EXTREME CANYONING ARTICLE BY PREDRAG VUCKOVIC / REFOTO MAGAZINE
One of the biggest photography magazines in the region, ReFoto Magazine December 2011, had published more of my work in an article about Extreme Canyoning. I was very happy to share some of my photo shooting experiences in hard conditions such as canyons and caves. This extreme discipline is very beautiful and unique and is still expanding.
FOR REAL ADVENTURE LOVERS!
Thanks to our colleague and friend Predrag Vuckovic we have descended headlong down the white slopes, flew free fall from a height of several hundred meters, dived the most beautiful seas of the world and understood why it is an extreme sport so appealing and exciting. Now came the turn canyoning, a seemingly innocent and not so attractive sport, but apparently only.
Predrag Vuckovic still successfully combines two great love of photography and extreme sports. Exploring the beauty and excitement of the various sports stunts and got deep, cold and dark canyons that, for the bravest and most persistent, hidden beauty and unimaginable challenges.
Predrag formed, together with Milos Radevic (one of the leading people in the Mountain Rescue Service in our region), a team of "Extreme Canyoning". It comprises the lovers of various kinds of extreme sport, canyoning and combines them into one through hiking, scuba diving and spending time outdoors! Canyons are true untouched nature, and indeed few people can pass through them, especially the extreme ones. However, Predrag added to all this, and almost 30 kg of photo equipment from which down the slippery rocks, climbs, dives, swims, walks…and to all the good pictures!
Photographing in the canyon is very demanding from the very beginning. It is necessary to know the techniques of climbing and hiking, climbing rope and rope use. The photographer carries equipment, heavy and bulky, and with it all must take care not to get wet, and in the canyons of the water everywhere. This all makes it difficult to pass and climbing.
On the expeditions with his “Extreme Canyoning” team, Predrag carries two cameras and an underwater case with that one is protected from water, and the other is located in the casing. As in any field of photography, here is the biggest challenge is to capture all the beauty of the canyon in a new and innovative way, to attract viewers a unique view of the already many inaccessible places such as canyons. The specificity of the canyon is that they are made of rocks, moss, grass, trees, water… They often have very little light that aggravated shooting. Predrag has, of course, applied his extensive experience in shooting a variety of sports and he used the underwater housing for his “baby” Nikon D3 to be photographed directly from the water in such a way that half of the photo is shot under water, and half of water. Cracks through which the sun penetrates used in a similar manner as when photographed under water and so they created images that evoke the extraordinary way the beauty of the requirements of the terrain. Even wearing a small tripod (although he makes 90 percent of pictures from a hand), a tripod is essential when the amount of light is minimal.
When asked how he created these shots, Predrag says with a smile: “Tuff!” Basically, while is in the water that is very cold, about 5-6 degrees Celsius, or with legs relied on some rocks under the water to be stable because exposures are often very long due to the aforementioned lack of light. When we add a few hours in water, it is clear how this is a difficult and demanding endeavor. The specificity of the canyon is that there is no turning back, only going the other way so you should take into account the time that the team does not catch the dark, although the Predrag’s team did slept in the canyon in order to complete everything they had in mind though this is not recommended.
Of equipment on your feet wear special shoes and socks that keep your body temperature. Diving suit, a climbing helmet, belt with all safety equipment (tools) for lowering and securing the rope. Predrag carries his equipment in a backpack with a waterproof bag (sometimes suitcase).
This team consists of eight permanent people, and sometimes of guests. Thanks to good teamwork, the team can get through any canyon, with its accompanying and photographic equipment. Milos and Predrag are the organizers of all the expeditions, and Milos provides much of the technical support. They manage to overcome all obstacles and all the ideas to implement in practice, largely thanks to Milos’s experience.
Predrag Vuckovic puts canyoning at the top by the difficulty of shooting, but his experience in a great way facilitate his work. The amount of adrenaline and the challenges that the sport brings with it put it in one of the most extreme sports, and at the same time and one of the most beautiful because it is a combination of spending time outdoors and sports. All this usually takes three to five days full of divine adventure and return to the pristine nature which, unfortunately, is so rare on our planet.
Depending on the type of the canyon Predrag decides which equipment to take. The most basic of all is the Nikon D3 and three lenses (16 mm, 14-24 mm and 17-35 mm). There is also an underwater housing that should be mentioned that is very sensitive to bumps and scratches, and the terrain is very demanding and rude.
He uses wide-angle lenses to capture the ambience of the canyon, which is always very narrow. Strong light lenses are required because there is no light in the canyon. Predrag marks it out as a challenge for the photographer because of poor lighting conditions to capture the good and attractive picture. In narrow canyons he likes to focus on the light holes as he is using them as a light beam that illuminates something or someone in the canyon, and it is used as an emphasis on photography.
Never uses a flash!
An important factor in the shooting is the water temperature which is always below 12 degrees Celsius. It is so hard to stay in such a cold water and photograph. For example, in the canyon Grlja, water is only six degrees Celsius, and the passage takes about 4-5 hours. The problem of cold water is that the lens is fogging, so often he has to wait until the fog off, although partially underwater housing makes it easier because it’s always under water. For this reason you should not often remove the camera from water as not to be exposed to drastic temperature changes, but it depends on the photographer’s endurance due to the cold.
The whole team use diving suits of 5, 6 or 7 mm, depending on the canyon and the water temperature. However, there are canyons that are passed by almost 13 to 14 hours! It doesn’t allow focus only on the photography, but constant concentration must be present and focused on passing conditions, safety, security and equipment. However, in the expedition team of "Extreme Canyoning" everything is subordinated to good photography, and the whole team works on it.
Due to lack of light Predrag is often photographing with long exposure, about 1/30-40 s, and uses a high sensitivity, but not more then ISO 2000. Specific detail is exceptional transparency of the water that can not be found elsewhere, because here is extremely clean and due to constant flow the water has carved the rocks and there is nothing more to make it dirty. For Predrag, as a photographer, that crystal clear water is the biggest challenge, and therefore he takes split photos under water.
The focus is mainly on the surface of the water because a man is usually there. And he always determines the shooting parameters based on the main motive.
When shooting in the water, often stuck between two rocks, or sitting on a rock, sometimes he has to crucify the rope if the water is fast or hang from the rope. Also, he floats on water but then the problem is water bearing. In essence, he’s always doing something and thinking of how to do something, makes many ideas real, so the time passes quickly and the low temperature of the water is no longer the primary, it doesn’t feel so.
Great team’s support is the company "Iglu Sport", which provides them with the latest equipment necessary for survival in extreme conditions.