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ADAPT OR DIE:  NEW TEchNOLOGY ON A SUMMER SNOWBOARD SHOOT WITH MING POON 

Snowboarding in July involves planning and motivation. As with all mountain days, the extra effort can create the most memorable days. f-stop Ambassador Ming Poon joined forces with snowboard legend Jeremy Jones and ski guide and environmental educator Brennan Lagasse for a day of adventure in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California - and brought along a new secret weapon for long approaches: e-bikes. We caught up with Ming to talk about this day shooting, e-mtbs, and the environment. Read on for the photographer's insights from this epic multi-sport day - all the way to the apres! 
 

 

How did you come to the plan of shooting snowboarding with e-bikes in July? 
 

Global warming is real, winter seasons are getting shorter, snow lines are moving higher. As snowboarders, we must adapt or die! We’ve been doing long approaches in the Sierra for years. Nothing new there, but we’ve been considering E-bikes more and more and tested a few. Finally, the answer is here, the Specialized Turbo Levo. We looked into them, tried them around town and determined we were ready and psyched to test them in the mountains. Jeremy Jones, Brennan Lagasse and I were fired up for a July snowboarding mission into the Sierra.

We picked an objective we could really test the bikes. The plan allowed us to ride our bikes, boards on our backs, most of the way to the snowline. Then we would start hiking to our objective. Eventually we would climb and ride our objective, which ended up being a lot more technical than expected. The snowboarding was very steep, exposed and technical riding. Some of the biking was technical as well, steep single track with rocky and technical features. The bikes really got tested. The bikes were certainly capable of more than our MTB abilities - it was nice to not be restricted by your gear.

 

e-mtb bikes have created some strong opinions in the mtb world, but now it seems we're starting to see them used in more creative ways for heavily loaded people like trail builders. Are they a possible game-changer for filmers and photographers?

Without a doubt, these bikes have a bigger future in our day to day lives. Regardless of urban, suburbs, mountain towns, etc, they will be more and more a part of society. I feel the same way about electric cars. We will take it a step further as technology develops. Even now, we’re remodeling our home and we will have a large solar array to power our house, charge e-bikes, etc. In the future, I’ll have a garage with a solar array to charge a Tesla (or something similar). 

As a creative, I can always take more gear. Technology like the Specialized Turbo Levo allows me to take more gear, go further, and shoot longer. So what the Turbo Levo creates is more options. Exactly what I want as a creative, and in everything else I do.

 


Alongside the athletes' physical objectives, what were your creative goals for the day? 

Creatively, I wanted to gather as much content as possible to tell the story well. The big items on the shot-list revolved around each segment of the day. Bike, hike, climb, ride, and apres. Along the way, I’m always looking to capture the environment and the athletes creatively. For example, shooting the athletes with the line in the background and wildflowers surrounding them on the approach. 

It’s tricky because I’m trying to shoot both still and motion content, each requiring different equipment. To do one well, you really need to focus on stills or motion one at a time. Luckily, I have different f-stop packs for various different outings to carry my load comfortably and safely. Regardless, it’s a lot of weight and I’m always trying to shave down my kit as much as possible which comes with production tradeoffs. To do one well, you really need to focus on stills or motion one at a time. This is where the bikes gave us more options to both carry more and make time to do both. 

 


What gear did you use to realize those goals?

I had my standard camera kit, two Sony Alpha cameras (A9 and A7RIII) and three lenses. The bikes gave me more options (at least for part of the day) so I also brought a drone. Jeremy and I each had a Rylo 360 camera. I had prepared to mount Rylo 360 camera’s to the mountain bikes, to a pole sticking out of my pack, and on a small hand-held mount. The Rylo allowed me to get great content one Jeremy’s bike while I shot stills. Or, the Rylo camera allowed me to capture great content when I otherwise wouldn’t be, like when I’m riding the bike or snowboarding. It’s incredible what those little Rylo 360 cameras can do. The in-body stabilization is incredible. A lot of the footage looks as though it’s shot using a gimbal (which would have meant extra weight if so), but it’s not.

 

Skiing and snowboarding in July, and accessing in flip-flops, seems like a dream day for winter sports lovers missing winter. How tough was the reality behind these images? 

This was a really fun day! Really, it was just a great local adventure with friends. This was a pretty big day with a lot of miles and vertical under the July sun.  It was hot!  Jeremy doing this day in sandals shows how easy it is to ride the bikes up and down. It also further shows the options the bikes afford. Not sure about Jeremy, but I know I wouldn’t walk all that mileage with sandals if not for the bikes cutting off so much of the approach. I know Jeremy was more comfortable in the July heat wearing sandals, I sure was jealous when he took off his snowboard boots and put on a pair of sandals.

