The best bike photography of the year?

by 21

It’s Red Bull Illume time. Appearing towards the end of the year, this sports photography competition is always worthy of your eyeballs.

Red Bull Illume showcases some the most creative and captivating action sports imagery of the year. The ten category winners at the seventh edition of the contest featured climbers, kayakers, surfers, and bikers. We’re jsut focusing on the bikers here. You should also go and check out the rest of the category finalists too, there’s some amazing stuff in there.

The winning images were selected by an international 52-member jury who judged the shots without any information about the image, or the photographer.

Name: Denis Klero, Country: Russia

Credits
Photographer: © Denis Klero / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Aleksander Apukhtin (Social Media: @apukhtinalex)
Location: Wood Studio, Moscow, Russia

Camera: Sony Alpha 1
Lens: ZEISS Planar T* 1.4/50
ISO: 160
F-Stop: 10
Shutter Speed: 1/200

The Shot:
“The connection of times, modern trends, and forward movement are reflected in this work. Antique art, which is the foundation of modern art and which has given so much to our world today, is receding into the background, but it is not disappearing and new heroes are coming to the forefront. Time will tell how long they will stay in the spotlight, we only have to watch and admire their virtuoso and sometimes dangerous performance of fantastic tricks.”

Name: Dmitry Bulin, Country: Russia

Credits
Photographer: © Dmitry Bulin / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Anton Evstifeev (Social Media: @evstifeev)
Location: Dmitry Bulin Studio, Moscow, Russia

Camera: Canon EOS 5DS
Lens: Canon EF 35mm f1.4
ISO: 100
F-Stop: 11
Shutter Speed: 1/160 (flash), 1/13 (light)

The Shot:
“My friend Anton Evstifeev is a professional BMX athlete. He suggested that I shoot something for the competition. But I’m not a sports photographer, so I thought I might try the creative category. We took the picture in my home studio. And we used a lighting device that I made myself, to create a light tunnel.”

Name: Hannes Berger, Country: Austria

Credits
Photographer: © Hannes Berger / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Fabio Wibmer (Social Media: @wibmerfabio)
Location: Desert, Alsisar, India

Camera: Sony α9 II
Lens: Sigma Art 14–24mm f2.8
ISO: 200
F-Stop: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/1600

The Shot:
“We were on a location check in India, near Alsisar. Our guide mentioned a neighboring desert. Fabio and I exchanged a meaningful look, because the idea of shooting in the desert had been haunting us for some time. The next day, we strapped his bike onto a jeep and set off. Once we found the ideal spot, the action started. The soft sand, however, presented an unexpected challenge. After about 100 attempts, the camera angle and trick finally clicked to create this photo. We were both overjoyed to see our vision finally realised.”

Name: Juan Garcia Prieto, Country: Chile

Credits
Photographer: © Juan Garcia Prieto / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Jorge Arias (Social Media: @kaziquebmx111._)
Location: Parque Araucano, Santiago, Chile

Camera: DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Lens: Hasselblad L1D-20c 28mm
ISO: Auto
F-Stop: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/500

The Shot:
“The photo captures a personal challenge I had been wanting to undertake for several years, but I was unsure of the best approach. I reached out to Jorge Arias, better known as Kazique, with whom I had become friends a few years back, for the audiovisual realization of a project. He is an extraordinary individual; He’s profoundly attuned to the spiritual, elevating his BMX maneuvers to a whole new realm.

“The image freezes the moment when Kazique performs a backflip over a water fountain. As the camera clicks, the essence of his adventurous spirit, combined with his spiritual connection, is beautifully encapsulated.

This photograph is a testament to the power of friendship and the pursuit of personal growth. It symbolizes the fusion of courage and spirituality, reminding us all that sometimes, the most rewarding challenges are those that lead us to uncover depths within ourselves we never knew existed. In Jorge, I found not only a partner for this visual project but also an inspiration – a reminder that with the right mindset, we can defy gravity both in our passions and in life itself.”

