Behind The Photos: Best Action Shot & Up and Comer Image from ‘Uprising’

words:: Ben Osborne 

The newest photo competition in Whistler, ‘Uprising’ has come and gone, but the impact on the community—and the $9000 CAD that the event raised for Protect Our Winters won’t be soon forgotten. Another part of the show that won’t be forgotten? The pictures, of course.

While the winning slideshow was decided upon by a people’s choice vote, there were two more winners—the ‘Best Action Photo’ and ‘ Best Up and Comer Photo’. Mason Mashon and Duncan Sadava were the respective winners, voted on by a panel of judges including our very own creative director, Amelie Legare.  Each participant (up and comer and professional) got to choose one photo to submit and were judged based on their category.

To shoot either of these photos represents an unfathomable task for the general population. To produce the images during a 72-hour window when conditions are unpredictable takes a lifetime of practice and a heavy dose of luck. To celebrate their win and the memorable photography spawned from ‘Uprising’, we sat down with each photographer to get the full story behind the photo. —ML

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Best Action Photo: Mason Mashon

Conditions lined up just right for Mashon to capture this classic in the 72 hour window—a combination of luck, and knowing exactly where to be.

Mason Mashon is no stranger to the Coast Range—and it that’s not proven from his many, many photos published in Mountain Life (one of them landed on the cover), take a look at his Instagram and you’ll no doubt be impressed by the multi-faceted Mashon’s ability to seemingly always catch the best conditions no matter where he goes—it’s one of the reasons his mentee in the competition, Tyler Ravelle, was so excited to work with Mashon.

It’s also no surprise that when one of the most recognizable peaks of the Coast Range, Mt. Fee, came into form during the 72-hour window, Mashon was the one to capture it perfectly. Having snowmobiled in the area for years and watching the peak closely, there are few photographers better prepared to capture such a moment.

When Mason realized the snow was ideal and the face was ready to be skiied, it was a waiting game. “We were just waiting for the right light” Mashon explains. “The face is in the shadows alot of the day, which is why it’s tough to get a good shot of”

At around 4:30 PM, Mark Abma was ready to drop. Mason was shooting just one ridge away, and he quickly got into position.

“I’ve shot it from different angles where the back of the mountain is more visible, but I wanted a bit more foreground in this shot. We were pretty tight on time, so I rushed to find the angle and it ended up being a great spot to shoot from.”

Rushed or not, the photo turned out to be a crowd (and judge) pleaser, and for Mashon and Ravelle, a shot that wrapped the whole slideshow together.

“A lot of the photos in my show are backed or include shots of Mt Fee. This shot was the pinnacle of this whole experience.”, says Mashon.

To top it all off, Mashon donated the winnings ($2500 CAD) from the shot to Protect Our Winters—talking about paying it forward.

Best Up and Comer: Duncan Sadava

James McSkimming howls at the moon.

Being paired up with Reuben Krabbe could be seen as a gift or a curse. Known for his tendency to tackle huge projects, it was no secret that Reuben would likely try something out of the box. As Mason Mashon put it during the pre-show interviews—something along the lines of “I think any of us have a good chance to win—unless Reuben does something Reuben-y”.

What does he mean by that? Between Krabbe’s capturing of a skier in front of the solar eclipse, and then his most recent antics with Nick McNutt, he’s gained a reputation as a bit of a photographer of the impossible, if you will.

So what did his partner Sadava do? He decided to follow suit.

“I realized that the weekend we were aiming for also coincided with the full moon, so I proposed to Reuben that we try to get out in the backcountry for a nighttime session. The idea of riding some pow laps in the moonlight had actually been on my mind for a few years,” Sadava explained. “I went through a bunch of trial and error, frustrating failed attempts, and some photo-nerd brainstorming with Reuben..  and eventually it worked.”

To make a shot like that a reality while managing snowpack and cold fingers is a daunting task. But, with a mentor like Krabbe, and some dedicated athletes, it always helps.

“I didn’t end up strapping into my snowboard once that night, so my dream of moonlit pow laps will have to wait for another night, but the photo turned out even better than I had imagined.”

Well, Duncan—it turned out better than we could have imagined too. Congratulations on your winnings and production of an unforgettable picture. A special thanks to the Sea To Sky Communuity, all the photographers involved, and Origin for putting on an amazing show. It’s not something we will soon forget.—ML