CFAH Bringing my second passion to the mountains - Blog | Kilian Jornet Burgada

Bringing my second passion to the mountains

06 November 2014
Bringing my second passion to the mountains

I'm not a photographer. I've never studied photography or attended any image courses, but I have always been interested in design, composition and colour. Drawing is one of my greatest passions, which, somehow, I left in the "I don’t have time" drawer quite a while ago. After completing my A levels in Art two paths opened before me: continuing to study design, drawing, etc., which I felt passionate about and meant I would have to go and live in the city, or pursuing my passion for the mountain, running, skiing, which meant going to college in Font Romeu, in the mountains, to study the equivalent of a PE instructor in France. At this stage, I don’t need to tell you which one I chose.

I do not regret having chosen this route at all. Besides the emotions, friendships and opportunities to travel that sport has granted me, somehow it has also allowed me to carry on with my other passion. On the one hand, by working on product design and creating new features and, on the other, by working with very creative people. Since I started competing 14 years ago I have worked with many photographers, each one with their own vision, each one with their own style and personality. I have learned a lot from every one of them, they have become the college teachers I never had. I have discovered photography thanks to Monica Dalmasso, Pascal Tournaire, the South Africans from The African Attachement, Markus Berger and many others.

I’d like to highlight two photographers who have taught me the most about taking photos, probably because I have spent more time with them and because of the friendship that binds us.

Working with Seb Montaz for years has made ??????me discover a type of photography and filming from a very slight perspective without diminishing quality. When we first started we always carried not less than 15 kg of photographic material (amongst them bodies, different objectives, tripods, batteries, lighting...), but we soon had to adapt to reality. To access the places we wanted to reach and be able to shoot in a dynamic way, we gradually began to reduce on equipment weight. We chose increasingly lighter equipment, reduced the number of objectives and, most importantly, we adapted materials so that we could carry them while we were out running or skiing and would be able to "shoot" without having to stop.

As we had shared many trips together, I made a deal with Jordi Saragossa: I would teach him mountaineering and he would teach me photography. So he taught me how to play with diaphragms, speed, the ISO and other composition tricks. I learnt the more technical side of photography: when to choose a specific objective, when to use a more open or closed diaphragm, the speeds at which to photograph runners...

And with his tips and a great deal of practice, slowly and with still much work ahead, I have got better at photography. And, because I like to capture moments without spoiling the quality of training or outings by carrying too much weight, I have been thinking of ways to carry a camera without it slowing me down or preventing me from going where I want to go.

On my daily outings, during training sessions at different speeds or on very long runs, I usually carry my PentaxWg3, a small camera that fits in the pocket of my running shorts and takes good quality pictures, panoramic views from the peaks and makes fast captures. It is also quite robust and rather mountain proof, because when climbing, as it hangs round my neck, it sometimes hits the rock or falls off; and it is waterproof and has a fairly long battery life.

On shorter outings (which sometimes can be 5-6h hours long!), when running at slower paces, or in company, I usually carry a heavier but better image quality camera. I carry a Pentax K3, which fits in a small backpack (5L). I usually carry only one objective so as to be faster and not carry extra weight; I do not like to interfere with the activity but get ahead to take the photos or use the camera at the last minute. Lately, I've begun to go running with the camera in my hand, fastened to my wrist so that it won’t fall if I open my hand, and so always being ready to film. As regards training it is also advantageous: it makes the muscles of the arms work and it fosters trust in fast technical descents.

I normally carry a 18-135 objective to increase filming options during action or a 21 or 50 fixed one for the mountain, where I mainly wish to show the landscape.

This way, little by little, I am improving and learning to take photos that can show the places my eyes take me to see.

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