Ski photography tips for during the shoot
Choosing the right models is key to Ross’s professional work – they need to look right from a technical perspective in every shot, and be willing to perform tricks again without fuss. Our two models, snowboarder Rob Norton and skier Becky Hammond, had both worked with Ross before.
The classic telephoto shot
“We started our shoot at the idyllic Alpine resort of La Fouly, a small picturesque Swiss resort that nestles in the mountains,” Chris says. “My first task was to nail a classic telephoto shot of our model and professional freestyle skier Becky Hammond carving a turn.
“A high shutter speed of 1/2000 sec was the order of the day to keep everything crisp. Ross explained you need to frame the shot so the skier dominates the frame, but not to crop so tightly as to lose the background and spray.”
Dig for drama
Our model and top snowboard instructor Rob Norton gets out the shovel to ensure that the ridge is high enough, and to make sure there is lots of loose snow that will fly into the air as he and Becky jump over the ridge, giving the shots a sense of movement.
For these jumps the models do not ski from the top of the mountain. To help ensure safety and to save time, they walk up from the camera position to the jump and then ski from just above the kicker. This way the jump can be repeated several times until you get the exact result that you want.
Take a low angle view
“The secret of these jump shots is in the planning. Our models climbed up to check out this bump and the landing area to ensure they could do it safely,” Chris says.
“To make the jump look dramatic, we took a low-angle view, so we could frame Rob against the sky using my telephoto zoom. I used my motordrive setting, but was pleased to get the timing right to get the point where Rob executed his nose grab. You need to follow the skier through the jump and try to keep them central.”
Ultra-wide lenses give an up-close-and-personal view of action. Chris used a Sigma 10-20mm at its 10mm setting.
Chris made holes in the icy snow to dig his boots into to stop himself slipping as he shot Rob at close quarters as he carved past on his snowboard.
Get perfect timing
“Getting this ultra wide-angle shot of Becky flying past is a lot harder than it looks,” Chris says. “You not only need to lie down in the snow, you have to dig your feet in so that you don’t end up sliding down the piste!
“Becky comes at you so fast that if you blink, you’ve missed the shot. Timing IS the key for this one – you only have time for one exposure. Ross told me to keep my left eye open so I could judge when to fire.
“The skier also needs to know exactly the shot you are trying to get, and how close you want them to be to you. You not only want the shoot to be safe but spectacular. You also need to ensure they pass over the spot that you have previously focused on.”
Using manual exposure was an eye-opener for our apprentice. There was no compromising on shutter speed or aperture – each was set for the needs of the picture – and then the ISO was set to ensure a perfect overall exposure. Rather than using the built-in light meter, Ross prefers a handheld light meter, so he can take an incident reading.
Try a multiple exposure
“On our second day we moved across to the more famous Swiss ski resort of Verbier. This gave me opportunity to practise shooting jumps on the purpose-built ramps in the park,” Chris says.
“This is a multiple exposure – made up of four continuous drive shots sandwiched together in Photoshop. The low angle and the ultra-wide lens meant I could follow the whole jump in a single frame.”
Chris’s mini tripod ensured the camera did not move during his multiple-exposure sequence. He also switched from raw format to JPEG, so that he could get as many exposures as possible from his D3000’s 3fps drive setting.
PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Ski photography tips for during the shoot
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day