Red Bull Photography recently joined our community with a verified brand profile of their own. This partnership isn’t just about amazing photography — it’s also about amazing stories. Behind every shot on Red Bull Photography is a talented photographer, a wild story, and a few lessons learned. We’ll be telling those stories every week here on 500px ISO and the Red Bull Photography website. Scroll down for this look by Ian Farrell of Red Bull Photography, on how photographer Jarno Schurgers expertly captured a high-speed water sport.

When Jarno Schurgers was asked to photograph speed windsurfer and world-champion Björn Dunkerbeck he started to think how he could inject some speed into his portrait. “I wanted to use a long shutter speed and have Björn sail through the middle of the frame, blurring his motion to give the impression of movement,” he explains. “That was always going to be difficult, though, with Björn bouncing up and down on the waves. So we added some blue LED lights to his sail that would leave a colorful trail behind him. And we used a pair of flashes to light up Björn at the end of the exposure.”

Speed by Red Bull Photography on

The location for the shoot was Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, where Björn was hoping for a record 42nd world title at the Dunkerbeck GPS Speed Challenge. “Doing this with a multiple world champion was nerve-wracking,” Jarno says. “You don’t want to have to turn around and say to him, ‘Thanks for your efforts, Björn, but we didn’t get the picture we wanted.’ That would be embarrassing.”

But the pressure on Jarno would only increase as he realized the technical challenges that lay ahead of him. “I had two guys holding the flashes for me on the beach, but my triggers didn’t like that environment for some reason and I had to keep running back and forth to sort out connection problems. Then, with my camera on a tripod, I shot some test frames but it was still too light for a good long exposure, so we waited for darker skies. That was frustrating because I knew Björn could only give us about an hour of his time.”

As the conditions became right, Jarno started to get the kind of images that he wanted. Now it was all down to timing. “I was using the camera in B mode, where the shutter stays open for as long as I have my finger on the remote control button,” he explains, adding that a typical exposure was between one and two seconds – just enough time for Björn to make it through the shot. “It was very difficult to know when to end the exposure because the camera’s viewfinder blacks out while the shutter is open so I couldn’t see when he had cleared the frame.

“Focusing was also difficult as I couldn’t see in the dark. I got someone to stand in the water with a light and pre-focussed on them, then asked Björn to aim for that spot as he raced past, hoping that I had enough depth of field to cover up any differences.”

In the end, Jarno got just half a dozen good attempts at the picture and one of the last frames was the right one – and the image you see here. “I think what I learned on this shoot is that concepts like photographing windsurfers at night using LEDs and flashes are easy to propose, but much more difficult to do. Lighting, flash, long exposures, focusing, timing — this job had its fair share of challenges. In fact, I think it’s one of the most difficult pictures I have ever shot.”

Here a few more of Jarno’s masterful photography capturing windsurfers around the world.

Flower power by Red Bull Photography on

Marc Kroon performing on Loosdrechtse Plassen in Oud-Loosdrecht, North Holland, Netherlands. by Red Bull Photography on