Photographic Chronicles: SHOOT! A Skateboarding World Cup

Words & Photos: Jacques Marais


Extreme speeds and a cult culture clash into focus when you shoot skateboarding, and what better place to do it than in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape!

Extreme speeds and a cult culture clash into focus when you shoot skateboarding, and what better place to do it than in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape! The arid plains of the Diamond Fields will, at first glance, not seem like the perfect place to present a world-class event like the Maloof World Skateboarding Championships. I mean, other than the Big Hole, what are you going to find in Kimberley?

These may have been my first thoughts when I went to shoot this mammoth gathering of skate punks from around the globe, but any doubt was soon dispelled upon arrival in the ‘Diamond City’. The rock stars of skating were all in attendance, from Andy MacDonald and Pierre Luc Gagnon to Manny Santiago, and not forgetting Jean-Marc Johannes from Cape Town and the rest of the South African SK8 contingent.

The fantastic skate park blew everyone away and more than once I heard the American skaters bemoaning the fact that they had to travel all the way to Africa to find the best skate park in the world!

Add to this the friendly vibe so typical of the Northern Cape and you just know you have a kick-butt event waiting to go off. And the Maloof Money Cup certainly did, with 540 drifts and more backside power slides than you could shake a deck at. And the only way to shoot all of this? At extremely high speeds, of course!

Image 1: Diamond City Grind

The Action: I wanted to combine the history of Kimberley with the contemporary action of the Maloof Money Cup, and the ‘Old Town’ section of Kimberley was just the place.
The Shot: I set up a shot with Ply, a young skateboarder from Thailand, along one of the sidewalks passing an old tram, and used my brand new, under-the-radar Nikon D600.
The Technique: I selected Commander Mode for the flash, with an off-camera SB-910 unit firing from a doorway to illuminate the skater in the shade of the awning.
The Specifications: 1/250th sec @ f8; Nikon D600 + 16 mm fisheye lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Auto); AE Setting (-1 EV); monochrome process added in Adobe Lightroom.
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Image 2: PLG, In Your Face

The Action: The world-class vert ramp in Kimberley’s Maloof Skate Plaza towers a good two storeys high and, for three phenomenal days, this was the playground of the gods of big air.
The Shot: During the practise rounds, we were given pretty much carte blanche to shoot the skaters up close and personal, and Vert Champ Pierre Luc Gagnon did a fly-past right in the zone.

The Technique: Two NIKON SB-910 flashes, connected to Pocket Wizard TT5 transceivers, provided bi-directional fill-in flash from both sides, eliminating the harsh midday shadows.
The Specifications: 1/800th sec @ f8; Nikon D800
+ 16 mm fisheye lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Sunlight);
2 x Remote SB-910 units; AE Setting (-1 EV).
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Image 3: Big Air Assault

The Action: Day three saw continued action on the vert and mini-mega ramps, with awe-inspiring aerial manoeuvres by the world’s top skateboarders.
The Shot: After three solid days of shooting skateboarding, I was keen to explore different techniques and thought I’d try out my Lensbaby Sweet Spot 35 mm.
The Technique: The Lensbaby is basically a 35 mm lens where you have a sharp focal area in the centre with gradual blurring towards the edges, thus creating a pleasing effect.
The Specifications: 1/1 250th sec @ f5.6; Nikon D800 + Lensbaby Sweet Spot 35; ISO 100; WB Setting (Auto); AE Setting (-1 EV); on-camera fill-in from SB-910 zoomed to 135 mm.
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