Capturing Extreme Sports With DroboExplorer Jon Williams

DroboExplorer, Jon Williams takes every opportunity he can to be outside and capture extreme sports and lifestyle content. He has worked with brands such as Red Bull, GoPro, DJI, Discovery Channel and many more. Read below to catch a glimpse of one of his latest adventures.

“I’m originally from Wales in the UK but am now living in the Bavarian mountains in Germany, working as a freelance photographer and videographer. Although I studied Psychology at University, my father was a pro photographer and that’s how I ended up in this line of work. As kids, my siblings and I were always shooting photos and short videos of us messing around outside on bikes and skateboards. I continued shooting for fun right through my teenage years and early adulthood until it got to the level that I was picking up work on the side with this hobby. When I realized I enjoyed my creative work far more than my academic work, I made the switch and have never looked back.

Photo of Jon Williams

I recently filmed the Austrian Red Bull athlete, Paul Guschlbauer taking part in a 4-man adventure relay race called the Red Bull Dolomitenmann that happens every year in Lienz, Austria. Paul is the paraglider in the team and the other guys do mountain running, mountain biking and kayaking. I worked with Paul this summer on another adventure race called the Red Bull X-Alps, shooting a daily vlog for him while he ran and flew across the Alps for two-weeks.

Photo of Paul Guschlbauer

Everything about shooting an event like this is a challenge – not only do I have to make sure I capture the most important moments but I have to juggle a hundred other things: do I have the right camera settings, do I have enough battery power, are my lenses and sensors clean, where should I position myself for the start/middle/end of the race, how am I getting from one location to the other, have we filmed everything we need to make this a good video, will this audio be usable…?

As I needed to run around a lot, I kept things light and shot with the Sony A7Rii and A6300 with a mixture of lenses by Zeiss, Sony and Sigma. Both Sonys shoot 4K and slow-mo in 1080p which is amazing considering the size and weight of the cameras. I use the Feiyu MG camera gimbal to keep things smooth when I’m walking or running and the Manfrotto BeFree Live tripod, again both chosen for their size and weight. For Drone shots we use the DJI Mavic, amazing quality and unbelievably compact. Everything fits into my Thule Aspect DSLR rucksack which has both a waist and a chest strap, really important for carrying a heavy bag for long periods of time on the move. Back at the hotel, I had my Macbook Pro and Drobo 5D3 for backing up and editing.

Photo of Paul Guschlbauer

There is a lot of planning beforehand, from scheduling to creating a shot list and storyboard. When it comes to shooting, we try and stick to this as much as possible, but these events always manage to throw a spanner in the works, so you have to be ready to adapt to last minute changes (watch the video to see exactly this happening when the format of the race had to change because of the wind!). Throughout the day, all the cameras shoot onto SD or Micro SD cards. I carry a memory card case with me with spare cards on the right hand side. When we fill up a card, it goes in the left hand side of the case and is replaced with one of the empty ones from the right hand side. After each full day of shooting, I gather all the memory cards and then back up everything onto my Drobo 5D3 back at the hotel.

Before owning a Drobo I had multiple external hard drives, all with different cables and different capacities. I would constantly have to move files around to try and free up enough space and I’d usually have to carry three or four drives with me to each shoot. It was a nightmare. I had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of what was on each drive and once I ended up losing a whole year’s worth of photos because I deleted them from one drive, thinking they were on another. There is a clear improvement across the board with my workflow and editing thanks to the Drobo and Seagate IronWolf Pro drives. Not only is everything more efficient by having the one Drobo but it is safer, more reliable and faster. Thanks to the Thunderbolt connection, I can store my Final Cut Libraries directly on the Drobo and edit from there, something I couldn’t do with other hard drives before without serious performance issues.

Jon William’s Workspace

If you’re just starting out with adventure and sports photography, I recommend building up your portfolio, experience and network by getting out there as much as possible. You can do this by reaching out to friends, athletes, mountain guides or sports companies in the area and ask to shoot with them. Don’t be afraid to offer to work for free or just for expenses in the beginning, especially if don’t have a proven portfolio of work yet. The advantage of doing this is that it’s a great way to test yourself, your gear and your workflow without the pressure of a paying client watching over your shoulder. In addition, get feedback from friends, family, other photographers and online communities about your work. An image/video you may not particularly rate yourself might be a hit with others and this will help you mould your portfolio into your best work. Lastly, when you feel that you have a solid body of work, share it! Not just on social media, but follow up with contacts, previous clients, online blogs and let them know about what you’ve been up to. Being proactive like this will help you secure more work than just hoping clients will come knocking on your door.”


Jon Williams’ Website

Jon Williams’ DroboExplorer Page

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