Name: Lorenz Holder, Country: Germany

Credits
Photographer: © Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Senad Grosic (Social Media: @senadgrosic)
Location: La Muralla Roja, Calp, Spain

Camera: Canon EOS R5
Lens: Canon RF 28–70mm F2L USM
ISO: 200
F-Stop: 8
Shutter Speed: 1/640

The Shot:
“La Muralla Roja is a huge apartment complex in the Spanish town Calp and was built by Ricardo Bofill in 1969. This building is just a miracle itself – there are stairs, small corridors, platforms and concrete walls everywhere and it’s very easy to lose orientation. The building is divided in different zones that are all colored differently in pastel tones, but work together beautifully. Just walking through this masterpiece is breathtaking and you feel instantly transferred into a different world.

For Senad and I, this was just an playground with almost unlimited spots and opportunities, where we both could live out our creativity.

For this shot, I wanted to show the variety of pastel colors and different structures and compose this with an BMX-trick of Senad with the right balance of architecture and action sports. We had to wait a little bit, till the sun was at the right place, to illuminate all the scene pretty equality, so the colors of the building would show its full potential without having shadows within the image.”

Name: Keenan Meyer, Country: South Africa

Credits
Photographer: © Keenan Meyer / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Murray Loubser (Social Media: @mr.moo__)
Location: Maidens Cove, Cape Town, South Africa

Camera: Sony α6000
Lens: Sony 70–210mm
ISO: 800
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1000

The Shot:
“Murray actually found the spot, it is pretty much the back of an old braai area in Maidens Cove that he has ridden a few times but always had an eye on the prize hiding behind it facing the sea. Like anything worth having, it wasn’t going to be easy.

“So Murray messaged me that he was psyched to shoot this trick and spot he had been planning but warned me off what it would require to make it happen. After sending me a couple videos and photos we both got an idea of what we needed to do it. I had to bring the wood for the run up and he would bring a shovel for the sand and take off.

“After using old wall panels from Bloc 11 Climbing Gym to build our run up, we realized after a couple of goes that we were about 30m too short. So paddling across soft beach sand and humps of granite from so far that I almost had to call him to tell him to go.

“In pure class, style and touch of luck with the hired birds, Murray pulled off probably the sickest street flair I’ve ever seen to date and I was lucky enough to get the shot!”

Name: Martin Bissig, Country: Switzerland

Credits
Photographer: © Martin Bissig / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Tom Oehler (Social Media: @tom_oehler)
Location: AlUla, Saudi Arabia

Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon RF 15–35mm f2.8L
ISO: 200
F-Stop: 10
Shutter Speed: 1/400

The Shot:
“During my Saudi Arabia shoot prep, a desert mirror building captivated me. Unexpectedly, it was reserved for hotel guests and concert attendees. Yet, with our local guide’s help and some smooth talking, we bypassed security. Alone with the surreal structure, we didn’t hesitate. Tom Oehler, my talented friend and bike model for that shoot, turned this non-traditional backdrop into mountain biking terrain. Reviewing the shots, it was clear: we had captured a singular image, a mountain biker in a setting as unique as it was unforeseen.”

Name: Jb Liautard, Country: France

Credits
Photographer: © Jb Liautard / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Kilian Bron (Social Media: @kilianbron)
Location: Nazca, Peru

Camera: DJI Air 2S
Lens: DJI 22mm f2.8
ISO: 100
F-Stop: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/1000

The Shot:
“We were shooting for a week around Cusco with the whole video team but when they left, we changed my flight to come to this place, I had to wait a couple more days at the hotel as Kilian had a race at the end of the week. The minute after he crossed the finish line, we took a car and drove 12 hours on mountain roads from 6PM to 6AM. We arrived at the hotel in the morning and after a quick nap, we were headed to the highest dune in the world.

“We only had one evening and one morning there as our plane was leaving from Lima the next day. We had to have good weather and all conditions come together. I was suffering from a knee injury and had to climb up the 500m high dune with almost just one leg. I flew my drone once up there and the view was absolutely breathtaking. The wind just shaped that huge dune with a perfect pattern, the same pattern we can see on a way smaller scale. It was so perfect it almost looked fake.

