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Ski Photography: Advice

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Does anyone in here have experience with serious Ski action photography? If so how do you usually transport your gear? Do you have any special backpack rigs you use?

I am headed out to Jackson Hole this year and Bob Peters said it would be ok to let me photograph him and some of his ski pals out in Jackson Hole. Since I started skiing a couple years ago I thought it would be awesome to try my hand at some skiing action pics. Airshows make up the bulk of my current action portfolio and I have been going to the Tetons for a few years now for landscape and wildlife photography.

Equipment I will use is a Canon 300 2.8L-Weighs about 8 pounds and is about 2 feet long with detacheable hood. I would probably pigyback the lens in a lowpro lens tube slung over my pack. I use a Lowepro mini trecker pack for hiking usually.

I would be limiting my other gear to the Canon 200 2.8L, 24-70 2.8L IS, A few filters, Digital Album and 2 BP511 Lithium Cells.
post #2 of 28
I would leave the 300 at home. It's too heavy. I shoot with a Nikon 70-200 2.8 which works wonderfully and weighs much less.

Get closer to the action. Use a zoom lens.
post #3 of 28
I have 2 different fanny packs ( one small one too small for a motor drive equipped body and 2 lenses, the other a Lowepro Orion ll), a Tamrac photo backpack, and a Tamrac chestpack.

None are optimum for serious shoots, so I, as have done several ski shooters, added a solid foam insert to a good climbing/ski backpack. I had a foam shop do the work, and cut out inserts for my gear thusly: two circular holes for my 17/40 and 28/70, two small slots for a 1.4 and 2x, one for a flash, and a large one designed to hold my EOS1n w/motor and 70/200. A removable piece fits into that opening. When removed, it allows the 300/2.8 sans hood to fit, attached to the body. Two large detachable side pockets can hold skins, food, etc. There's some room up top for clothes, etc, or a second body...and side slots for skis/ probe, and a shovel pocket.....This particular pack has a unique zipper opening in the back panel, allowing for quick access without removing the pack, just slide it around your waist and unzip....same as you can slide it around to ride chairlifts.

The 300/2.8 is overkill for most ski shooting except shooting racing......
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbtree
I have 2 different fanny packs ( one small one too small for a motor drive equipped body and 2 lenses, the other a Lowepro Orion ll), a Tamrac photo backpack, and a Tamrac chestpack.

None are optimum for serious shoots, so I, as have done several ski shooters, added a solid foam insert to a good climbing/ski backpack. I had a foam shop do the work, and cut out inserts for my gear thusly: two circular holes for my 17/40 and 28/70, two small slots for a 1.4 and 2x, one for a flash, and a large one designed to hold my EOS1n w/motor and 70/200. A removable piece fits into that opening. When removed, it allows the 300/2.8 sans hood to fit, attached to the body. Two large detachable side pockets can hold skins, food, etc. There's some room up top for clothes, etc, or a second body...and side slots for skis/ probe, and a shovel pocket.....This particular pack has a unique zipper opening in the back panel, allowing for quick access without removing the pack, just slide it around your waist and unzip....same as you can slide it around to ride chairlifts.

The 300/2.8 is overkill for most ski shooting except shooting racing......
Have you ever taken a spill with the gear in your pack? If so how much protection did the foam offer? The pack I use has the standard padded compartments
post #5 of 28
Bob P. is in good shape. Make him carry some of your gear!
post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by steelman
Bob P. is in good shape. Make him carry some of your gear!
and then some...This would be like having your very own Photo Caddy.
post #7 of 28
Try to record some sound while you are at it, Its going to be very telling to hear a 33 year old from Ohio, carrying 25 lbs of camera gear, wheezing next to the old JH guy at 10.5K altitude.

Hey, I thought Bob was always BEHIND the camera?
post #8 of 28
A 300mm F2.8 lense is just about use less for shooting skiing. I have one, and it has only been out of the bag once to shoot skiing.

A 70-200 mm F2.8 Is a much better choice as it is the work horse lense for every ski photog. The 24-70 may have some use for shooting "how to" type shots but is a very boring focal length for producing action images. The 16-35 would be a better choice.

Dakine makes a very good dedicated camera pack for skiing. It is called the Sequence.
post #9 of 28
I'm on the verge of upgrading from my Sony DSC-V3 Point and shoot to a digital SLR for my casual ski photo hobby.
I used to carry around an ELAN 7, so I'm used to lugging an SLR.

Was thinking of the Canon 20D, but am now leaning toward the Olympus E-1 due to it's pro type weather seals on the body and lenses. I was going to put the Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8 on it (28-108 35mm equivalent).

