Superb shots and the stories behind them
JERED & ASHLEY GRUBER
“It was the very end of the second day of shooting in the lunar landscape of Bardenas Reales in the southeastern corner of Navarre,” says Jered Gruber who, along with his wife Ashley, shoots cycling, adventure sport and travel around the world. “We had been going hard for most of the day and were trying to get something nice to celebrate that perfect moment where the blazing sunset caught the outrageous amounts of dust the two motos were making. We had been shooting all over the hillside but, for the grand finale, we ended up in a simple spot right next to the road, crouching with the Z9 and 70-200 2.8 – and just let the motos and cameras work their magic.”
For the Grubers, it was their first experience with the Z 9.
“The autofocus was astounding,” says Jered. “It felt like we couldn’t miss, even in some very difficult backlit, dusty conditions – at high speeds. Months on, I’m still smiling at these pictures. Those few days in Bardenas changed so many things for us. It was the moment when mirrorless became the way forward without any question – in the best way. I think back to those moments when we just found ourselves in awe of the machines we were holding, minds constantly blown by what it was possible for them to do.”
Z 9, NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, ISO 400, 1/2000s
Kristian Schuller is known for his dramatic fashion shoots and use of colour. He also loves to mix high-tech equipment with traditional methods of creativity.
“This was my first shoot with the Z 9 and was partly inspired by the look and feel of some work I’d done with Harper’s Bazaar that I liked a lot,” says Kristian. “I thought, why not carry on with that energy, that vibe, that atmosphere? The Polaroid portraits by Sarah Moon have a special atmosphere that was part of the inspiration for this shoot, too.”
Kristian’s arresting images are the result of painstaking work to create an often otherworldly atmosphere. “I like to build layers and depth, so that colours can vibrate,” he explains. “I’m not a photographer who just puts a girl in front of a wall and takes an image.
“The yellow and blue colour around the face is not done in post or with any Photoshop tricks. I create it the old-fashioned way, with filters. And the balloons have just been thrown down. I liked using a super-modern camera, the Z 9 – which is the top of the range of what a camera can possibly do, including shooting 20 images a second – and yet create something with it that feels quite handcrafted.”
Z 9, NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S, ISO 100, 1/50s
The shot above by the chief Getty photographer Matthias Hangst was taken during pre-competition for the Women’s Freestyle Skiing Aerials at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“Most of these sessions take place at night, but this one was in fantastic daylight,” says Matthias. “In the past, I shot similar frames with a pre-
focused set-up, guessing the distance of the athletes. But with the Z 9, I used the AF to get in-focus frames. It is still a huge challenge because of the fast movement and the falling snow but with the new mirrorless AF and the higher frame rate of the Z 9, my hit rate increased massively.”
Left is Germany’s Karl Geiger ski-jumping at the same Winter Olympics. “It was a night session and I was looking for something different,” says Matthias.
“The technique of creating this type of shot is not new but is always a good challenge. The frame is shot with a really slow shutter speed of 1/5, with a controlled move of the camera at the end of the exposure to create the ‘blur’. Some might think it’s not possible to shoot effects like this one on a mirrorless camera, but here’s the proof!”
Freestyle skiing aerial
: Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, ISO 320, 1/6400
Ski jumper: Z 9, NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, ISO 64, 1/5
It’s a view no goalkeeper wants to have – the ball whistling past him
and into the net. This was the fate of Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris during a Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And multiple award-winning sports photographer Mark Pain was there to record the unfortunate (for Lloris, anyway) moment.
“I had decided before the game to test the Z 9’s 3D AF facial recognition mode on a goalkeeper,” says Mark. “I was shooting in manual exposure as I do 99% of the time, 20fps with the AF set to AF-C 3D with facial recognition turned on. Lloris is a very fast and nimble goalkeeper and Spurs had been under a busy spell of pressure with Lloris having a lot to do. In this image he had just made a decent save but had only managed to parry the ball to the edge of the penalty area. The ball came straight back at him with a fast shot from the edge of the box and flew past him into the net.”
