by Director of Development, Graham Zimmerman
When media is created on the cutting edge of a sport that takes place in an extreme environment, such as alpinism, the content generated from the climb must oftentimes come from the athletes themselves. This generates what I would consider to be “athlete driven content,” high in authenticity while lacking in some production value, it is raw and it is real. And in the same way that a team of alpinists much pare down their climbing kit to the minimum in order to have the highest possible chance of success and survival, the camera kit must be pared down as well. As an individual who specializes in filmmaking, and fast and light alpinism I am oftentimes forced to consider this balance of weight and need against what I want to capture.
Luckily, we are living in a world where tech is quickly getting better while also getting smaller. It is a golden age to be an alpinist or really any adventurer interested in capturing the experience. Something that we here at Bedrock would encourage everyone to do.
Below is a list of 5 things I would recommend considering when shooting on an expedition or on route.
1. SHOOT WIDE
While having a full array of lenses in basecamp can be fantastic, on route, when weight is major consideration, wider is better. More often than not your partner will be near you, at the belay, at the bivy or while starting/finishing a pitch. Having a wide lens will allow you to capture them in these positions. When they happen to be further away, being able to capture them framed within the environment will often times give you the best perspective on the task at hand, providing a strong sense of place.
2. SMALL CAMERAS
Cameras are shrinking all the time. While on route, or on any weight conscious adventure, you need to have a camera that is small enough to easily wear over your shoulder or to keep in a chest pocket. Recently on route I have been utilizing a Sony A6300 with a pancake 16-50mm lens. It shoots beautiful 4k video and great photos while being small and light enough that I am always happy to carry it.
Another camera consideration, particularly in bright snowy situations, is utilizing an optical viewfinder since a camera’s LCD screen can be challenging to see in bright situations or when wearing polarized sunglasses.
3. KEEP YOUR BATTERIES WARM
Your extra batteries will do you no good if they are cold. Keep them deep in your layers so that when you plug them in they are warm and fully charged. It is also possible to carry them in a small insulated pouch with a hand warmer (a tip I just picked up from some pals over at Uncage the Soul).
While the helmet cam has been known to be overused, it is still a great tool for capturing the experience. Used on one’s head or chest it can capture the experience in a very visceral way keeping the audience engaged and psyched. It can also be used in a variety of creative ways, on a stick or in hand to create very compelling imagery.
5. CONSIDER A DRONE
Drones are getting smaller and smaller. The new Mavik Pro is the size of a Nalgene Bottle and weighs under 3 lbs. While it may not be appropriate to bring on the route itself it can be a huge asset while shooting from basecamp or the approach. It can also double as an excellent way to collect beta on your objective.
With that we encourage you to get out there and get after it.
Be safe, have fun and bring home some great images.