The winners of the 2016 Red Bull Illume – described as the world's greatest action and adventure sports photography competition – have been revealed. More than 34,000 images were submitted by photographers from 120 countries, in 11 categories.
Overall winner and winner of the Masterpiece category was Lorenz Holder from Germany, with this photo of BMX cyclist Senad Grosic performing a trick on a bridge in Gablenz, Germany. He explains how he got the shot: "When we got there the sun was just above the trees and it was lighting up the full colour-spectrum of the autumn leaves in a very soft way. One thing that was a little annoying was that the lake was covered with leaves which had fallen from trees, so the reflection of the bridge in the lake was just not there. But sometimes you just need a bit of luck: I had been on a fishing trip some days before and still had my fishing boots and a net in the car. So I tried to clean the lake by hand. It took a while until it was almost perfectly clean – at least where it was relevant.
"I'd chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot. There was also no more time for another try because the wind came up and the perfect reflection on the water was gone."
The Wings category was won by Micky Wiswedel from South Africa with this photo of Jamie Smith climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town. Micky says: "The angle of this image happened by chance. We were setting up for another shot but when I looked back I knew we had to change plans and grab the shot with the sea and horizon in the background, framed by this huge rock roof. The route is one of the hardest on Table Mountain. The last 'crux' section is near the top – you have a few pieces of protection below but there's a final jump, or 'dyno' for the last hold. The image captures what happens if you don't manage to stick that hold."
The New Creativity category was won by Ale Di Lullo from Italy, for this photo of Aaron Chase riding on the windshield of a taxi in Brooklyn, New York. "I understood that a shot like this had to be made in an iconic spot and the spot had to be in a city so it was clear that New York City with all its bridges was the place. And what could have been better than a NYC cab to shoot from? It took us one year of preparation, one full day of work, involved a few people and a bit of money. But I kept shooting, all the while fearing I would break the windscreen, and 12 attempts later I nailed this shot."
Dean Treml from New Zeland won the Spirit category with this photo of Josh Neilson being supported by fellow paddlers as he waits for a helicopter evacuation after a bad landing off Matze's Drop, Storulfossen, Norway, which left him with a broken L1 vertebra. After a good entry the nose of his kayak was thrust up and he flat landed at the bottom, the impact breaking his back. He was back in a kayak a year later and traveled back to Norway to paddle their rivers again."
The Sequence category was won by Daniel Vojtěch from the Czech Republic for this composite shot of the Flying Bulls aerobatic team in action.
Dean Treml from New Zealand won the Enhance category with this photo of Jonathan Paredes of Mexico diving from the 28-metre platform on the roof of the Copenhagen Opera House during the first practice session of the second stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Dean says: "While I was originally scoping out the location for this event I thought how surreal images could look without the diving platform jutting out, and just the small form of the diver, and the huge cantilevered roof dominating the frame. When reading the categories of Red Bull Illume this image jumped into my mind and I figured a quick 'fix' to one of my shots couldn't hurt, so this version of the image really came about thanks to the Enhance category."
Jody MacDonald from Canada won the Lifestyle category for this photo of her brother on board a train carrying iron ore across the Sahara Desert. She says: "When I was young I used to look through National Geographic magazines and dream of adventures like this; train hopping through the Sahara on one of the world's longest trains. Our risky rail journey started from the iron-mining centre of Zouérat in the Sahara, and snaked through the barren desert toward the port of Nouadhibou on the Atlantic. Having only a few minutes to hop on the train in the middle of the night, we spent 15 long hours slithering through the desert on the three kilometre train that transports approximately 84 tons of iron ore across a country crippled by terrorism, slavery and poverty."
Denis Klero of the Russian Federation won the Close-up category for this portrait of rock climber Rustam Gelmanov. Denis says: "The main instruments in rock climbing are your hands and arms. It was a deal – we'd shoot a close-up of his hands. With the help of two medium soft box sets on both sides I focused on the hands and fingers, their owner hiding in the shade. I wanted the viewer to see more than just the hands of the athlete."
Lorenz Holder of Germany won the Playground category with a photo of BMX cyclist Senad Grosic on a rusting old viewing platform in Senftenberg, Germany.
The Energy category was won by Luke Shadbolt from Australia with this photo of Renan Faccini in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "I was travelling with a group of Brazilian bodyboarders. Having their local knowledge proved invaluable, with the minimal swell and chaotic city traffic in Rio we really only had a chance to look at one or two different options for waves before the winds would come up. Jaotinga became our favourite option. At each end of the beach were sheer cliffs that would refract the swell causing crossed-over peaks. The swell seemed to line up directly into this small crevice in the southern cliff and plumes of spray would catapult out at varying angles. Shooting from down the beach trying to capture some of these abstract formations I didn't even notice Renan in the shot until afterwards."
The Mobile category was won by Vegard Aasen from Norway, who captured this photo using a Huawei P8 phone in Hakuba, Japan. "Some friends and I went to Hakuba in Japan to ski some deep powder and big mountains. The day this shot was taken was a really windy one but the snow was still really good, so we went out into the country. One of my friends brought his DSLR camera, so I decided to not bring my camera because I wanted to ski instead of taking photos. We hiked for a while, and discovered a group hiking across the ridge above us. The wind and the clouds looked amazing, so my friend took out his camera and started shooting. I hated myself for not bringing my camera. Luckily I had my mobile phone in my pocket. I could not see anything on the screen, but obviously managed to aim pretty well. A week later, I scrolled through my phone, while waiting for sushi at a restaurant. I had completely forgotten about the shot, so I was pretty stoked when I found it. I edited it to black and white in Photoshop Express on my phone, and was really happy with the result."
In addition to the winners, the judges chose four finalists per category. IBTimes UK presents a selection of these. To see more and to find out about next year's Red Bull Illume photography competition, visit the website.