Nathan Kelly by MikaAltskan
Local photographer Mika Altskan appears to have unprecedented access to a gravity defying group of athletes (or super heroes). Whether they’re pulling an E.T. move on their bike or skating horizontally through the air, he’s there to capture their raw talent with his camera. Aside from the great stop action in the shot above, the color, the low point of view, and the timeless, carefree emotions that are portrayed make this shot a winner. The icing on the cake for me is the lens flare, something that is sometimes accidental but adds a unique touch of cinematic beauty to the shot, a photographic snowflake if you will. This photo makes me want to play hooky so I can practice my own skull cracking stunts in the final days of warm weather, but who am I kidding? I’m only a daredevil when I’m in or on something motorized, preferably with an airbag. I’ll leave the bone breaking activities to our youth.
Skate Face by Mika Altskan
Back in junior high I was a skater for all about, oh, three months. I begged my dad to buy me a Tommy Guerrero board and proceeded to destroy my mom’s good scissors by cutting grip tape (basically sandpaper) for the deck. I had all of the gear, all of the clothes, and none of the moves. I think as soon as I realized I wouldn’t be pulling off an ollie any time soon, I stuck my board in a closet somewhere and went back to riding my bike. It was definitely money well spent by my dad.
I thought everyone went through the same three month phase, however I’ve recently learned that there are many adults still skating! I was part of a photography show not long ago at a place called Fight Club here in DC where all of the local skaters go to ride, and it was there that I met my friend who is not only really old, but also one of the best skaters around. In fact he organized a downhill race on President’s Day last week where guys hauled ass down a section of Beach Drive, much like you see in the photo above. In some of the more hardcore longboard races around the world the skaters can reach speeds of up to 60-70 miles per hour. This is not a sport for wussies.
I have no regrets about hanging up my skate when I was a kid, but I really admire people who stuck with it and make it look easy. Be sure to check out Mika Altskan’s Flickr stream for more great downhill skating shots. As a 16 year old FotoWeek DC finalist, he’s got a lot of talent. It’s obvious that he’s not afraid to get right in the action with his Nikon, a skill that separates great photographers from the average ones.