“Once I decided which line I wanted Kilian to ride, it was go time and we were lucky enough that he made a turn at the perfect moment to lift up some sand. It was that one shot this whole part of the trip was all about.”

Name: Satoshi Saijo, Country: Japan

Credits
Photographer: © Satoshi Saijo / Red Bull Illume
Athletes: Tomomi Nishikubo (Social Media: @tomomi_nishikubo) & Yuki Kishi (Social Media: @yuki_kishi_)
Location: Futtsumisaki, Chiba, Japan

Camera: Nikon D850
Lens: 24–70mm f2.8
ISO: 400
F-Stop: 4
Shutter Speed: 1/8000

The Shot:
“I had been checking out this place for a long time, waiting for the day to have a photoshoot session with these guys.

“I already knew this place but when push comes to shove, I was blown away from the size of the building. I had a hard time deciding the shooting angle and how to express the massive size of the building but not killing the dynamic move of the riders.

“The shape of the building was an impressive skip-floor style structure, so I had the riders do tricks on each floor, right in the middle of the photo, and I got a shot from the lower angle to make the structure look more dynamic and looming.

“As a result, the riders were able to create an impressive work, blending into both sky and this unique building, not losing the air of their tricks.”

Name: Lorenz Holder, Country: Germany

Credits
Photographer: © Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Senad Grosic (Social Media: @senadgrosic)
Location: La Muralla Roja, Calp, Spain

Camera: Canon EOS R5
Lens: Canon RF 15–35mm f/2.8L
ISO: 800
F-Stop: 4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/400

The Shot:
“The building La Muralla Roja is a huge apartment complex in the Spanish town Calp and was built in 1969 by the architect Ricardo Bofill. This beautiful building is just a miracle itself – there are stairs, small corridors, platforms and huge concrete walls everywhere and it’s very easy to loose orientation within this complex. The building is divided in different zones, that are all colored differently in pastel tones, but match very beautifully together. Just walking through this masterpiece of architecture is breathtaking and you feel instantly transferred into a different world. When I look at this image, it just reminds me so much of the M.C. Escher painting with the optical illusion staircase.

“Senad and I shot multiple images during our session in the building complex but I knew that this would probably be a very strong one, but we had to wait a long time to shoot it. During the day, the sun comes from the top and drops a shadow and a very bright area on the walls. To have a beautiful, even light on the walls we waited till the sun has set and made this the last shot of our shooting in this unique location.”

Name: Daniel Bernstål, Country: Sweden

Credits
Photographer: © Daniel Bernstål / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Daniel Swanbeck (Social Media: swanbeeck)
Location: Källviken, Sweden

Camera: Nikon D850
Lens: NIKKOR 50mm
ISO: 160
F-Stop: 8
Shutter Speed: 4,9

The Shot:
“Long shutters and flashes has always been a passion of mine. To create a photo where you can’t see what the end result is gonna be like is getting me pumped! So for this shot I wanted to create a silhouette shot with long light trails. To freeze the action of the jumping rider I used a flash with really short flash duration and then I used a smoke grenade so I could light the rider from behind and get that classic silhouette look. When the MTB rider knew that he was going to jump in almost complete darkness he wasn’t too stoked. On top of that it was so hard to get the smoke to stay in one place. The slightest wind just blew everything the wrong direction. After a lot of tries Daniel Swanbeck finally managed to time the smoke and when the photo lit up on the back on my camera I was so stoked on the result and it actually turned out better than I expected!”

Name: Léo Grosgurin, Country: France

Credits
Photographer: © Léo Grosgurin / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Arthur Deblonde (Social Media: @arthurdeblonde)
Location: Briançon, France

Camera: Nikon D5
Lens: Sigma 85mm
ISO: 320
F-Stop: 1.4
Shutter Speed: 1/250

The Shot:
“This was for me one of the most difficult shots to take. In a windy week, a lot of larch in the valley were losing their thorns. So we were looking for the most beautiful larch around Briançon in France, and fortunately came across this magnificent tree with the waterfalls as a backdrop. Everything was perfect. We came in the morning to create a jump, then had to find a yellow sweater for Arthur that would perfectly match the tree!

