Skateboarding Photography - Real or Faked?

Discussion in 'Sports' started by billangel, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. Hi:

    I happened to peruse the "Photo Annual Collector's Edition" of the
    magazine "Transworld Skateboarding" which has just reached the
    newsstands. Perhaps I've been doing too much digital manipulation
    work recently, but 8 or 9 of the images in that publication looked
    like they were the result of digital editing (i.e. inserting a
    dramatic image of a person skateboarding into a empty street scene)
    rather than what is normally referred to as straight or un-
    manipulated photography. Other examples of these types of images,
    some of which appeared in the Photo Annual issue, can be examined at,12616,,00.html

    I'm not saying that all the images are faked, just that some of them
    look faked!
  2. Speaking as someone who does this kind of photography; No, these images are not faked,
    and I have never heard of anyone faking a photo and passing it off as a real trick.
    Skateboard photography is a flashy version of documentary photography.
    People are actually attempting these tricks in real life. People are not place into
    environments. Do you have doubts about any photos in particular that are included in the
    link you provided.
  3. What you are seeing as digital manipulation is probably the effect of the off camera strobes that alot of skate photographers use. If I understand correctly they do this to separate the subject from the background but also because most skate magazines still require slow slide film.
  4. Here is the link to one image I find troublesome:,12680,612660,00.html

    You will note that the person skating appears to have been "oversharpened" relative to the rest of the image. Also, if he is in fact traveling at high speed from the left to the right in the image, why is his hair blowing in the direction that it is? I think that his hair is blowing in the wrong direction, relative to his supposed direction of movement. It should be blowing to the left, rather than to the right.
  5. His direction of movement is from the right to the left of the photo (which is entirely consistent with the way his hair is blowing). Having the board behind him as he landed would mean a nasty spill. It does look like the web image may have had some heavy-handed sharpening, but that's not an indication the image was faked.
  6. Hmm... OK I admit I know little about the dynamics of skateboarding, but I am perplexed as to how he obtained the height above ground that he is depicted as having reached, if he is presumed to have embarked on his trajectory from the platform depicted in front of him in the image. I do not believe that there is any ramp present (similar to a ramp on a ski slope) that would have thrown him into the air on a trajectory that would have enabled him to have reached that height.
  7. its called a rocket board...
  8. The photographer was crouched atop the ramp, aiming his camera upward,
    and using a superwide lens (around 17mm on 35mm format). This
    exaggerates the height of the skater and minimizes the slope of the ramp.
    This kind of shot is pretty standard fare for the genre--there's nothing unusual
    about it.
  9. I think the transworld photo annual this year was pretty poor photo wise. They lost Attiba and Humphries and in my humble opinion, I think they are the best skatephotographers out there today. But i think you maybe have thaught some of the photos were faked bc of the use of the fill flash, I dunno. But those mags wont print "fake" images unless its obviously fake and used for what some people refer to "comedy"

    skate or die brotha man
  10. Traditional Skateboard photo technique is to use off camera flash to expose the skater and freeze motion. this is why he appears overly sharp, compared to rest of the photo. the off camera flash also enables the photog to underexpose the background relative to the skater which is common practice in skate photos. this is why the skater tends to look like he is "popping out". He achieved his height by launching out of a quarterpipe similar to the ones you see on the left in the background of the photo you linked to. Additionally, the use of a fisheye exaggerates this distance.

    You should go check out a skatepark in your area or stop by the local skateshop and pick up a skatevideo. i'm sure you will be amazed.
  11. imo, the whole photo is oversharpened. It looks quite bad. But i wouldn't say it's "fake", nope.
  12. I appreciate the knowledgeable answers that responders have contributed to this thread. I am therefore encouraged to post a link to another image, an image which also leaves the viewer pondering the question of just how the skateboarder managed to have elevated himself to his present location in the picture. The image can be viewed at:,12680,627859,00.html
  13. Probably launched from a ramp or gentle curb on the higher ground behind the barrier. Check out some pro skater videos, and you'll see that the tricks in these photos aren't that extreme.
  14. Bill,

    Next time the X-Games are on, don't flip past. Stop and watch for a bit.

    You will be amazed.
  15. He's definitely moving from right-to-left in the photo. He likely launched himself from a small ramp in the bottom right-hand corner of the picture, the one with the metal tube (or rail) at the top. He's going to land in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture, on the slope you can see. This is called a "transfer", where you jump off of one surface, and land on a different surface, unlike many stunts where you go up a ramp, and then come back down onto the same ramp.

    The lighting is provided by at one off-camera strobe on the photographer's right, with maybe a fill strobe on the left. You can see a definite difference in the light levels between the boarder and the background; he's been brought up to the light levels of the clouds in the background. If he hadn't been, the ground would appear brighter, but the sky would be pretty burned out.

    Yes, this picture appears oversharpened, but it may just be JPEG compression artifacts, too.

  16. In the second picture you're doubting, the rider is doing a "kickflip" (look at the very bottom of the page, you'll see the name of the stunt with every picture). You would be amazed how much air a good boarder can get with a kickflip, or an ollie (which is basically the same thing without the flip of the board).

