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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2006-05-29

In the Bag: Remotes Mean More Money
By Lucas Gilman

Photo by Lucas Gilman

Photo by Lucas Gilman
The words: "Three, two, one dropping" crackle from a Motorola two-way radio, barley audible over the roaring sound of raging water and billowing spray as 19-year-old professional kayaker Pat Keller plunges off of the 110 foot La Paz Waterfall in Costa Rica's Central Highlands.

I can hardly hold still as he plummets towards impact, his form nearly engulfed by the waterfall's apron. Keller can only be seen intermittently through the viewfinder as the Nikon D2X motors away, frame by frame, until he disappears under a boil of frothing water. Did I get the shot? Is it sharp? Too loose? Too tight? Failure is not an option in the high risk and reward game of adventure sports.

The answer to maximizing your success is remotes. Sure, remotes are commonplace in most major sporting venues today, but slog those extra cameras through dense jungles and over mountain passes when every ounce in your pack counts? The answer is: To make more money.

With more cameras you make more money because you can produce more images. Generally I take at least two and preferably three cameras (2 Nikon D2X's and 1 Nikon D200) on every shoot, this way I have a myriad of options. I generally use a Nikon 70-200 VR zoom on one body a Nikon 28-70mm zoom on the 2nd body and a Nikon 17-55mm on the third. I also carry Nikon 1.4 converter for a little extra zoom range.

With the hand-held camera I can shoot a tight vertical, which could be a cover, while simultaneously firing a horizontal placed remote, capturing a scenic horizontal that could run as a double-truck. The third camera is used to capture a different angle to have yet one more option. The verdict: no more editors calling back saying, "we love the image, we just wish it was vertical for our layout " (or whatever orientation you didn't shoot.

Photo by Lucas Gilman

Photo by Lucas Gilman
I also use remotes in places I can't physically be for environmental or safety reasons, such as under cliffs where a skier may set off an avalanche or break off large chunks of ice and debris. A Gitzo tabletop tripod works well here and is lightweight and compact.

Face it, there are no re-do's or take two's in extreme sports. You can't ask the athlete to climb up a 100+ foot waterfall and do it again. It's just not an option.

In kayaker, Pat Keller's, case he got off lucky. He only shattered his right hand on impact, a relatively mild injury for such a big drop, where death and dismemberment are certainly possibilities.

Pocket Wizards work best for firing my remote cameras. Hardwiring is too cumbersome and takes too long to set up in inclement weather. Often the window of opportunity is only a minute or two long for the light to be right, so ease and speed of setup is key. I like Gitzo carbon fiber tripods and ball heads. They've always worked well for my needs and are lightweight and durable to the elements.

So, pull that extra camera off the shelf, throw it in your pack and start maximizing your revenues.


(Lucas Gilman is a freelance photographer based in Denver, CO and Jackson Hole, WY. His work has appeared in magazines such Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure and Outside, but he focuses on the commercial side of sports with clients such as Cloudveil, Thorlo, Patagonia, K2 Skis, Atomic Skis, Head Skis and Dagger Kayaks.)

Related Links:
Gilman's member page

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