Q & A with Travis Burke

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Travis Burke’s diverse and creative approach to action and adventure photography stems from his own perspective on life. He approaches it with a dedication to conquering anything thrown at him and to not living with regrets. Whether hanging from a 500’ bridge, riding a jet ski over shark infested waters or hiking alone in the dark of night to remote locations, Travis is constantly pushing himself and the limits of his photography. Travis’ client list includes working with world-class companies such as ESPN, Skullcandy, GoPro and more. His drive for adventure and mastery of photography has earned him the staff photographer position for GrindTV.com. He is currently satisfying his thirst for adventure shooting stories for Grind’s featured blog called “The Bucket List”.

 

Tamrac: How did you get into photography?

Travis: Back in 2008 I was planning a solo road trip to Yosemite National Park and decided to pick up a DSLR camera to try and capture the experience. I had no knowledge of shutter speeds, Aperture, ISO or any other camera settings at the time. After spending a week camping, exploring, and hiking to the top of Half Dome with my camera, I knew I had found something I was passionate about. Its been an amazing journey ever since.

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Tamrac: You were recently featured on Yahoo for your assignment into the Antelope Canyons in Arizona.  Can you tell us more about that?

Travis: A few months ago I took a ninety-five day road trip around the Western United States and got to explore some amazing places. I wrote a story for GrindTV about one of my favorite locations, the Antelope Canyons. The unique shapes, light, and pure beauty of these slot canyons make them some of the best in the world. My boss at Grind submitted the story to Yahoo News and it ended up being featured on the front page. It brought some great exposure and we’re currently working on getting some more featured stories up soon!

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Tamrac: Not only do you love to photograph Action Sports but you also love to be a part of them yourself!  Do you have a favorite sport and why?

Travis: Ever since I can remember I have had a love for all action sports. I started skateboarding at age 3 and as a teenager skateboarding took over my life. I got to the point where I was attempting tricks that few very skaters in the world were trying at the time, but after multiple ankle injuries I basically had to give up the sport. That left me with a very empty feeling inside and it wasn’t until I started pushing myself again in multiple other action sports that the feeling went away. Now any free time I have is spent devoted to trying to progress in every sport. From rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing, kite-skateboarding, slacklining and a million others.

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Skateboarding and action sports in general have taught me a tremendous amount about life. If you have confidence, dedication, willpower and a positive attitude you can accomplish just about anything in the world.

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Tamrac: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who want to shoot action and adventure photography?

Travis: Be passionate about what you’re shooting! I have found that if I participate in the activity and know it well, it gives me a better understanding of the angles, tricks, timing, and overall representation of the sport.

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Tamrac: Tell us one place that you have not been but would love to photograph and why?

Travis: There is a little place called Havasu Falls in Arizona that I am excited to check off my bucket list later this year. It’s a mixture of backpacking, breathtaking waterfalls, remote locations, and cliff jumping. Everything I could ask for in an awesome adventure.

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Tamrac: How has Social Media helped you as a photographer?

Travis: Social Media has played a huge role in my photography. It’s a great way to share my images as well as follow other creative individuals that inspire me. I have met new clients, made friends, sold images, and obtained sponsorships because of it. It’s a great tool that everyone should be utilizing these days.

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Tamrac: What is your favorite action movie?

Travis: The Art of Flight. It’s a snowboarding movie that has incredible cinematography, extreme progression of a sport, adventure and an awesome soundtrack.

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Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?

Travis: I’ve been using Tarmac bags since my first exploration into Yosemite. The diverse selection available makes it easy to find a bag that fits my exact needs. They are rugged enough to handle the elements while protecting my gear and still making it easy for me to access everything I need.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?

Travis: Expedition 7x, Adventure 10, Jazz Messenger 2 and Explorer 15.

Time Lapse Guru Tom Lowe Q&A

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The Astronomy Photographer of the Year award winning image which features features a 4,000 year old bristlecone pine tree against the Milky Way. This photo is actually a single frame of time laps footage featured in Tom’s film TimeScapes.

Recently we caught up with Tom Lowe, time lapse photography guru, to pick his brain about his technique, gear, and adventures! If you’re not familiar with Tom’s work, you should be! Tom and his production company Dreamcore were instrumental in the resurgence of time-lapse photography by pioneering new techniques and designing motorized time-lapse dollies and motion-control systems for capturing the mesmerizing visuals that define the genre. He is also working on bringing like-minded creatives together through his online community forum at TimeScapes.org.

Tamrac: You have done some impressive work with time lapse photography. What is it about time lapse photography that has drawn you to this
technique?

Tom: The main draw for me was the ability to film at night, capturing the stars and the moonlight.  You simply cannot do that with conventional movie cameras or techniques. Second, time lapse is a great way to get into film making, because the gear is relatively inexpensive. When I first started in late 2006, using a $600 Canon 350D Rebel,  I was able to shoot incredibly sharp 1080p+ video that totally blew away the images from Sony’s top-of-the-line, $200,000 F900 digital movie camera.

Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Producer, Tom Lowe

Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Producer, Tom Lowe

Tamrac: Your film TimeScapes [view the trailer at the end of this post] showcases your stunning time lapse photography work and is the first film to be released for purchase in 4K. Along with pushing the boundaries of distribution, what are some of the boundaries of the time lapse technique that the process of making this film gave you the opportunity to push?

Tom: Without question, no film has ever contained anywhere near the amount of dark-skies (Milky Way) astro-time-lapse that “TimeScapes” has.  Director Ron Fricke and  producer Mark Magidson’s 1992 film “Baraka” was and remains a huge inspiration to me, but they were limited in what they could shoot at night due to the low ISO/ASA rating of chemical 65mm film.  Basically, they could only shoot in moonlight, but they could not capture the Milky Way. The higher sensitivity of digital cameras, especially when coupled with modern cinema and stills lenses, also allowed me to really push the boundaries of how time lapse cameras can move.  Instead of just using dollies, sliders and jibs, I was shooting astro-timelapse from moving cars and boats.

Tom attaching his camera to the windshield of his truck.

Tom attaching his camera to the windshield of his truck.

Tamrac: TimeScapes took you 2 years to film during which you spent 250 nights sleeping outside under the stars as your cameras shot through till morning. Do you have any  funny/interesting stories you’d like to share that happened on your two year adventure?

Life of a time lapse shooter. Members of the Dreamcore team, Ben and Mike, camping out on an unfinished tower in Dubai

Life of a time lapse shooter. Members of the Dreamcore team, Ben and Mike, camping out on an unfinished tower in Dubai

Tom: Well, let’s put it this way.  Aside from gas and food, our largest line item production expense on “TimeScapes” was… beer!  At Dreamcore, our motto is “Film like Terrence Malick, Party like Led Zepplin.”  So we had hundreds of epic nights blasting dubstep at
all-night bonfire parties in some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth.

Location scouting and camping under the stars in Yemen.

Location scouting and camping under the stars in Yemen.

Tamrac: What kind of cameras and lenses are you using to capture these images?

Tom: Our main camera on “TimeScapes” was a Canon 5D Mark 2, with a Canon 16-35mm lens.  That is a timelapse workhorse combination.  But we also used a special, modified Canon 1D4 camera with a PL mount, which allowed us to use the 1D4 with the super-fast 16mm f/1.2 Zeiss/Arri Master Prime 16mm lens.  Without the Master Prime, I simply would not have been able to successfully film the “astro boatlapse” sequence at Lake Powell, for example.

Getting ready to shoot with his Canon and Optimo combo in Dubai.

Getting ready to shoot with his Canon and Optimo combo in Dubai.

Tamrac: What kind of equipment are you using to get such fluid camera motion?

Tom: I used Kessler and camBLOCK motion-control gear on “TimeScapes.”  We actually invented some new rigs while shooting as well, like the Kessler “Timelapse Crane” setup. That piece of gear was spawned from an informal phone conversation I had one morning with Eric Kessler.

Sunset time lapse with the Kessler Crane CineDrive motion control system in Jordan.

Sunset time lapse with the Kessler Crane CineDrive motion control system in Jordan.

Tamrac: You sent us a really cool picture of a number of Expedition backpacks piled in the back of an SUV getting ready for a shoot. So how many Expeditions are you using for all your gear and what is it that you like about your Expedition backpacks?

Loaded up with Expedition 9x after Expedition 9x.

Loaded up with Expedition 9x after Expedition 9x.

Tom: Haha, we probably have 15 or 20 Tamrac Expedition 9x bags. The 9x is our main method for moving gear around, whether we are talking about motion-control kits, lighting, or cameras.  We actually keep our Red Epics totally built inside the 9x… that’s one of the main reasons I love it, because I hate disassembling cameras.

Packing up the Expedition 9x's for a shoot.

Packing up the Expedition 9x’s for a shoot.

Tamrac: What are some words of wisdom you might share for someone interested in   trying time lapse photography for the first time?

Tom: If you really want to become a great time lapse photographer, it’s not patience that you need, it’s dedication.  It’s easy to pass time while the camera clicks away, but it’s hard to get your ass up at 3am in the freezing cold and move a camera dolly up the side of a  mountain. Dedication is the key.

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Tamrac: How can people find out more about you and your work, and keep up with what you’re doing?

Tom: They can follow me at

http://www.facebook.com/tomlowefilmmaker
http://www.facebook.com/DreamcorePictures
http://twitter.com/DreamCorePics

View the TimeScapes trailer!

TimeScapes: Rapture 4K from Tom Lowe on Vimeo.

And they can purchase “TimeScapes” here:
http://timescapes.org/products/default.aspx

Thanks so much to Tom Lowe and his crew at Dreamcore for answering our questions! We’re excited to see what you guys will come out with next!

For more information on the Expedition 9x backpacks. Check them out here:
http://www.tamrac.com/frame_exp.htm