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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alpine Action

Apply your scenic vision to capture unforgettable skiing and snowboarding shots

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Looking for unusual snow features to place in the foreground will help to convey depth and dimension in your ski images. Athlete: Weston Deutschlander. Location: Solitude, Utah.
Memorable scenic imagery is often divided into foreground, middle ground and background elements. Accordingly, this different approach to ski imagery is based largely on the same time-tested compositional elements.

Search for engaging foreground elements that will grab the attention of the viewer and complement the skier in the scene. These foreground elements run the gamut, from a well-placed rock or mountain feature to simple contrast between sunny and shaded snow. While the skier remains the anchor in your image, this foreground element can create good visual tension and add drama to the image.

Winterscapes are often shaped and sculpted by wind and weather, making for interesting linear formations in the snow. These formations can serve as perfect leading lines, taking the viewer directly from the foreground of the image to the ski action itself. Search for cornices, runnels, shadow lines and other linear features to add depth and scale.

Tied closely to the use of leading lines is where one places the athlete in the image. If you incorporate leading lines in your image, be sure that they’re leading to a well-placed skier in one of the aesthetic “thirds” intersections we’ve all learned about in elementary scenic composition. Rules certainly were made to be broken, however. Don’t be afraid to experiment and throw traditional composition out the window!

Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM II
Action Shooting Requires Specialized Equipment

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Like other areas of photography, you must be adequately equipped to capture the best ski shots.

Most serious action photographers shoot with bodies capable of 8 fps or higher.

Matching the need for a fast body is a “fast” lens. I prefer constant-aperture zooms with maximum apertures of ƒ/2 or ƒ/2.8. Newer DSLRs give stellar results at higher ISOs, making it possible to cut corners a bit with an ƒ/3.5 or ƒ/4.

Clik Elite Contrejour
Find a pack that holds all the required gear for your shooting and that fits your body and the activity for which it will be used. This is especially important with ski photography, as you’ll be required to negotiate challenging terrain with a full load of gear. You don’t want to feel limited by the pack you’ve chosen to use.

Don’t forget extra batteries. Cold weather can be harsh on battery life. Preserve battery life by removing them from the camera and placing them in a pocket next to your body when not in use.


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