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Red Bull Illume 2016 | Celebrating The Best Action & Adventure Photographers in the World

By Shivani Reddy on October 11th 2016

The Red Bull Illume Competition celebrates the daring action & adventure photographers of the world, commemorating their captures of glorious feats and unimaginable stunts. These artists balance the tight-rope marriage of technical skill and opportune moments to achieve unprecedented moments in time.

It was two-time winner Lorenz Holder that stole the show, receiving the most votes from the panel of 53 respected judges for his atmospheric shot of athlete Senad Grosic riding his BMX across a bridge in Germany. He was chosen from a pool of more than 5,645 photographers from more than 120 countries who submitted 34,624 mind-blowing images.

Here are the final 11 category winners and overall winner of the world’s premier international action and adventure sports photography contest unveiled at spectacular Winner Awards Ceremony in Chicago:

Overall winner & winner of Masterpiece Category: Lorenz Holder

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016, Location: Gablenz, Germany

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

“I’d chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot.”
Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, ISO 500, f/8, 1/640

winner of Wings Category: Micky Wiswedel

© Micky Wiswedel / Red Bull Illume 2016, Location: Cape Town, South Africa

© Micky Wiswedel / Red Bull Illume 2016, Location: Cape Town, South Africa

“Lighting is also difficult, as climbers prefer to climb in the shade as cooler temperatures provide more friction between skin and rock. This often means overexposed backgrounds and underexposed foregrounds. The best I could do in this situation was to shoot somewhere in the middle.”

Shot on Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM, ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/1600

winner of Sequence Category: Daniel Vojtěch

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Daniel Vojtěch / Red Bull Illume 2016

“The camera I used for this photo was Nikon D5 and Nikkor 16/2.8 fisheye because there was almost no space and I wanted to show inside the part of the airplane I was sitting to show the pilot’s POV.”

Shot on Nikon D5, Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 AF Fisheye, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/250

winner of Close-up Category: Denis Klero

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Denis Klero / Red Bull Illume 2016

“The main instruments in rock climbing are your hands and arms. It was a deal – we’d shoot a close-up of his hands. With the help of two medium soft box sets on both sides I focused on the hands and fingers, their owner hiding in the shade. I wanted the viewer to see more than just the hands of the athlete.”

Shot on Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, ISO 160, f/16, 1/160

winner of Playground Category: Lorenz Holder

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

“I shot this unique location a couple months before this action shoot as a landscape picture because I just liked the whole structure and the way it was integrated into the landscape. Senad had the idea to be dressed all white to give it more contrast, because I didn’t want to use flashes to keep the structure as evenly lit as possible. The angle is almost the same angle I chose for the landscape picture. It’s actually an architectural picture with the spice of action sports in it.”

Shot on Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, ISO 500, f/6.3, 1/400

winner of Mobile Category: Vegard Aasen

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Vegard Aasen / Red Bull Illume 2016

“We hiked for a while, and discovered a group hiking across the ridge above us. The wind and the clouds looked amazing, so my friend took out his camera and started shooting. I hated myself for not bringing my camera, but luckily I had my mobile phone in my pocket. I could not see anything on the screen, but obviously managed to aim pretty well. A week later, I scrolled through my phone, while waiting for sushi at a restaurant. I had completely forgotten about the shot, so I was pretty stoked when I found it. I edited it to black and white in Photoshop Express on my phone, and was really happy with the result.”

Shot on HUAWEI P8, ISO 64, f/2.0, 1/3200

winner of New creativity Category: Ale Di Lullo

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Ale Di Lullo / Red Bull Illume 2016

“Nobody had done an extreme sport shot from inside the car having the rider riding on the windshield. I understood that a shot like this had to be made in an iconic spot and the spot had to be in a city so it was clear that New York City with all its bridges was the place. And what could have been better than a NYC cab to shoot from?”

Shot on Canon EOS-1D X, Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/1600

winner of energy Category: Luke Shadbolt

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Luke Shadbolt / Red Bull Illume 2016

“The swell seemed to line up directly into this small crevice in the southern cliff and plumes of spray would catapult out at varying angles. Shooting from down the beach trying to capture some of these abstract formations I didn’t even notice Renan (pictured) in the shot until afterwards. It’s got a kind of duality to the meaning; it could be seen as a salute to the power and randomness of the ocean, or it could be seen as a mocking attempt at some kind of manipulated sorcery, showing man’s unending quest to control nature.”

Shot on Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM, ISO 160, f/8.0, 1/1000

winner of enhance Category: Dean Treml

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Dean Treml / Red Bull Illume 2016

“I remember while I was originally scoping out the location for this event thinking how surreal images could look without the diving platform jutting out, and just the small form of the diver, and the huge cantilevered roof dominating the frame, and even discussed it at the time with my wife (the photographer Romina Amato) who was also there.”

Shot on Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/4000

winner of spirit Category: Dean Treml

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Dean Treml / Red Bull Illume 2016

“In this image Josh Neilson of New Zealand is supported by fellow paddlers (L-R) Barnaby Prees, Sam Sutton, Tim Pickering, Ben Brown, Jamie Sutton and Jared Seiler as he waits for a helicopter evacuation after a bad landing off Matze’s Drop, Storulfossen, Norway on July 7th 2014. It left him with a broken L1 vertebrae.”

Shot on Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, ISO 400, f/2.0, 1/2500

winner of lifestyle Category: Jody MacDonald

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume 2016

© Jody MacDonald / Red Bull Illume 2016

“When I was young I used to look through National Geographic magazines and dream of adventures like this; train hopping through the Sahara on one of the world’s longest trains. Having only a few minutes to hop on the train in the middle of the night, we spent 15 long hours slithering through the desert on the three kilometer train that transports approximately 84 tons of iron ore across a country crippled by terrorism, slavery, and poverty.”

Shot on Leica X-U (Typ 113), 23.0mm f/1.7, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/500

Check out Red Bull Illume 2016 Gallery to be inspired by all of the winning artwork from the top 55 finalists.

CREDITS: Photographs by the Red Bull Illume 2016 Winners are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Fragiskos Penidis

    Looks like 5d III dominance the competition…. seven out of ten.

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  2. Bjoern Hirsch

    Some really great photography in this competition, but I disagree with many others on the winner . This bridge is restricted no go historical monument due to very poor condition of the bricks, so putting a bike rider there just to get the shot is not a good thing at all. The photographer puts bridge & the rider in danger … in line with some other people destroying monuments recently to just get a “cool” shot . Not good at all !!!

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