Photographer Dawn Kish did not take this image of John "Verm" Sherman climbing Super Pin in the Needles of the Black Hills from the ground. That would be too dull for the vertically-bound adventure photographer, who is also an avid rock climber. Here's Kish reveals how she captured this image, which is featured in our Extreme Photo of the Week gallery.
Adventure: Where were you located for this shot?
Dawn Kish: I was located on the next pin over. It was one of the warm up pins called Tent Peg. They climbed up and left a rope up for me on the anchor. I jugged (ascended) up the line and put myself on rappel, so I could go up and/or down the rope for the best angle.
A: Climbing 10 Pins in one day is intense. Did you shoot John on every pin?
DK: Yes, I shot all ten; and John climbed all ten in one day. We were tired in the middle of the day, but we had some Coca-Cola and Cheetos, then went back to work. It was work getting so many shots. Usually, you set up a shot and shoot it a bunch of times. I was trying hard to get good angles and not get in their way. I didn't want to be a-wait-for-me photographer. I wanted to be more from the hip and let them concentrate on the climbs.
A: Tell us about your strategy for working with John and making sure you got the shots your wanted.
DK: We climbed the pins a few weeks before, but not all in one day. So I knew what kind of difficulty it would be and the effort it would take to do this project. John said, "I want to climb them all in one day." I told him I could take photos. We waited for nice weather and needed to find a competent climbing partner. Cheyenne Chaffee was our man. He is a climbing guide up in that area and said he could do it on his day off. We scouted most of the pins and the angles but some shots were improvised that day.
A: What type of gear do you use for these shoots?
DK: For cameras, I use Nikon D7000, this camera is fast and light. For climbing shots, you need this. You already have a heavy pack for climbing gear and don't need more weight slowing you down.
A: Where is your favorite place to photograph climbing?
DK: Almost anywhere. I love the rock and climbing it. Every place is unique and some are more scenic than others. When I'm out on the rock and shooting, I’m so happy to be hanging off a rope or finding the right shot. It is physical work making it happen with set up, rope management, light, and talent. There is a lot of jugging, and sometimes you are soloing up faces with your gear. Making anchors and tying yourself off to get these certain angles. It can be physically challenging. But when I'm outside making photographs of what I love to do, then all other matters just melt away.
A: Are there any other behind-the-scenese tips from this shoot?
DK: On this day I had a lovely assistant, Becky Hamling. I never have an assistant while shooting climbing and this was groovy baby! She offered to help if I needed it, and I took her offer. With an assistant, I could move faster and get to where I needed to be on time. Thanks, Beck! Also, thanks to John and Cheyenne for a job well done. Strike!
- Nat Geo Expeditions