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Winners of the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest 2013 (20 pictures)

The winners have just been announced in the 3rd edition of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest photo competition. The overall winner, top 10 category winners and top 50 finalists were unveiled at a ceremony in Hong Kong.


The contest invited photographers to submit images of the world of action and adventure sports in one of 10 categories, including Energy, Illumination, Sequence, and Experimental (where digital manipulation is allowed).

This year the competition received more than 28,000 entries by 6,417 photographers from 124 countries. Below are some of the winning images, accompanied by the stories behind the shots, in the words of the photographers themselves.

Read more on the www.theatlantic.com

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Stuart Gibson's photo of Sean Woolnough on a wave in Namotu Island, Fiji, was a finalist in the Spirit category. "Sean Woolnough and I were in Fiji for big swell and the wind went dead, so while we still had amazing conditions, we jumped in a Fijian long boat. This is more of a tow wave, as you can see --- paddling this wave doesn't end well. The island jetski was out of action so we thought we'd give it a go. I dropped Sean at the top of the reef, and the ocean went flat, like someone had turned off the tap. It takes a big set to light this slab up, and as Sean sat patiently I saw a big lump coming. I started yelling, but he had no reference as to where he was on the reef so he waited and paddled for this first wave of the set. He just missed it, and when I looked back, this deep blue lump just started draining out, almost sucking him under the wave. He took one big duckdive and got under the breaking lip. On a normal wave this is fine but this thing didn't have a back -- the reef drops to 200m out the back of this place so when it breaks it really folds. The wave had just too much power and sucked him back over the falls, it's pretty much a surfer's worst nightmare position, so many people claim this is photoshopped, but it certainly is not!" (© Stuart Gibson/Red Bull Illume)

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This image by Lorenz Holder is the Overall Winner of the 2013 contest. "I found this unique spot (in Raisting, Germany) in the summer and I really wanted to shoot a snowboard picture there. I told Xaver Hoffmann about the spot and he was also fascinated. My idea to shoot in heavy snowfall wasn't going to be easy, as it only snowed once in this spot last season. So there was pretty much just a one-time chance to get this shot. I used two big Elinchrom strobes in the background to light up the snowflakes and create a 'white wall' where I could capture Xaver's silhouette as he jumped. To get some light onto the dish, I chose a 4-second exposure time to get some light from the moon. Overall, I'm pretty happy that we made it there that day!" (© Lorenz Holder/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Dimitrios Kontizas: "I never thought that at some point in my life, I would stand right at the edge of a 200-meter cliff, taking pictures of 'crazy' people jumping off it. But there I was in Zakynthos Island, Greece, where the 2011 'ProBase Shipwreck Boogie' was taking place. Thirty BASE jumpers from all around the world had been invited to participate in this competition. This particular picture was taken right after the competition had ended, leaving all the BASE jumpers free of stress and letting them have 100% fun jumps. I had the focus point on one of the jumpers because they are the main subject in the frame. The Greek sun did what it does best, providing perfect lighting conditions for a result, I think, that is worth viewing." (© Dimitrios Kontizas/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Sterling Lorence: "Matt Hunter has a reputation in freeride mountain biking for finding and building very progressive lines. Matt built this air for the filming of his segment in the film, 'Follow Me'. It is a 45-foot air to wall ride move that he hadn't done much practice on. I framed up this shot from this perspective to be able to express the entire story of his line and the size of the gap he had to make. I originally thought I would shoot it as a sequence so that the viewer would be able to understand the extreme journey more. With my motor drive running, Matt nailed his line and I watched him hit the wall and carve out the finish. I was completely floored and in awe by the explosion of dust he had created. As I sat back and reviewed my images, I saw this one frame and I realized that I no longer needed the full sequence. The entire story, speed, impact and energy of this huge air was captured in this single frame. That is why I love photography, telling so much of a story in a single image." (© Sterling Lorence/Red Bull Illume)

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Scott Serfas won the Illumination category with this photo of Travis Rice in Alaska's Tordrillo Mountains. "This photo was taken on the second trip during the making of the "Art of FLIGHT" snowboarding film. We had been in Alaska for a month and I knew the trip was ending very soon. I really wanted to shoot a photo from the helicopter, right above Travis Rice as he was riding a line, but it was very difficult to coordinate because there was another heli in the air shooting with a Cineflex camera. The sun was setting fast so the director Curt Morgan called for Travis to drop into the line and as he made his second turn down the mountain I snapped this shot. This turned out to be the last photo I took during what was the best snowboarding trip of my life!" (© /Red Bull Illume)

