Through a string of mutual friends, I was put in contact with the snowboard team manager from ROPE Clothing (www.21rope.com), a super nice chap by the name of Sebastian. It was one of my first shoots of the winter season, and with Sebastian’s contacts, we organized a day up the mountains at the Postalm Arena ski resort, about 90 minutes outside of Salzburg in Austria. We were given pretty much free reign over the whole resort and we opted for a remote spot usually frequented by cross country skiers. That is to say, there were no lifts, huts or anything else in the background, just a few flat lines cut into the hillside. I had packed a set of snowshoes in order to make it up to the spot, but fortunately, during the visit to the main office to grab the branding flags for the resort, one of the staff offered to take me up on the “Pistenbully”, one of the huge snow preparation machines you’d see smoothing out the runs. This was fortunate, as with four bags of gear, it would have been a pretty tough trek.
When I arrived, the guys from ROPE had already started building the kicker jump at the bottom of a downhill straight about 200m long, heading straight for the kicker which stood at around 1.75m high. I set up my Elinchrom Quadras and tried overpowering the sun at first, but not even syncing at 1/2000th with my Fuji X100 was giving me desirable results as we were on the sunny side of the mountain. I resorted to shooting natural light in the end. Hannes, the rider in this shot, was throwing out great moves all day, and his last trick was this huge Frontside 720, which I captured in burst mode on my Canon EOS-1D Mark II N with a Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens attached. My camera was set to manual, 1/1250th at f/5.6. He stopped after this jump though, as if he remembered that it was one year to the day that he’d broken his back doing something similar, so best not to push it!
Back home, I fired up Photoshop and Bridge CS6. First I applied my usual corrections to each raw file in the sequence, an extra half stop on the exposure, a touch of contrast and clarity, and a fix on the white balance. From here, I returned to Bridge, and using the Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers function, I now had each frame loaded into a single file. As I wasn’t shooting on a tripod, there is very slight movement of the camera from frame to frame. To combat this, I used Photoshop’s “Align Selected Layers Based On Content” function, which lined each frame up perfectly. From here it was a case of going upwards from the final layer, creating a layer mask, inverting the mask and painting in each rider with a white brush until I reached the top layer. I flattened the file and added a few more tweaks in the form of a B&W adjustment layer set to soft light, and a color adjustment layer with +2 yellow in the highlights and -6 blue in the shadows. – David Robinson
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS-1D Mark II N, Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens – 1/1250th at f/5.6, ISO 100