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Professional sports photographer and Canon Ambassador Samo Vidic is known for shooting the world’s best athletes for leading international brands and publications. Now in his latest project, Slovenian photographer Samo decided to photograph the top sportspeople that can sometimes be overlooked: disabled athletes overcoming the odds to master the sports that they love.
British climber Anoushé Husain was born missing her right arm below the elbow. She's survived cancer and lives with multiple health conditions, but none of it has stopped her from becoming an award-winning climber. Samo wanted to capture Anoushé's determination to reach her goals with an action-filled climbing shot and a powerful sports portrait, but when he met her at a climbing centre in England, he quickly realised that the shoot wasn't going to be simple.
"The venue was small and dark, and it's hard to get dramatic shots of someone climbing at a centre, so I had to think of a way to bring out the action. I decided to use lights and coloured gels to get something different for the action shot," says Samo.
He placed a backlight with pink gel below Anoushé as she climbed up the wall, and got his assistant to hold the main light next to him as he got stuck in to the action himself. He scrambled up ahead with his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and pointed it down at Anoushé, who was climbing below him.
Thanks to the touchscreen and the good ergonomics on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Samo found it easy to operate his camera while hanging from a rope on the wall. "I don't normally use the touchscreen, I'm used to buttons," he says. "But I found it easy to navigate and it helped that I didn't have to press buttons for everything. Zooming in to check sharpness was much faster on the touchscreen, so I saved some time that way."
Samo chose to use his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens, so he could adjust the focal length as Anoushé was climbing. "This lens is also great for low-light situations, and the autofocus is really reliable, so that helped in the climbing centre where we didn't have a lot of ambient light," he says.
Back on the ground, Samo set up three lights for a portrait shot: a backlight behind Anoushé, a main light to the right-hand side and a small fill light with a grid on the left to ensure that both of Anoushé's arms were clearly visible. Then he asked his assistant to blow a bag of climbing chalk into the air behind Anoushé, creating a cloud that was emphasised by the backlight and frozen mid-air by flash.
This time, Samo chose to use his Canon EOS 6D Mark II with his Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens. "I love how lightweight the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is, despite being a full-frame camera. The files that come out of it are really good – the colours are fantastic," he says.
Samo made use of the Wi-Fi capabilities of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV to check all his files on location, with Anoushé looking on. They did one retake, because Anoushé didn't like the way her hand grabbed the hold in the climbing shoot, but other than that the action was captured first time.
"The location was a real challenge," Samo says. "We didn't have many options due to the limitations of the space, so this shot is an example of how you make the best of a difficult situation. But throughout, I was struck by how remarkable Anoushé is – what she does and the way she does it is extraordinary."