 

 

How was the snowboarding?

We ended up getting into some really technical and consequential snowboarding. Jeremy said it was some of the hardest, if not the most technical, snowboarding he has ever done in the Sierra. That says A LOT!  I was going to stop part way up, but I changed my mind and kept climbing. I ended up down climbing a bunch of the couloir because I wasn’t comfortable with the technical level of riding and the consequences attached to it. If I can’t justify it objectively to my wife, I usually take the most cautious approach to things.

 

"Jeremy said it was some of the hardest, if not the most technical, snowboarding he has ever done in the Sierra." 

 

 

What difference did the e-mtb bikes make to your range?

This adventure would have been a lot more and quite a long day if we didn’t have the bikes. The bikes allowed us to access our objective with ease and a lot of fun. There are many places you can’t bring the bikes, including part of this day, so we road them as long as we could until we hopped off and starting walking. The energy the bikes saved us on the way up allowed us to put that energy into the most technical part of the day, the climbing and snowboarding down a steep couloir. The Specialized Turbo Levo gives us more options with our time and energy, this is HUGE for professionals like us. For example, instead of shooting one or two lines, now we can potentially shoot two or three lines in a day because of the saved energy and time. This is the biggest way these bikes are changing our professional approach to shooting snowboarding. Pretty amazing! 
 

@jeremyjones shredding in July with Ming Poon and Specialized

 

Jeremy Jones is one the most famous snowboarders in the world, known not just for his riding on a board but also his environmental charity POW (Protect Our Winters). Can you tell us more about POW, Jeremy's role in that and what they are working for?

Protect Our Winters is a non-profit 501(c)(3) focused on spreading awareness of climate change. Jeremy is the president and founder.  Recently, they’ve also created the Protect Our Winters Action Fund, a 501(c)(4).  Through POW AF (as I like to call it), we'll be giving people a ballot guide with all the information they need to make informed decisions at the polls in November (down to a section that shows you candidate's stances on climate). This is something we’re unable to do through Protect Our Winters. In fact, through POW we aren't legally allowed to even tell people to "Vote for people who will do something about climate" as you can't direct people to be single-issue voters as a 501(c)(3). It's complicated, I know. But that's why we have POW AF! But we have to be very careful as they need to be completely separate entities.

Personally, I think global warming is the number one global issue. Regardless of economics, political affiliation, global warming is real and a real threat to the human race and planet Earth. We should all be looking to do more, little adjustments in our daily lives make a difference.

 


Jeremy was in a snowboard movie, 
"My Own Two Feet", all about using your own power to get lines rather than helicopters and snowmobiles. Some people might be surprised to see him on an e-bike for this project. How do you see e-bikes fitting in the balance of environmentally friendly access to the backcountry?

Similar to electronic cars, I think e-bikes will be controversial. I believe they are certainly part of the future landscape of human commuting and recreating. Just like anything, we can almost always become more efficient and reduce our footprint. Using the Specialized Turbo Levo, our footprint is certainly less than any gas-powered vehicle. They also don’t have any noise pollution. They ride like mountain bikes, not motorbikes.

The way we will use them is for access and we will not have more impact than a mountain bike, which I feel is minimal. Personally, to offset any damage to trails, I formally and informally volunteer every year to fix or build new mountain bike, hiking, and climbers trails.

As for future usage, I plan to use my bike at least 3 seasons of the year around town. I’ll use the bike to run errands, visit friends, go out to dinner, or even roll to the beach.  They will save me time, money, emissions, and any parking hassles.  In the future, I see myself having a Turbo Levo for access as well as a separate one for using around town (with basket or two). I could even see a bike becoming more specific to help me rack a snowboard directly on bike along with some gear for productions or camping.

 


Crunch time. Honestly, which was more fun: the snow riding objective... or the e-bike riding in and out?


Tough call! They were both really fun. Both had elements of what we would call type one and type two fun. The novelty of the new bikes probably made the bikes maybe a little more fun, maybe...

 


GET INVOLVED

You can see more of Ming Poon's work on his website. Follow him on Instagram here (@Ming.T.Poon).
If you want to know more about this day, start the conversation with him here on Twitter or Facebook too! 

Follow more adventures from the athletes on the 'gram here: Jeremy Jones and Brennan Lagasse

Learn more here about Protect Out Winters, and the work Jeremy Jones and a passionate group of athletes and outdoor people do for POW.

 

 

EXPLORE THE GEAR MING USED: