Behind the Lens: Perseverance and Extraterrestrial Handplants appeared first on Snowboard Magazine.

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Snowboard Iskola

A stylish handplant is always worth a photo. But a handplant captured by Swedish photographer and snowboarder Daniel Bernstål is another thing entirely. Bernstål plays with light and shadow to cosmically contrast the rider from his environment. Oftentimes that requires one to drag several strobe lights up mountains and through forests—an irritating yet fruitful practice.

In the following shot, snowboarder Johan Nordhag bursts from the mist at the Swedish waterfall Tännforsen. He vividly juxtaposes his surroundings and the onlookers above.

Bernstål, 31, has long had his eye on capturing a handplant at Tännforsen. At 42-feet high and 197-miles wide, it is Sweden’s biggest waterfall. In April, following three days of celebration during Sweden’s Åre Sessions, the (somewhat hungover) fellas pulled the trigger.

Daniel Bernstål

They built a small quarter-pipe to position Nordhag in front of the waterfall but forgot key materials (salt) and had to rebuild it several times. That’s why Nordhag’s hand “is buried in the lip.” For Bernstål, such obstacles are insignificant, though. After all, he has survived worse.

In 2010, Bernstål was in a motocross accident that destroyed his right knee: “ACL, MCL, PCL, LCL, both my meniscus, you name it,” he told Snowboard Magazine. The doctor wasn’t sure if he would ever regain mobility in that leg. Bernstål ignored the dismal prediction, however, undergoing six surgeries and spending countless hours in physical therapy. Eventually, he would prove the doc wrong. While on the mend and desperate for a distraction, Bernstål picked up a life-changing pursuit: photography.

He studied every photo he saw—its lighting, composition. For guidance, he contacted Swedish snowboard photographer Anders Neuman who became his mentor. Bernstål, meanwhile, nourished his own burgeoning style. To distinguish his photos from the increasingly deep pool of snowboard photography talent, Bernstål experimented with flashes, mixing them with natural light. “I think that’s one of my specialties and what makes some of my photos stand out from the rest,” he said. “Even though it’s a pain in the ass to carry those flashes on the mountain it’s still worth it when you get a photo with that special light.”

Sven Thorgren with a massive miller flip at Sweden’s Kläppen ski resort. There was very little snow at the time but that’s the magic of snow machines, eh?

Photography has been cathartic for Bernstål but he never gave up on snowboarding. Nearly two years ago, he attracted his first major sponsor, K2, at the age of 30. Still, he suffers from chronic pain that sometimes makes it difficult to walk much less snowboard. Now he just hopes his knee “will make it another season” because Bernstål has potential shots swimming through his head “that I need to make a reality.”

Snowboarder Nils Arvidsson in his hometown of Järvsö, Sweden. Bernstål, recovering from knee surgery, had limited mobility at the time. So they found a pile of snow in front of a church. A few hours of shaping and a couple handplants later, Bernstål got the shot.
Mans Hedberg and Niklas Mattsson deliver frontside inverts.

To be sure, Bernstål captures more than just handplanting snowboarders. In fact, we’re a bit taken by some of his portrait work too. Take a peek at more of his photos here.

The post Behind the Lens: Perseverance and Extraterrestrial Handplants appeared first on Snowboard Magazine.