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Morgan Maassen, finalist in the Close Up category: "On this overcast day in late autumn, Rebecca Ronald and I went out to Chun's Reef in Hawaii for a surf as the waves were quite clean and uncrowded. Despite the overcast skies, the water was unusually clear so I figured I would shoot with a fisheye, hoping the sun would pop out at some point during our session. Unfortunately, the sun never did come out, but Bec had a marathon session and we lined up on too many waves to count. After riding a wave past where I was shooting, she paddled back towards me... only to swing around and catch another wave. And it was at this moment that I captured this over/under shot of her, showcasing her as she prepares to nab another wave on that delightful day at Chun's Reef." (© Morgan Maassen/Red Bull Illume)

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Vince Perraud's image of Luc Legrand was a finalist in the Sequence category. "The great magazine 'The Albion' asked me to follow Frenchman Luc Legrand for an article, and we arranged to spend a week on the road all across Spain, living in his van. Luc loves to ride in unique locations even if they are not easy. He remembered a crazy set-up around the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and we found it again. I was not used to shooting sequences but I thought it would work for this one. I also thought shooting fisheye from below would really capture the movement. After a couple of run-ups, he just did it first go, and I was really happy to catch it first go too!" (© Vince Perraud/Red Bull Illume)

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Jody MacDonald, finalist in the Illumination category: "In the fourth year of a five-year world kiteboarding expedition, we sailed 600 miles across the Mozambique Channel from Madagascar to the Bazaruto Archipelago, off the southeast coast of Mozambique. As we made landfall, a massive 20-mile sand dune grew off our bow. No words were said, everyone just ran for their wings. The east side of the dune juts out into the Indian Ocean at a perfect angle for paragliding a few hundred meters above the sea. In no time we were soaring and exploring a place by air that had never previously been flown. It is the stuff that even vivid dreamers cannot imagine and as a photographer it was perfection. The way the light danced and played along the sand was mesmerizing. It was perfect until we spotted our dinghy washed up on the beach. By the time we reached it, there was no obvious damage but we would still have to wait again for low tide to make any attempt to leave. We ended up sleeping on the dune that night in our paragliders and awoke again the next morning to more perfect flying conditions. Being quite possibly the most playful and stunning soaring site on the planet, we had to keep flying. Only after we were sunburnt, exhausted and dehydrated did we manage to get the dinghy through the shore break and back to our catamaran." (© Jody MacDonald/Red Bull Illume)

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Jussi Grznar's shot of Jeff Croker in Sussex Inlet, Australia, was also named a finalist. "Jeff Croker is a true Australian bushman. Having lived in Australia all his life, he only saw the ocean for the first time at the age of 20. The next day he packed all of his stuff and moved to the beach. To this day, Jeff still lives by the beach with his lovely wife and two not-so-lovely sons (just kidding!). I met him during a personal trip to Australia in 2012, and I really wanted to photograph him. Jeff is known for not interacting with people very much, so I decided to put the camera away and just sit back for a bit. After one long night and a happy wedding we all went for a surf together, and I got the chance to get to know the man a little better. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of good waves, and maybe a beer or two!" (© Jussi Grznar/Red Bull Illume)

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Zakary Noyle was named the winner of the Sequence category for this shot of Gabriel Medina in the surf off Oahu, Hawaii. "This was not a large day by North Shore standards but sort of a lay day. When the waves are smaller, the surfers usually go out for a surf right before the sun sets. I walked down the beach with my camera and a 70-200mm lens -- I did not take a tripod, as it is easier to hand hold. I really love capturing the different elements of my surroundings, to be able to put the viewer of the image into the exact location of where I was and what I saw. By pulling the lens back, I was able to get the sand and sky, so it is almost as if someone were walking down the beach and looking over to see Gabriel doing this massive backflip." (© Zakary Noyle/Red Bull Illume)

