Yeah, Squamish!

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It’s been a summer of ups and downs for me, both in terms of my climbing and my photography. I’ve been working on my second 365 project, but - and i don’t know if you’ve noticed - my pictures during the week aren’t that great. On the weekends, when we go climbing, I pretty consistently have been able to produce work i’m quite proud of. But I dread, DREAD, having to come here and post all the radical climbing shots, prefixed by a pile of garbage. So I am going to suspend the project indefinitely. Because enough of that.

However. You’re not here to hear me whine about how hard it is to take photos every day, or whatever. You’re here for the sick bouldering action photos, and boy do I have some good news for you.

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Abby slapping at the sharp pinch on Tim's Sloper Problem

Since January I’ve been really working on lighting my climbing photos and trying to get them to look polished. I’m not working on a ‘style’ yet; just trying to get properly exposed photographs. I’ve tried doing some very dramatic stuff before, but it always looks off somehow, so I’m taking a step back. Fortunately instagram is full of people who already shoot studio lit bouldering and do it extremely well (poeple like Andy Wickstrom, Marc Bourguignon, and this person), so I’m going to use them as a baseline for myself. Not in a pompous, I’m going to be ‘better’ than them way, but as a ‘this is where i want to be’ kind of way.

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Chris W pulling down on Chicken Lips

As you can imagine it’s hard to get to a level that high when only shooting one or two days a week, while also trying to climb on those days. But, this past weekend all the stars aligned and I was able to get some photos that I think are some of my best work.

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Chris C on Chicken Lips

Here’s how it went down. Saturday, we drove out to Squamish with the hopes of getting some climbing in while the cold front was still hanging around. The day started off not so great as I had too much coffee and pitched off the last hard move of my project over and over again. We went out to get on Abby’s climb (above) and I tried a couple things I saw in the guidebook. Abby made some progress, but I not only got completely shut down, I also tweaked my back somehow in the process. So when we headed out to the North Walls for Abby to get on another climb she wanted to try, I was tired and feeling pretty down. The photos I got in the morning weren’t anything special and my hopes of sending my long standing line in that area were pretty low.

But off we went. I ate some food and started trying my line. It went slow at first, but pretty quickly I started making links and the moves that felt impossible before didn’t feel that bad. As I was starting to get pretty close on it, some people from my gym happened by and decided to join me. It became a team effort and we all worked through the sequence. I figured I might as well get some photos. I set up my big strobe to light up the face and as a top fill, to balance out the shadows, i blindly stuck an umbrellad speedlight up above. What I got was one of the best photos i’ve ever taken.

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Chris W on Chicken Lips

I ended up doing the climb too. So despite being a Debbie Downer I managed to pull off a proud send and set a new standard for myself.