Words and pictures from Alexi Berg
Like most photographers, I’ve never been taught photography. No classes, no training: I only taught myself using the Manual mode. This is my first tip for anyone. Working in Manual mode means that sometimes you’ll miss some shots, but it’s the key to mastering the lighting.
The best lights are often at dawn or dusk. It means for this particular shot, waking up at 5 am to see the sunrise from this spot in Northern Ireland. By the time you make it to the spot and find the best angle, it’s already 7 am.
It rained that night so there were no tourists on this stretch of road yet. Luckily enough, the first sun rays came through the branches, highlighting the trees, Milly’s face and legs, and contrasted with the darkness of the place. This photo was taken with a telephoto lens so it compresses the background and foreground to obtain this perspective with the trees. I then did some minor adjustments in Lightroom, but I swear… no Photoshop involved!
I love taking silhouette photos in the mountains. You really need the light behind the subject to be brighter and stronger than your foreground. Then you need to lower the exposure in your camera, or by tapping with your finger on the brightest zone on your smartphone screen. The result is that the subject becomes dark and that’s exactly what we want for this kind of photo.
It’s better if you find eye-catching ridgelines or rocks that contrast with the sky and set your exposure on the sky. Once again, early in the morning at sunrise or at sunset is the best moments of the day to capture those pictures.
Photography is not just about the technique. Some photos just tell the story on their own. In July 2017, Kilian takes part in the Hardrock 100 in Colorado. After less than 30km, Kilian falls and dislocates his shoulder. He puts it back in place and decides to continue the race. Despite the pain, Kilian leads the race and I manage to capture him in 4 or 5 different spots. Kilian will go on to win this year's edition.
This photo is the shot that represents the best his courage and his incredible Hardrock 100 in 2017. The focal length is f/2.8 to better isolate the main object. When I first got this shot, I wasn’t particularly convinced. I have another one on which Kilian looks at me. The next day, people on social media picked that one and started telling the story using it to show the performance of Kilian during that race. It’s the people who made the story of that photo.
This 4th consecutive victory from Kilian at the Hardrock 100 remains one of my best memories ever as a trail running photographer.
After 59h and 30mins, John Kelly finishes his 5th lap of the 2017 Barkley Marathon, becoming the 15th finisher in the last 30 years. This photo tells a beautiful story. The next one was shot on the very same day but tells a very different one.
Lying on the ground, Gary Robbins with his wife Linda trying to cheer him up. The Canadian runner just missed the cut for 6 seconds (and a navigation error) after 60hours of running.
The hardest part when we’re covering historical moments within our sports is to be able to find the right angle to tell the story, having the right lens, and predict the action. The key to this shot is that despite the emotion and the short timing to get the shot, I thought about moving and not standing still where I was to find this composition. Everything was so cinematic that I decided quickly to go for a black and white approach. I even ended up releasing a film with these photos.