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Ryan Taylor, finalist in the Illumination category: "Every year in northern Wisconsin, cranberries are grown and harvested in the late fall. Unknown to some people, cranberries are grown dry, and it is only during harvesting that the fields are flooded. This allows the berries to float to the surface for ease of harvesting, creating a large sea of red. This uncharted territory seemed almost impossible to ride, until the invention of the winch. This image of Ben Horan carving through a cranberry field was a photo that I had wanted to shoot for a long time. I was finally able to do it in October 2012, when the Red Bull Winch Sessions crew asked me to tag along once again and shoot stills as well as some video. On the morning that this photo was taken, we awoke to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. By the time we started shooting, the snow had melted but the temperatures were still close to freezing. Knowing how unique the image would be, Ben (as well as everyone else involved) was still willing to put the time and effort into riding. It was a long hard week of shooting, but this particular shoot will definitely go down as one of my most unique shoots to date." (© Ryan Taylor/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Jimmy Wilson: "The US Open is as chaotic as surf contests get. You will never see more people show up to watch a surf event, and the number one person they come to see is Kelly Slater. It can be really hectic trying to shoot photos with a crowd like that. Luckily, Surfing Magazine lets me do my own thing and doesn't require a particular number of images per day or anything. They just want me to get some different perspectives from the online galleries and run-of-the-mill Instagram photos. The most important aspect of this shot was making friends with the security team -- they can be stingy no matter what kind of pass you have, but in this case I was allowed to run behind Kelly as he entered the water for this heat. I didn't have a pole cam or anything, I just held the camera up as high as I could and hoped the focus and composition worked out right. Normally I fail in these situations, but with a 24mm lens it's a little easier to hold it up there and guesstimate what you're shooting. When I checked the LCD screen after, I was really psyched and saved it for the magazine. Of course, it ended up caught in a page cut and never saw the light of day, but it's still one of my favorite lifestyle moments I've ever shot. Plus, of course Kelly went on to win the contest and $100k!" (© Jimmy Wilson/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Theodore Van Orman on his shot taken in Frisco, Colorado: "I was thrilled to check out this spot after seeing a few blurry cell phone photos of it. Full pipes are few and far between and one of my favorite things to ride. After being invited to check it out, I stayed up most of that night anticipating the next day. Two hours in the car and a short hike through a forest, and we were heading up into the belly of this beast. The only light source for this long tunnel was the sunlight piercing through the opposite end. During the entire trip through the tunnel, my eyes were fixated on that circle of light. We were high in elevation, and my equilibrium felt off. When we finally made it to the opening, I quickly put my lens on my body and metered a shot as my counterparts kept moving ahead into the light. I waited until Cody looked up into the light to shoot. I used just natural light with a shallow depth of field to make the subject pop. The subjects did not know I was taking this photo, which made it a completely natural moment. No planning, just riders mesmerized by the light at the end of the tunnel." (© Theodore Van Orman/Red Bull Illume)

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Juan Cruz Rabaglia was named a finalist in the New Creativity category for this shot in Glaciar Perito Moreno, Patagonia, Argentina. "Right beside the lateral moraine of Patagonia's Perito Moreno Glacier, natural dams of ice and rock are occasionally formed. Thanks to glacial-fed rivers and streams, these often give rise to small lakes. When the water pressure finds a crack, a slow process of ice boring begins. Thus, little by little, these caverns are sculpted underneath the glacier. When the lakes are emptied completely, for a brief period of time it is possible to explore these ephemeral and psychedelic ice galleries." (© Juan Cruz Rabaglia/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Florian Breitenberger: "In the summer of 2012 I was hired to shoot the Nine Knights Mountainbike event at Austria's Wildkogel. The weather conditions were not super good, so we had to focus on one or two good weather days to produce our entire media output. Since it was my job as an event photographer to highlight the sponsor's branding and lifestyle atmosphere, I also got the chance to shoot some creative angles during sunset and night sessions. Apart from the bad weather forecast, the event was perfect. Xavier "Sherwy" Pasamonte and all the other riders were riding super well. Xavier threw that superman a few more times during the event. Meanwhile I found this little lake beside the wooden castle. I thought about producing something different, so I turned off my flashes during the sunset session and tried to catch Xavier against the backlight of the setting sun and the reflection of the water at the same time. Afterwards I adjusted the contrast during post-production in the same way I visualized the image on the mountain before. I was very lucky to produce this high-contrast black and white photo combined with the perfect style of Xavier -- it was such an incredible atmosphere during the event!" (© Florian Breitenberger/Red Bull Illume)

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George Karbus, finalist in the Close Up category. "This photograph was taken on the west coast of Ireland at the most intimidating surf spot called "Rileys". I dove beneath the water with my diving mask, held my breath, and waited for the moment when local surfer Tom Lowe would pass with a powerful snap close enough to my lens. Water visibility is always very limited in Ireland, and I was lucky to get a clear shot like this. The image was captured with a Nikon D700 with a 16mm fisheye inside a Subal housing." (© George Karbus/Red Bull Illume)

