Field Notes

Field Notes In Action:

Alpine Expedition

January 31st, 2013 by Bryan Bedell


Stephan Mantler is a professional photographer based in Austria, specializing in outdoor and adventure sports. Stephan uses Field Notes to keep track of his assignments, travel, and to, erm, take notes… in the field. Our new weatherproof Expedition Field Notes came in handy when he traveled to Martigny, Austria for the ISMF ski mountaineering race on assignment for the German and Austrian national teams and a major sponsor (see Stephan’s ISMF Alpiniski 2013 photos). Here’s his report:

On Friday there was a sprint race, in which athletes qualify in individual time trials for subsequent heats. My Field Notes contained the bib numbers and individual start times of the athletes I needed to cover, so I always knew when to have the camera ready for the next athlete and when I’d have enough time to change my position on the course or check up on the two GoPro cameras I had mounted on the course. These cameras were running in time lapse mode, so I took note of the start time to have an estimate on when to replace batteries or memory cards. After qualifications I also kept track on which athletes were assigned to which subsequent heats all the way to the finals.


The individual race followed on Saturday. Individuals are always a bit more involved, because the best photo spots aren’t easily accessible unless you can score a helicopter ride (it happens, but not this time). So I checked the course maps for potential locations (and shortcuts, to catch the athletes twice or even three times), and talked to the trainers on the day before to have an estimate on when the athletes would be coming through. Of course this all was taken down in the Field Notes again and provided valuable reference information in the field, ensuring that I had ample time to explore a few potential angles before the lead athletes arrived. One of the guys I need to cover usually comes through in the lead or top three, so it’s essential I’m all settled in and ready to shoot as they arrive.

The weekend was a fairly typical assignment; driving a total of 2200km (1,350 miles) in four days, covering two races in alpine conditions, editing and transmitting photos at night with little sleep in between means my tolerance for bullshit products is really low. I love the things that I can rely on, and Field Notes is one of them. I’ve come to prefer the durable Expedition Field Notes, because you don’t end up with soaked, smeared and torn pages when things are a little rough. And they always are when you’re an adventure sports photographer at 2500m elevation.