting the June stairs back in the day when Mammoth (and June) were taking some of the shine from Tahoe and Whistler in the old Mack Dawg vids. This rail is certainly legit!

I’ve mentioned shooting on the rail a few times to a few guys, but it’s three hours away from Tahoe, and needs a fair bit of snow for the in and out-runs. Enter Reuben Cameron and Sam Pofley. Reubs is probably my oldest snow mate, and I would have met him back when he was a Falls Creek park monkey.

He’s progressed to become Falls’ chief park builder, and after a couple of seasons at June Mtn, he’s also taken on that role there. Yankee Sam did a couple of seasons at Falls, showing Reuben the ropes, poached him to June and just this last season took over the organisational role for the freestyle park program. So when I finally found a project and a rider who wanted to come to June I called up Reubs to see if he could help, and he promised to not only smooth it over, but even use his Kat to build the take-off and landing!

Darragh Walsh was pumped (but a little nervous) to get a shot on the rail, and I roped in his Destyn Via teammate, Cohen Davies, to come along and get a different shot. All was planned…and then I got a call from Reuben saying that it was all cool to go ahead, but that another crew wanted to shoot on the rail so we would be combining shoots. No problem…until I heard that the other riders would be none other than super-pro Eddie Wall and wunderkind Tyler Flanagan! Talk about pressure on the Aussie boys to get the goods.

So packing the car Tuesday morning we set off, picking up Olliepop Films’ Jeremy Richardson on the way, and arrived in June’s carpark (complete with redneck truck and guard dog) by lunch. The guys have an awesome Taco Tuesday in place for Spring, with cheap beers and tacos besides the halfpipe and quarterpipe – and you don’t have to even hike the pipe or catch a chair – the maintenance guys tow you back to the top behind a sled! Awesome. It certainly was the place to be on a warm and sunny Spring day and there was a big Aussie and Hotham crew enjoying the good times, including my good mate, Mike D. Mike’s a salty old character (literally, as he spends half his life out at sea working on big ships) who’s been a big part of Hotham Boardriders for many a year, but who loves nothing more than to boost massive out the top of a halfpipe…and he’s always great for a crazy story or laugh. After the arvo shred it was time to celebrate with a couple of cold ones (check out Mike’s stoke with his fridge’s beer dispenser!), a recovery spa, then some good times down at the Auld Dubliner pub in town.

We all woke a bit foggy-headed, except Cohen and Darragh who took it easy to be in the best shape for their meeting with Eddie and Tyler, and headed back to June to get a few shots in the park. Once you’re up the mountain and off the super-slow access lift, June is a great place to shred a fun park without any crowds and hit some unique and cool-looking features. Cohen even found a new way use the top of his board to slide park features. We got a couple of nice shots and Jeremy filmed a bunch of park laps for Destyn Via…but the big challenge of later in the evening was never far from the guy’s minds.

Finally we headed down the hill when the lifts closed, grabbed some food and came back to find one kat shaping the in-run and take-off, and Sam dumping piles of snow in the car-park for the landing. Sure beats shovelling! However I was surprised to see such a huge crew on site – there seemed to be about 30 people stuffing around, getting in the way, arms waving, busy yelling and looking like they were there for business. No site of Eddie Wall though, unfortunately. I guess we weren’t cool enough for Video Hyper Shred. As time wore on and the sun dropped down it looked good to go and a heap of guys started hitting the middle rail and left rail (I’m not not sure why you would bother, though). It was an absolute shit show. Everyone was acting as if they were the most important person there without any consideration for all the other guys. There were 2 other photogs, and I counted at least 6 video cameras. Tyler Flanagan did some steezy boardslides, and Darragh and Cohen stepped up straight away, but all the other riders were less impressive. But it was such a weird vibe – there was no central organisation or order, and dudes were getting in shot, getting in each other’s way and causing lots of angst.

Cohen stomped his nose press before even the sun went down and I had one shot in the bag, but Darragh was trying to get a much more difficult switch front board – much harder than all the 50-50’s, boardslides and front boards the Yanks and Euros were attempting. There was one loudmouth fat photog who I’ve seen around Mammoth and June a lot before – he had all the gear, including a big strobe setup…but clearly no idea how to use it. One flash just isn’t enough to get a decent shot, no matter how powerful it is (I jusy had 3 small Canon Speedlights), and he must have moved the flash 10 times and done test shots 10 times for each location. We were all on edge as wind storms blew through and covered everything in dust, straining to hear the call of “All clear?’ and “Dropping!”. Then as Darragh stomped his trick the fat boy got in my way, and another time one flash failed to go off.  It was a complete shemozzle, and we just wanted to get the fuck out of there and get back home. Darragh was banged up, but I coaxed him into going back up the hill a couple more times…and he kicked a goal straight through the sticks, stomped that switch front board and with a sigh of relief high-fived the crowd. I was happy with the shot, and happier to be getting out of there and heading home to Tahoe. Job done.

It was a short day-and-a-half road trip to June Mountain…but I’ll never have to walk up those access stairs ever again and wonder “what if…?” It was well worth the drive and the shit-show surrounding the rail, and it was a bonus to get a couple more shots in the park too. Thanks again to Reuben and Sam for organising everything for us – I think you guys should be happy with the published results. Cheers, boys.




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