Big Wall Rock Climbing Photography Techniques

Verdon Gorge, France. A veritable treasure trove of amazing shots for the discerning adventure and extreme sports photographer. Adventure photographer and filmmaker Keith Ladzinski—accompanied his friends who were attempting a big wall climb at Verdon Gorge—armed himself with a Nikon D500, SB-5000 lights, a drone and a plethora of climbing gear. His idea? To capture a shot of his friends attempting a big wall climb while hanging 500 feet from the ground and to light the climbers with lights suspended in mid-air:

A light-weight camera that doubles as a fantastic still shooter as well as a 4K video shooter is probably the best possible gear for a shoot like this. It gave Ladzinski ample shooting options, all of which you can try out without having to lug around a lot of gear.

How to photograph extreme sports

Big wall climb at Verdon Gorge

A light weight camera that has 4K capabilities has fringe benefits as well. You can mount it on a drone and shoot stunning aerial footage with it in addition to stills.

how to photograph climbers

Keith Ladzinski photographing the climbers

Hanging precariously over a canyon cliff 500 feet in the air, Ladzinski attempted to get close to where the action is in order to photograph the climbers.

extreme sports photography

A lightweight, fast camera is handy when you are in a situation like this

For low light shots, being able to use a high ISO number is crucial. Using a camera that has the ability to produce clean frames with a lot of dynamic range even at high ISO is the key. Ladzinski had the models wear safety lamps. That not only gave him a reference point but also additional light to focus with.

low light high ISO performance

Having the ability to shoot clean files at high ISO is crucial

For his last and most epic setup, Ladzinski fired off-camera lights from an angle that’s impossible without a drone system. This off-camera lighting technique involved using a drone to carry two SB-5000 lights and fire at the climbers while being suspended in the air.

gorge climbing drone photography

Lighting a Climber with Drone-Mounted Strobes

The result was this breathtaking shot:

photographing a rock climber

Final Image

Pretty amazing isn’t?

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