Z 9, NIKKOR VR400 f/2.8G, ISO 1250, 1/2000s
The aurora borealis or northern lights is one of the most stunning visual displays in nature and Swedish photographer Goran Strand knows how to capture it more than almost anyone. In fact, in 2016 Sweden issued a set of five stamps using his images of the phenomenon. The first image was recently chosen as Nasa’s photograph of the day and is a 360° panorama over Östersund, Sweden.
“I love how the northern lights are shaped almost like a big bird flying over the city with its wings spread out,” says Goran. “The Z 9 is really easy to work with, even with gloves, and the back illuminated buttons really help at night.”
The other image makes use of the Z 9’s new Starlight mode. “This night was really something special,” says Goran. “Temperature was down to -22°C and you could hear cracking noises from the trees in the cold. Standing there in the cold in total silence is quite emotional when you see all the stars in the sky.
“With the Z 9 I always feel comfortable working in cold temperatures and the new Starlight mode is just amazing, helping me to make proper compositions and set focus in total darkness.”
First image: Z 9, NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2,8 S 4 image panorama, each image is a stack of three photos with the following exposure settings: 20 seconds at ISO 6400, 14mm at f/2.8
Second image: Z 9 with FTZ II adapter and the Nikon AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Fisheye lens 5 shot panorama, stitched together using PTGui software. Exposure for each photo was six seconds at ISO 800, 8mm at f/3.5 D 810 28mm1.4, ISO 2800 1/400 sec @ f /2.5
Automotive specialist Amy Shore travelled to the GP Ice race in Zell am See, Austria, in January 2022, where hot racing meets very cold conditions.
“It’s always a worry shooting in the cold because you worry about battery life running out, and condensation between filters,” she says. “But I also knew that many of the cars looked at their best in the snow – mean and awesome.
“Using the Z 9 meant that even in the freezing temperatures of the mountains, I managed to easily get a full day of shooting out of the battery. But it’s the camera’s 3D tracking that was a huge game changer for me. Composing a panning shot while I was in a vehicle as other cars slid past me on an ice track was a doddle!”
First image: Z 9, NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, ISO 100, 1/80s
Second image: Z 9, NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, ISO 125, 1/200s
AFP photographer and photojournalist Jeff Pachoud was at the Beijing Winter Olympics to cover the alpine events but, with the sliding centre close by, decided to get in on some of the action, despite knowing very little about the sport.
“When I don’t really know what I’m going to see I like to move around freely with little gear and look for the frame,” he says. “When I’m covering sport the NIKKOR Z 100-400 is the perfect lens, not too heavy and fantastic quality. And since I was exploring a new sport I decided to start at the beginning – the start position.”
After watching two or three athletes at the women’s skeleton event Jeff began to notice the reflection in the competitors’ helmets, and when Austria’s Janine Flock lined up at the start he was ready for this shot.
“I had to be wide to frame the athletes going past so quickly but thanks to the autofocus on the Z 9 I was able to take the shot and crop in to achieve the result,” he says.
Z 9, NIKKOR Z100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, ISO 2500, 1/3200s
Multi-award-winning Getty sports photographer Clive Mason knows his way pretty well around a Formula 1 track, having covered more than 350 races in his time. This year, it’s all change in F1, with new rules to encourage more close racing, new cars and new challenges. Clive arrived at Bahrain for the season opener with a new partner – the Nikon Z 9.
“The Z 9 was a steep learning curve but a very fast one,” he says. “This was the first time I had shot a race with it and it worked really well. I really like the real-time shutterless view. In a sport as fast as Formula 1 you can’t afford to miss anything.”
In amongst the speed and sound of a race, what is it Clive looks for in a great shot? “It’s the same things: colour, light, movement,” he explains. “You want a sense of movement from the car and you’re always looking for something different, a new way to portray the drama of the sport.
“Since Bahrain is a night race under lights you use the artificial light and the fairy lights of the fairground to your advantage where you can. I’m shooting here at 20fps.”
New rules in the sport means the cars look quite different in 2022 – the main visual difference being the addition of wheel coverings. “The cars are very good looking, and photograph well,” adds Clive. “I’m not sure about the filled-in wheels, though. McLaren has done an interesting thing, using the Google colours on its wheel covers. We’ll see what others do.”
Z 9, NIKKOR 600mm f/4E VR, ISO 160, 1/30s