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Daniel Vojtech was named winner of the New Creativity category, for his photo of Tomas Slavik in a studio in Prague. "I had had this idea in my head for a long time: I wanted to do something similar to one of my older pictures with a snowboarder. For this new project, I chose four-cross rider Tomas Slavik. He is a former Czech freestyle champion and sees the progress of freestyle tricks from a different perspective. He performs completely new and impossible tricks on his MTB, and if something seems impossible now, it will be the norm in a few years. This shoot took place in a studio because we could control all the lights very easily and wanted to create a backstage feeling, and also because it was very easy to suspend the bike from the ceiling." (© Daniel Vojtech/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist David Carlier: "The lower part of Mesa Falls in Targhee National Park in Idaho is definitely a world-class spot for shooting white water and descent waterfalls. As we heard the water level was pretty high, we left Jackson Hole early that morning with two boaters, Gary Edgeworth and Eric Seymour, and a videographer to shoot with a small waterproof Nikon camera fixed on the boats. Gary went first off the massive fall, taking off from a black rock that looked like a perfect kicker. Full speed ahead, he went with the flow, taking full advantage of the energy produced by the roaring waterfall. This shot was one of the first ones I took that day and looking at the screen on my camera, I knew straight away that the position was right and there was something going on. Shooting action sports is always pretty tough as most of the time the decisive moment happens only once. There is no time for hesitation. The key is often to have a pretty precise idea of the shot you want to achieve and then move fast to find a secure location and try to anticipate the moves of the rider." (© David Carlier/Red Bull Illume)

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Scott Dickerson was named a finalist for his shot of surfers Mike McCune, Eric Newbury, and Dave Calkins riding a bore tide in Turnagain Arm, Alaska. "One thing my years of experience photographing in Alaska has taught me is to appreciate those magical moments when everything comes together. This photo is a defining moment for me where several of my passions aligned perfectly to create an image that I had been visualizing. This was when we first started surfing the Turnagain Arm bore tide on our stand up paddle boards and we were getting incredible 5 mile rides that would last up to 50 minutes. But the bore tide is a mysterious thing and sometimes it would be a clean perfect wave, and other times just a surge of turbulent whitewash, often both in the same ride. The morning before it was a bust, so I wasn't feeling too confident waking up early on this morning. I loaned two of my boards to friends and passed up on surfing the morning's wave so I could try and shoot some aerial photos. As we raced to beat the incoming wave, one of the surfers in the shot actually had to help me launch my paramotor from a short little strip of beach. It was an incredible morning with a picture-perfect wave and beautiful light from the sunrise. My three friends managed to ride the wave for about 40 minutes and I was able to shoot the entire time, flying back and forth over this spectacle of nature. In all the time I've surfed or photographed the bore tide, none was as photogenic a moment as this." (© Scott Dickerson/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Krystle Wright: "Twenty-four hours before this shoot, my original paramotor pilot pulled out as his daughter had gone into labor five weeks early. A few friends and I went driving around Moab, Utah, desperately trying to find a solution. Thankfully, we came across Lyn Ottinger who happened to own the only tandem trike in town. We struck a deal and thankfully my shoot was saved! As the BASE jumpers ascended Castleton Tower, we began the motor and started to buzz around the tower. I couldn't get clear radio contact with the jumpers and it was a little chaotic as we tried to communicate. In the end, the athletes would just jump when they were ready and it was sheer luck for me to be in position when Michael Tomchek took his 400ft leap. The shoot happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to see my images until I was back on the ground. I am incredibly stoked with this image and it has also inspired new ideas about how I can evolve this concept even further, which I hope to make happen at the end of the year." (© Krystle Wright/Red Bull Illume)

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Finalist Elias Kunosson: "I shot this image during the first autumn I spent in Are, Sweden. I had just moved out of my car and found a place to stay. Not really knowing the village that well, I had heard that there would be a market, so I decided to check it out. When I walked into the village I noticed posters saying they were going to have a FMX show down by the lake. I went back to my apartment, grabbed my camera and went to see if there was anything worth photographing. As it turned out, one of Sweden's best riders, Fredrik "Frog" Berggren, was going to be there. As I got down to the show area it was already smacked full with people. I saw some other photographers close to the ramp where it was very crowded. I thought there was no point in competing with them for the space, only to get the same kind of images as they would. I looked around and saw a fire escape on a nearby hotel, so I decided to climb up there and try and get an elevated view. When I got up, I decided I wanted to showcase the crowded area but at the same time leave the focus on the rider. Not owning a specific tilt/shift lens, I had to do the effect in post. I think it makes for a slightly surreal image while highlighting the action." (© Elias Kunosson/Red Bull Illume)