    In this picture, it's likely that there is a flat surface leading up to the railing (which we can't see), and the boarder is going to land on the flat ground at the very bottom. Yes, it's a long way!

    How to do a kickflip:

    How to do an ollie:

  17. nope, not fake at all. oversharpened? maybe a little but this is also the effect 2 or 3 off camera flashes have. Everyones answer was pretty much correct except if you want to see some GOOD skateboarding, don't watch the x-games, watch a recent skateboard video from the kid down the street that skates or whatever.
  18. how come you never see the REAL photo's, you know...the one where they are grabbing at their cojones just after a rail rack, or a landing gone bad and the skateboard trys a rectal escape?
  19. >>>how come you never see the REAL photo's, you know...the
    one where they are grabbing at their cojones just after a rail rack,
    or a landing gone bad and the skateboard trys a rectal

    Go watch a skate video. They usually show all the f**ked
    attemps at the end. Nevermind the X-game, they are lame.
  20. Though I shoot for the BMX industry, and not the skateboard industry, the photo techniques are much the same. And as far as I am aware, there is virtually no "faking" going on in skate/bmx photography. At worst, there might be digital removal of a sticker/logo/sign for a competing company. But this would be more likely to happen in an advertising image.<P>
    Here is one skateboarding image I shot of a friend though:<p>
    <IMG SRC="">
  21. BJ... in the kickflip picture (the second picture), I think the guy lanched from the adjoining bank on the left side of the shot. My guess is that's why that part of the bank is included in the photo. Anyway, just something I thought... I'll leave the skater talk at that. Back to the photography.
  22. its is funny to hear an outside opinion of skateboarding and skateboarding photography. is it faked? thats an insulting question.well maybe not as much insulting as ignorant. do you think that any sports photography as a whole would be faked? i am proud to be a photographer of skateboarding as we are one of few sports where art and stlye is as important as the trick.
  23. My .02

    Check out YEAH RIGHT!, one of, if not THE best recent skateboard video release. The video features some of the best skaters in the world, including Marc Johnson, who was recently voted best street skater of the year by the readers of Transworld magazine. Many times in this and other videos you'll see how the photogographers and videographers create lighting using generators and lamps, multiple off-camera strobes and flashes, etc. Yes, its hard to believe some of the tricks that these guys pull off, but you'll see, this stuff IS REAL, and the photographers go to great lengths to accurately capture the spirit of skateboarding. Visit your local skate shop.

    If you're interested in shooting local skateboarders, visit your local shop or skatepark for info on local spots, upcoming demos, or contests. Professional demos offer a rare chance to shoot photos of professionals in action.

    And oh yeah...Atiba IS the undisputed king of skateboard photography!
  24. Yeah its all real in the magazines, unless when obvious manipulation for comedy or artistic purposes is used. Faking a trick- just not done. In fact, excessive use of the fish-eye or death lens is now frowned upon by many skaters because of the false, exagerrated effect of bigger stairs/ higher block/ longer gap, etc. This has resulted in many skate photographers and filmers alike refraining from use of fish- eyes to eliminate accusations of fooling the viewer. Oh, and Yeah Right! is not all real (Ollies over two picnic benches/ feebles up rails/ 5050s on neck-high boxes- invisible kicker)- of course still an amazing video.
  25. I think it is a disgrace to say that the photos in Transworld are faked most skateboarders wouldnt want to be in a fake, digital photo as it ruins skateboarding. I am 15 from N.Irealnd and I am a skateboarder and I am also very interested in photography and every time I go skating I shoot photos of my firends using my 35mm slr. I only ever show people the real image unless i edited it for joke to make them look stupid.
  26. In the video "yeah right" there are some parts, which are obvious to skateboarders when they use invisible ramps and boards for both artistic and comical purposes. I am not sure on the exact technique they used to do this but in the special features part of the video the skaters are seen with specialy painted green boards that do not show up on the camera, im guessing this is a technique similar to the green screen effect. About the debate of the authenticity of skateboarding photography i can assure you that nothing you see is fake. Atiba is a very well known and respected skateboarding photographer but if your looking for the best check out
    I have been skateboarding for 12 years of my life now, and am 19 years old. I love skating more than anything in the world, and i found what you said offensive saying that you think lots of skate photos are faked.
    Not only do I skate, but I am also a skateboard photographer, and know how the magazines work when it comes down to photography. Magazines will NOT run a fake, manipulated photo. Even if the photo is of a trick that isnt a land, they will NOT run it unless it is infact a land. EVERY aspect of a skate photo is 95% of the time real, unless someone manipulated it as a joke of some sort... In fact, when you send in photos to magazines with hopes of getting it published, sometimes you can send them an edited version (by edited i mean things like color correcting, or adding contrast etc.) and if they like it they will sometimes ask you for the RAW file. which is a setting on more professional camera bodies which disables the camera from doing anything to your photo, so basically what ever you tell the camera to do, it will do, and since that isnt a JPEG, they will for the most part know that you did NOT tamper with that and they will color correct it (etc) to their likings and THEN publish it.
    watch this video part and you WILL be amazed at what people can do on a skateboard.
    PLEASE watch it, trust me.
    skateboarding can be summed up in just a couple of words.
    amazing in each and every way possible.

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