“I hooked a flash on a drone and had it flown over the jump and the tree, the drone fell several times due to the wind and the flash weight. Our shot window was very short, I absolutely wanted to have the waterfalls in the background while having the tree and Arthur well lit by the flash. A single test allowed us to have all the conditions united in a single perfect shot.”

Name: Christoph Laue, Country: Germany

Credits
Photographer: © Christoph Laue / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Julian Clauss (Social Media: @julianclauss)
Location: Schornbachtalbrücke, Schorndorf, Germany

Camera: Nikon Z 9
Lens: NIKKOR Z 14–24mm
ISO: 640
F-Stop: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/800

The Shot:
“My daughter got a DIY-kaleidoscope for her birthday. Together we built the kaleidoscope with all its mirrors and colorful stones. While we built it, I started to play with the reflections and effects of the kaleidoscope. I made some shots with my mobile and started to understand how the arrangements of the mirrors create unique and fascinating effects.

“The decision was clear, I had to build it bigger and give it a try with action sports. After I had found three similar mirrors, the game was on. The location under the bridge was the perfect fit as I had a certain idea of lines and geometry in my head. Julian’s motivation to create a unique shot was – as always – high. The challenge for my buddy-assistant Jochen was to balance my homemade duck-taped triangle of mirrors in the right angle. We hid the strobes and played around with the light, the colors, the lines of the mirrors and the architecture of the bridge. We were happy when we figured out the perfect combination of Julian’s action and the other elements of the setting. What I like about the shot is that you can always be inspired by little things in life when you listen to your inner child.”

redbullilllume.com

Join our mailing list to receive Singletrack editorial wisdom directly in your inbox.

Each newsletter is headed up by an exclusive editorial from our team and includes stories and news you don’t want to miss.

Sign up to receive awesome editorial content from Hannah every week.

Check your inbox for our confirmation email and click the link to activate your newsletter.
We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

More Reviews

SRAM Maven Ultimate Expert Kit: first ride review

TLDR: the SRAM Maven Ultimate brakes offer bucket loads in a very usable package. A few…

Calibre Line T3 29 review

The Calibre Line T3 29 is a mighty fine first 'proper mountain bike', that will be…

Canyon Spectral CF 9: First Fortnight Findings

The new Canyon Spectral CF trail bike has dropped a bit of travel but added the…

Litelok X1: Angle grinder resistance for peace of mind

The Litelok X1 was launched amid much social media and YouTube hype, with videos of angle…

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)
  • The best bike photography of the year?
  • boco
    Full Member

    Love Lorentz Holder’s shot, brilliant!

    weeksy
    Full Member

    If my photography answer is dictated by “which would i put on my wall”..

    Hannes Berger….

    The rest are IMO absolutely bloody awful.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I am left rather nonplussed by a load of those. They seem rather artificial and contrived.
    Frankly, STW has better photos regularly.

    vmgscot
    Full Member

    I am definitely drawn to the more “natural/riding” type of shots than the “arty/farty” end of the scale.
    Have that Jb Liautard shot on my screensaver roll.
    Maybe an STW equivalent to PB Photo of the Year (forum members not paid staff/contributors) might be an interesting idea?

    kayak23
    Full Member

    Love this

    Screenshot_20231205-104555

    hightensionline
    Full Member

    Red Bull, so preferably both wheels off the ground, but at least one. Or trials, so a sense of precariousness.
    It’s not for me; I’m also in the ‘STW covers are better’ camp.

    justinbieber
    Full Member

    If I may blow my own trumpet for a moment, I was dead chuffed to get an image through to the semi finals of the competition. A shot not too dissimilar to one that graced the cover of this publication (there’s a magazine?): https://www.redbullillume.com/int-en/photographers/james-vincent

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Maybe an STW equivalent to PB Photo of the Year (forum members not paid staff/contributors) might be an interesting idea

