Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Big 'ole photo mission...

The brief was simple. I needed photos for my book, Josh needed photos for the Big Dog catalogue. What could be simpler than to put one of every boat in a van and go shoot somewhere the water is bubbly and the sun always shines?

Well, Josh arrived at my house in the French Alps with Hazel Wilson, (R&D @ Nookie) and after the obligatory wine and cheese, we took off to a local rapid near Annecy to check out all the new boats and equipment. And remind ourselves how to paddle and use a camera.

The hardest thing for whitewater adventurers is to remember that big action, spray, blood, sweat and tears are not always the best content, and that pretty water and good composition are often far more important. It's also difficult to think about photography and be creative when you are concentrating on your own paddling, logistics like food and shuttle, product placement for sponsors, and team dynamics.
Paddler Hazel Wilson - A slow shutter shot with fill flash to freeze the action.
But once we'd perused the snaps over some more wine and cheese, we concluded that we were good to head out to Val Sesia, a classic destination for all Brits and Euro boaters, renowned for its turquoise waters and granite slides. We had five days to shoot everything from beginner kayaking thru play paddling, technical whitewater to waterfalls. Oh, and squirtboat and lifestyle shots, too. What could possibly go wrong?

Josh Gosling from Big Dog in the Karma squirt boat
A lot of people stopped to ask questions about the Karma so we got Ruth to pretend to be interested for a photo
We met up with the Big Dog team at Campertogno, Val Sesia, and set off to shoot some classic white water on the Egua. Bob McKee and Toby Hüther styled it up in the OC1's, running great lines on tight technical rapids and waterfalls alike.

The rest of the team were mostly in Force and DropZone kayaks which performed equally well at delivering stylish moves in hard whitewater and even harder rock. We set up safety cover on a few of the tenser exits but generally this was fun in the sun and playing up for the cameras.

We congratulated ourselves in a restaurant over wine, and cheese...

Frankie at the lip of a big waterfall

Paddler Josh Gosling
Paddler Bill Mattos - overboof and GoPro
 There were a whole lot of boats to test and shoot, so we needed different types of water. Here's Josh in the Flux, which is a crossover boat for intermediate river running and cruisy play paddling.

Val Sesia is not known for its play spots - you wouldn't believe the trouble Josh went thru for this little wave!

Getting some downtime in a whirlpool in the Big Dog Havoc - paddler Bill Mattos

In the end the weather broke, but we managed to get some flat water time in the Storm kayak to shoot some instructing/entry level pics. Thanks to Ruth for pretending it was actually warm enough to dress for the beach ;)
After a mission to get across Europe in time for various commitments, and a worrying six hours in Calais (apparently ferry companies don't like rough water as much as we do) I'm now back in the UK.

Next stop, Cornwall for some kayak surfing and SUP action, then back to the French Alps. Check in again soon :)


Friday, 8 June 2012

Big changes for me, and at Nookie

Here's the official press release about some big changes concerning me and my former company Nookie.

Bill Mattos, CEO, and co-founder of Nookie with Helen Stewart in 1991, has stepped down after 21 years to pursue his increasingly busy writing, ranting and paddling career. Helen Stewart (design and production manager since the beginning) is being joined by two new directors, Dan Hawes (sales and marketing at Nookie since 2005) and Hazel Wilson (R&D at Nookie since 2006). Though Bill will no longer hold an executive position with the company he remains a shareholder and will continue to work closely with Nookie. Bill is currently developing a number of new projects that will feature in the Nookie brand in a big way.  The team at the UK based company are all very fired up about the future at Nookie and looking forward to some exciting times ahead.

Helen, Dan and Hazel with multiple decades of combined experience will continue to take the company forward with a host of interesting new projects and products in the pipeline.

Hazel Wilson, product testing.