Top Ten Ski Photography Tips
Always coming back from your ski holiday with 27 duds? Check out our top ten tips for taking great ski photos.
1. Avoiding underexposure
Mountain photography usually entails shooting in very bright conditions. The snow is bright, the sky is bright and you’ll need to compensate, or you’ll end up with your subjects looking like dark outlines in the snow. If you have a light meter take a reading from your skin or a greycard. Take an incident reading with a separate light meter and set exposure accordingly. As a general rule compensating a half to one full stop in bright conditions will help to counteract strong light.
2. Know your tools
If you have a camera that has a delay for auto-focus, a red-eye flash or an outdoor fill flash you’ll need to know and adjust your way of taking photographs accordingly. You don’t want to miss your friends’ tailgrab or iron cross because there was a delay while the camera unnecessarily compensated for red eye.
3. Keep the camera warm
It is going to be cold out there, but your camera needs to be warm, otherwise the batteries can run down very quickly. Keeping the camera warm also prevents build ups of static electricity, which can damage your film. So keep it inside your jacket, close to the heat from your body, until you’re ready to shoot.
4. Avoid Blurring
To avoid excessive blurring take action shots with subjects moving towards you or away from you. If you take a picture of the skier or boarder moving at a right angle to your camera then you could end up with just a blur.
5. Achieving a motion blur
Sometimes though, you don't want to avoid blurring and you want to capture the impression that the rider is moving quickly. Firstly, you’ll need a steady hand and secondly, if your camera allows you to change the speed of the shutter, set it very slow and follow the rider as she goes past you. You’ll have to try to keep your subject in the middle of the viewfinder while you follow their motion, by panning your camera with the skier. As on the left, the swift haze behind the skier gives a much better impression of speed.
6. Use flash
Using flash in a bright outdoor environment may not seem the natural thing to do but it can sometimes help light up a figure in the foreground against a very bright background.
7. Find some contrast
Try to frame your shots with a reference point in them. This will break up the picture, give it some contrast and stop everything but the subject being a whiteout. If you’re in doubt, try to fill the frame.
8. Stay safe
Don’t stop under the crest of a hill, right underneath a bump or anywhere where people coming from above cannot see you. Not only could you get injured- you could injure someone else. If you must stop somewhere where you feel unsafe then give other riders an indication that you’re there- plant your board or cross your skis in the snow a little ways above you to give people coming from above warning.
9. Shoot lots of film
Shoot lots of film. Start shooting as soon as you can, bring plenty of film and don’t stop shooting until you run out. The pictures you see on the covers of the big skiing and riding magazines may be taken by pros working with red hot skiers and boarders- but the picture you see is probably the best of a thousand actually shot.
10. And finally… Take your skis off. Standing uncomfortably at the side of the slope while your friends zoom by randomly will not a great skiing picture make. Prepare the location and know what you are going to shoot and from where. Get some fingerless gloves so you can take off your fat warm gloves and operate the camera without getting frostbite. Pester your friends into helping you build jumps and then get them to do crazy tricks for you (and you know we can’t take any responsibility for what happens…). And remember the golden rule - have fun!
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