/ ARTICLE: Ten Frames - Climbing Photography by Alex Messenger

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Alex Messenger is the Editor of Summit Magazine and one of the most talented climbing photographers in the world. He specialises in glamorous assignments to exotic locales, such as The Climbing Works.

"Being a 'climbing photographer' is naturally an impossibly glamorous life, but one that rarely leads to financial security. Or indeed, often anything resembling money at all. Toss in the fact that you'll never have time to climb, and will never be able to relax when the 'light gets good' and it's a guaranteed recipe for lifelong misery. However it's not all bad. At least taking competition photos is great practice for more 'normal' branches of photography like weddings."

Read More: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1084
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: I particularly like the 3rd and 4th photo's.

Alex - could you possibly describe any techniques you used on those? Flash on the 3rd and Photoshop on the 4th I'm guessing?

Cheers,

Jack
Morgan Woods - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
cool....normally i don't see the point of indoor climbing photography but no. 2 is ace.
niggle - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Beautiful shots!

Love the way the short DOF makes them feel very intense and close-up - it really captures the closeness of the indoor venue. The body dynamics are great too - so was Alex lucky to catch the climbers at the right moment or is he a 1000 clicks for 1 good shot kind of guy?

;)
rich on 10 Jun 2008 - kcpc465.rdg.ac.uk [viwc1-1.rdg.ac.uk]
In reply to niggle: i guess the 10fps comment is a clue

but yes, really good - the light's the thing though - very good illustrations of the importance of i reckon

photo #1 guy is a touch on the ripped side too eh?

Michael Ryan - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to niggle:
> (In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC)
>
> so was Alex lucky to catch the climbers at the right moment

Skill. Being there, knowing what he is doing, capturing it.

Darn hard work and lots of experience.
John2 - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Plus 'nail it at ten frames per-second'.
CJD - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to John2:

isn't that like saying 'he wouldn't be able to do this if he didn't have a really spangly camera?'

is that a fair comment?

Michael Ryan - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) Plus 'nail it at ten frames per-second'.

Plus position, timing, relationship with the place and the climbers.

You don't get shots like these with luck or point and shoot at 10fps.

Alex is the pro!

alex - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Cheers Jack. Er, techniques, right, let me think. Yep, the 3rd pic has a bit of remote flash (one remote flash on floor to right of camera). There was no natural light then (it was dark), and remote flash can sometimes work well indoors.

The 4th (and some others) do have a touch of the photoshop. Some have been given that toned look (duplicate layer / desaturate bottom layer / tweak). Why? I'm not sure, it's just a look I like, and toning down the bright colour of the climbing works walls seems to a) focus on the climber a bit more, and b) hide all those dirty marks more. A few were also (obviously...) sepia-ed. But with the backlight from the window and golden colours, they were almost sepia anyway, so seemed to work.

Any help?
John2 - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to CJD: I'm just quoting Alex's own words. Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, but the question was 'was Alex lucky to catch the climbers at the right moment or is he a 1000 clicks for 1 good shot kind of guy?'.

The ten frames a second would mean nothing without all of the other skills that Alex possesses.
CJD - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to John2:

ah, fair enough. Just a bit sceptical about some of the comments frequently spouted on UKC about how it's all about the camera, when Alex is a cracking example of how the camera's handy but having a large amount of talent is the main thing!
Michael Ryan - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to CJD) Obviously

Yeah right 'obviously' that's a great catch all. It's all obvious.

I peruse the mags and our galleries, there are very few shots that 1) provoke an emotional response; 2) capture the essence and 3) that I would hang on my wall.

Alex nails all three.

OK, that's enough blowing smoke up.......

Back to my topos.
alex - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to niggle:

Cheers! Don't take the 10fps comment too literally though...

The hardest thing with comp pics (like weddings..) is to get a good shot of the subject without other climbers, limbs, spectators in the shot. So when you spot a gap through the mass of bodies, and the light and form is looking good, and someone's about to dyno for something, for sure, you'll take more than one shot.

Usually 'machine-gunning' it just leads to hours of tedium at the computer later.Don't actually know what frame rate my camera shoots at anyway - Jack wanted 10 shots - hence the title...

John2 - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Mick, I was attempting to answer one very specific question about the photos. Alex has given a better answer now anyway.
Blue Straggler - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to alex:
> (In reply to niggle)
>
>
>
> Usually 'machine-gunning' it just leads to hours of tedium at the computer later.

Oh yes.

My mind gets dizzy when I read of people shooting 5Gb of, say, kite-surfing in a single afternoon.

Enjoying some of the over-reactions on this thread :-)

I'll have to check the actual article later.

Michael Ryan - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to John2:

I see that John. woops.
fimm on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

I really like the 6th one (of Andy Earl doing the heel hook).
I mean, they're all very good, but I particularly like that one.
alex - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to CJD:

Yep. There's quite a bit of camera-love evident on here sometimes! You don't need a mega-flash one though. For these sort of shots, get an old 70-200 f2.8 lens, bung it on an old DSLR body and you're away. Or you could even use some of that film stuff that we hear so much about.
CJD - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to alex:

<waves flag for film>

niggle - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to alex:

> Usually 'machine-gunning' it just leads to hours of tedium at the computer later.

Ah see you're missing the real trick there. Do what I do: pay someone else to do the shooting and audition the shots live with a cup of coffee at a desk.

;)

I've always thought a person's photography (or any kind of art actually) is like their handwriting: some people have naturally perfect copprplate handwriting which comes out perfect first time every time. Others have scribbly writing and need to score out, rub out, rewrite and redraft lots of times before it comes out right. The one's not better than the other and doesn;t give a "better" result - it;s just a different way of getting there.
alex - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to niggle:

That sounds like the way!

Good job you're not sitting behind a desk looking at my pics in real time - suspect you'd see rather a lot of "redrafting" going on...

CJD - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to niggle:

I like that analogy.
jas wood - on 10 Jun 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
absolutely top draw photography of the highest calibre :o)
Dr Avid - on 11 Jun 2008
Could I possibly add that although these are particularly excellent indoor photos, is not that just a little bit to do with the natural light streaming in the window in a lot of the shots.....something that a lot of indoor walls dont have....


Ahem, just an excuse for anyone that can't get photos as good as these.

Like me :)

Dr Avid - on 11 Jun 2008
In reply to Dr Avid: Jesus, and I cant type properly, that post above made almost no sense at all!
ads.ukclimbing.com
alex - on 13 Jun 2008
In reply to Dr Avid:

Don't tell everyone! Yep, you're right - that streaming light was pretty lucky - highlights the chalk dust nicely.

You don't always need sunlight though, the big spotlights you get at big competitions can give a similarly atmposheric look.

But when it's dark, you need to get those flashes out...

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