2015-11-03 An idyllic river view attracted the attention of German photographer Jannik Hammes, and his immediate reaction was to contrive a way in which he might combine action with this tranquil scene.
Many photographers, when spotting an enchanting landscape opportunity, might be happy to photograph it in a traditional way, but when photographer Jannik Hammes came across an ancient tree that had spectacularly fallen across a scenic stretch of river, he immediately began to think of ways in which he could use this situation as the basis for an action study.
“Over the years I’ve shot a lot of mountain bike events,” he says, “This activity is all about getting involved with nature and experiencing freedom, so it was a good fit. I contacted experienced rider Jonas Janssen and together we scoped out the location several times looking for an angle. In the end we decided to construct a skate ramp leading up to the tree so that Jonas would be able to jump over it on his bike, while I took up a low position in the water, enabling me to be able to look up at him as he was in mid-flight. I knew this could result in a really dramatic image.”
It took a full two weeks to work out the logistics with the ramp, but finally everything was ready and Jannik and Jonas set to work. For this shoot Jannik was working with the CMOS-sensored Hasselblad H5D-50c and 55-110mm. He set his ISO to 3200 and employed portable flash to ensure he had the shutter speed required to lift the shadows and freeze the action.
“The lack of noise that the H5D-50c produces is crazy,” he notes. “I was able to achieve the image quality of medium format mixed with the lowlight performance of a 35mm DSLR. The camera is also very robust and able to stand up to some tough treatment: I was nervous that it might not survive, but in the end I just treated it as any other tool and it never gave me any trouble even though it got dirty and wet. However, I survived less well: after the shoot I was off work sick for a week. Jonas also suffered a little since he fell off twice before we got the shot we wanted.”
What started out as a personal project worked out so well that Jannik felt compelled to share it with magazines and internet sites, and the sequence has now been seen around the world. “To keep it to myself would have been sad,” says Jannik. “In the end I just wanted to share it with as wide an audience as possible.”