Documenting outdoor activities, watercolors or HD?

Watercolor vs HD video expression

Note on Hiking, by Frits Ahlefeldt 2013, feb.

While researching extreme outdoor photographers I stumbled across superb photos from Mikey Schaefer and from RealWaterProductions, crazy what these guys can do

Getting good images of hiking is difficult, so why not look at something even more difficult: How the best outdoor photographers captures the much more physical demanding photos of climbing and base jumping: Check out the demo-reel of here:

Looking at their work I came to focus on the sequence of the man on the line. The film features the legendary rock climber / wing suit flying man, Dean Potter, as he is walking a line up on Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park, as part of the National Geographic film “The man who can fly” and it has been done with the best ultra HD equipment, by some of the best, under the most difficult circumstances.

One of the things that is so great about the film is the enormous moon appearing behind the rocks, to get a shot like that you have to be far, far away with a very good camera lens and that makes it even harder…

Pro climber/photographer Mikey Schaefer ( did the line walking film from a distance of 1.2 miles (almost 2km.) to get the moon right, and he says the shoot originally was an idea Dean Potter got, and it was almost a year in the making. The shoot was created by Mikey Schaefer running through the forest, up to the planed point, and shooting the film, in a one chance only session, standing there, far, far away, working with 20.000USD worth  of highly professional and sophisticated camera gear, including a Canon 5D Mark II and an 800mm, f/5.6 lens with a 2X doubler. Read more here)

As I sit here and read about it I come to think about how far we humans have come in our high-tech ability to document outdoor activities, and wonder about how this film is different from how it would have been documented say 50 years ago, and what is in focus now.

I decided it would be fun, as an experiment, to do a fast watercolor sketch of the scene and put it underneath the line walking film, to see how the techniques / expression between a handhold, old brush style watercolor sketch, differ from state of the art expressions, gear and techniques now.

watercolor line walking, Dean Potter
Watercolor of the MoonWalk film with Dean Potter on line

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