    Yes please…

    Bez
    Full Member

    I do love the aesthetics of La Muralla Roja, but it’s a heavily photographed location and the sort of place where you’d have to work hard to take a duff image. I’m surprised it was a category winner when it leans so hard on a readymade backdrop. There are many other bike images in the pool that make much more creative use of less well-trodden (and often far more mundane) locations, most of them showcasing more impressive action as well. It’s definitely worth browsing the whole gallery.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Maybe an STW equivalent to PB Photo of the Year (forum members not paid staff/contributors) might be an interesting idea

    This has happened several times – the late simonfbarnes won it one year.

    I am left rather nonplussed by a load of those. They seem rather artificial and contrived.

    +1. The contrived, arty and (for most people) completely unattainable riding style is just a complete turn off. Not interested in the slightest. Give me some natural riding achievable by “the normal rider” in normal locations, not some purpose built ramp in Utah only accessible by helicopter for 7 selected riders.

    colournoise
    Full Member

    +1 to some kind of STW forum photography contest (or even just a showcase or gallery).

    And I also found most of those trying a bit too hard. While I can appreciate the skill and effort, the end results left me a bit cold in most cases. Did quite like the Bissig, Bernstal and Grosgurin images though.

    chaos
    Full Member

    Love the Crocs in the first pic.

    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    Yeah, just a bit too “arty” maybe. I love the first Lorenz Holder apartments one (he’s got 2 in the list), but not seen any photos of it before myself.
    The first 2 don’t do anything for me.
    Nice that the high res images are available with a right-click, I shal “borrow” a few for wallpaper 🙂

    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    Some pretty special pics in the gallery.
    This one is something a bit different. Like it 🙂
    https://www.redbullillume.com/int-en/photos/janik-steiner-masterpiece-by-soelden

    ThruntonThrasher
    Free Member

    Why are photos from Russia even in the competition?

    chrismac
    Full Member

    To answer the ops title then it’s a simple no.  These aren’t even close to being the best bike photographs of the year. The PB a contest in previous years has had a far higher standard of images in it than these.

    I can admire the extremely high level of photoshop skill that appears to have gone into these but wouldn’t give any of them wall space or even have as my computer wallpaper for a while

    Marko
    Full Member

    @colournoise

    +1 to some kind of STW forum photography contest (or even just a showcase or gallery).

    You’ll have to judge it though, so you can’t enter 😋

    chakaping
    Free Member

    The Nazca one by JB is a classic.

    I do love the aesthetics of La Muralla Roja, but it’s a heavily photographed location and the sort of place where you’d have to work hard to take a duff image. I’m surprised it was a category winner when it leans so hard on a readymade backdrop.

    I’d agree with this. Bit too confected, but the contest seems to have an arty-farty angle eh?

    Kaleidoscope one is very striking, otherwise I think I prefer James’s image to a lot of these.

    Don’t get the one of the lad doing a tailwhip in the desert at all.

     

    RustyNissanPrairie
    Full Member

    Meh!….A russian doing some 1980’s flatland move whilst wearing crocs but trying to ‘do art’ , another Russian wearing a fez and carrying a briefcase on his commute to the Ukrainian front lines.
    A few are taken from the Squidgames set/studios.

    The tree one is the best but the blurb mentioned the waterfall in the background that I can barely see.

    Far better pics on the daily photos thread!

    leffeboy
    Full Member

    Frankly, STW has better photos regularly

    None of those photos created any sort of emotion in me.  I can understand that they were difficult to take or the riding was awesome but nothing touched me at all :(.
    Buy the mag 🙂

    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    Why are photos from Russia even in the competition?

    Hardly the place for that. Find a different thread or go make one.

    .

    A to the photographs and subject at hand, few floated my boat, and like others here wonder why they all have to be taken in mid air 😕

    I’d prefer to see cycling in the great outdoors, some mountain or green hills or snow covered peaks in the background.

    I know its Red Bull, but come on. Makes it less about cycling in general and more about promoting Red Bull events.

     

     

Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.