How Michael Clark Captured National Geographic's "Extreme Photo of the Week"

National Geographic has chosen one of my recent windsurfing images, which was shot while on assignment with Red Bull, for their "Extreme Photo of the Week" gallery on the Adventure page of their website.

This image of top windsurfer Levi Siver (see below) was shot near Gold Beach, Oregon while hanging out of a helicopter. Levi broke the world record for the highest wind surfing jump and he used an extremely accurate measuring device to gauge just how far above the water he was able to get. The measuring device, soon to come on the market, plugs into a smartphone and is accurate to 3mm.

Levi Siver - Action Michael Clark's image from a recent Red Bull Assignment with pro-windsurfer Levi Siver that National Geographic named as "Extreme Photo of the Week"

Even though Levi broke the world record on this outing, he has not promoted that world record just yet as he wants to go even bigger this fall if the conditions at JAWS, on the north shore of Maui, come into form as expected.

As usual, working with Red Bull is always a pleasure. This assignment was tough in many ways because the conditions required were extreme: we needed both big waves and high-speed winds. Just keeping the camera gear safe from blowing sand was a major epic. Shooting from the helicopter was much easier and resulted in some stunning images. In addition to shooting stills, there was also
a five man video crew shooting a short film as well. Hence, all of use were careful to make sure we weren’t getting in each others shots. Because there was a whole separate video crew, I only shot stills on this assignment.

Below is the text from National Geographic. For a full report on this assignment, check out my newsletter and turn to page 20 for On Assignment: Red Bull Windboost story, National Geographic "Extreme Photo of the Week" which shows a variety of images from this shoot and goes into more details about what it took to get the images on this assignment.

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Windsurfing on the Pistol River, Oregon
"I remember being really cold, but I wanted to get a few more moments in with the helicopter before the sun set," says windsurfer Levi Siver, who was shooting for the upcoming film WindBoost. "I felt very blessed sailing late into the sunset having that beautiful canvas behind me."

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Located a six-hour drive from Portland, this coastal spot is always windy and picks up swell from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. "It’s a pretty remote place, but windsurfers from around the world have been coming here for decades," Siver says.

"Using the wind as your energy, you end up riding five times as many waves as you would surfing," notes Siver, who lives in Maui. "It used to bother me that mainstream America is so out of touch with how progressive the level of windsurfing is now. But popularity means more crowds, which equals less fun."

Getting the Shot
"I shot over 800 images in an hour while in the helicopter," says adventure photographer Michael Clark, who got this image while on assignment for Red Bull. "With such high winds, the helicopter gets buffeted around quite a bit. Just keeping the windsurfer in the frame can be difficult at times."

A veteran of photographing from a helicopter, Clark worked closely with the pilot. "Cody, of Apex Helicopters, was an excellent pilot and was able to get us down low, only ten feet off the water, and moving at the same speed as the windsurfer. As Siver aimed for the highest windsurfing jump, Clark kept shooting. "It was incredible to see him go to work, and his windsurfing abilities were absolutely incredible to watch," Clark says.

Clark photographed the image with a Nikon D4 and a Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm, f/2.8G ED VRII lens.

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My thanks to Red Bull for yet another amazing assignment, to Levi Siver for being such a stellar athlete and for working extremely hard for hours on end so that we could get the images we wanted. My thanks also to National Geographic for putting the word out there. And finally, a big thank you to Apex Helicopters for all their tireless efforts to get us into position and follow Levi in the heat of the action.

If you would like to see an extended gallery of images from this photo shoot with Levi Siver, please check out the Red Bull Windboost gallery on my website.

[message_box title="Subscribe to the Michael Clark Newsletter" color="blue"]This is an excerpt from the Summer 2013 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter, used with permission. If you would like to subscribe to the Newsletter, which is free, please send Michael an email at info@michaelclarkphoto.com. Copyright © 2013.[/message_box]

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