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A Sniper Approach
Why the hell would anyone want to shoot action with a medium-format camera?

I was recently commissioned by Strawberry Frog/New York to photograph fast action shots of sand boarders, sand bikers and Arabian horses in the Rub ‘al Khali Desert outside of Abu Dhabi. Somewhere during preproduction I made the somewhat dubious decision to use my IQ3 Trichromatic for the shoot. I knew it would be fraught with challenges, given the speed of the action I needed to capture and the glacial shutter speeds of my Phase System — not even 2 fps, roughly the speed of molasses especially when you compare it to my Canons which shoot at a blistering 14fps.

But I wanted to give it a go, as I’d been using my Phase as my go-to-camera for awhile at that point, having been completely enthralled by its image quality. Perhaps more quixotic than smart, I would aim (literally) for quality over quantity, and take the sniper approach towards shooting over the machine gun approach - that is, be patient, be deliberate, and be considered with my capturing. And miracles of miracles, somehow it all worked out. Not only did Strawberry Frog love the imagery, but National Geographic ended up picking up some of the work as well.

Yes, I had to repeat the actions many times to get the hero frames - much to the dismay of our poor sand boarder, Gleb Osipov, in particular, and as you can see from the wipeouts. Anybody who knows anything about sand boarding knows it’s nothing like snowboarding. You can’t turn on sand. You can’t stop on sand. You can’t do anything on sand except go straight down and crash. And man, does it hurt when you crash, as, unlike snow, sand is basically cement only a tad softer. So you can imagine how Gleb must have felt after a day of hurling himself off of these giant sand dunes. I swear I heard bones breaking a few times. But Gleb just bounced up after every wipeout, dusted himself off, climbed up the dune and did it all again. And again. And again. He was a real trooper. Insane, but a trooper nonetheless.

©2020 Christopher Wilson. All rights reserved.

More About Christopher Wilson

Christopher WilsonAfter 15 years in the advertising world as a writer and art director, Christopher jumped off a cliff to start Christopher Wilson Photography. As an advertising creative, Christopher created a vast portfolio of powerful campaigns for some of the most recognized luxury brands there are, including Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar, Nikon and Ritz-Carlton to mention only a few. Now Christopher is bringing all that experience and passion to his photography - and it shows. Christopher leapt from agency creative to global photographer, landing projects with the most sought-after brands on the planet, and in just about every country there is on the planet.

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