The body can now be had for $750, so it seems like a great deal for a durable skiing camera. It's only 5mp, but the lens quality is supposedly outstanding for the price.

Any thoughts on the E-1. Or the E-1 vs. the 20D for skiing?
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvemeister
I'm on the verge of upgrading from my Sony DSC-V3 Point and shoot to a digital SLR for my casual ski photo hobby.
I used to carry around an ELAN 7, so I'm used to lugging an SLR.

Was thinking of the Canon 20D, but am now leaning toward the Olympus E-1 due to it's pro type weather seals on the body and lenses. I was going to put the Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8 on it (28-108 35mm equivalent).

The body can now be had for $750, so it seems like a great deal for a durable skiing camera. It's only 5mp, but the lens quality is supposedly outstanding for the price.

Any thoughts on the E-1. Or the E-1 vs. the 20D for skiing?
If you understand that you will have a limited range of lenses and accessories for the Olympus system then it's a draw. Neither model realy is going to give you a fast frame rate or professional autofocus system. If you want the best AF and action set for the action then look at the Canon 1D MKII. or Nikon D2X. With attention to detail though and some work you can get around the limitations of the slower feature sets for most situations.

Here are a few samples from this year airshows using the Canon 10D(same performance specs as the 20D) and 300 2.8. Working with only 3 fps has its disavantages but I have never been in a situatioin where I could not get the shot I wanted.













Shock Wave Formation just under Mach 1:



post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by steelman
Bob P. is in good shape. Make him carry some of your gear!


SkierXman:

I'd be more than happy to lug some gear around. I'm generally carrying a pack full of useless crap anyway, so what's another 10# of camera gear?

For my own camera gear, I usually put the camera body/lens inside a small gore tex dry bag and then wrap a fleece or softshell around that. It's not very elegant, but it seems to work.
post #12 of 28
: WOW! Those are great shots. Amazing!

I fully understand the limitations of a more modest camera, but there's no way I can afford the higher end stuff, or justify a 300mm 2.8 lens as a hobbyist (unless I never buy another pair of skis).

I just want a decent camera that I don't have to worry too much about ruining and will take some photos similar to my film SLR, but without all the tedious scanning. I'm tempted to wait for the Nikon D200. Its a bit steep for me though and I really want to nail one down before I get out to Colorado in January.

I figure that for $750 on the E-1, I can sink a bit more into a better lens or two than I otherwise could afford.

Hey - post some more photos!! :
post #13 of 28
I forgot to also add that those photos are simply amazing.

I love the one of the shock wave - it looks like the RIO is hanging on for dear life.

Cool stuff.
post #14 of 28
skierxman,
nice photos! Skiing action photos can be hit or miss if you try to capture an image similar to the arial shots. I have done some action shooting of ski racers and worked as a model in action ski photography. What I found with my shooting, if I picked a location to shoot, I could pre frame the shot and be ready when the skier came into the frame. With this, I wasn't zooming too far away or trying to refocus as the action got closer.
As a action ski model, I was instructed where the shot was going to be taken, and what type of action the photographer wanted, so I could plan my skiing accordingly. So, a similar plan by the pro, to what I found out as an amater. With this method, a 150mm to 200mm lens was fine. Picking a place with good light is another thing.

RW
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters


SkierXman:

I'd be more than happy to lug some gear around. I'm generally carrying a pack full of useless crap anyway, so what's another 10# of camera gear?

For my own camera gear, I usually put the camera body/lens inside a small gore tex dry bag and then wrap a fleece or softshell around that. It's not very elegant, but it seems to work.
I think I can fit everything in a backpack. The other's are right though- The 300 would probably be overkill.

Sounds like a good idea with the fleece. I always keep my batteries inside my base layer in cold weather as they will wear out fast when cold. Last year at the zoo in the winter they depleted in 15 minutes. The fleece is a good idea.
post #16 of 28
skierxman,
nice photos! Skiing action photos can be hit or miss if you try to capture an image similar to the arial shots. I have done some action shooting of ski racers and worked as a model in action ski photography. What I found with my shooting, if I picked a location to shoot, I could pre frame the shot and be ready when the skier came into the frame. With this, I wasn't zooming too far away or trying to refocus as the action got closer.
As a action ski model, I was instructed where the shot was going to be taken, and what type of action the photographer wanted, so I could plan my skiing accordingly. So, a similar plan by the pro, to what I found out as an amater. With this method, a 150mm to 200mm lens was fine. Picking a place with good light is another thing.

RW
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvemeister
: WOW! Those are great shots. Amazing!

I fully understand the limitations of a more modest camera, but there's no way I can afford the higher end stuff, or justify a 300mm 2.8 lens as a hobbyist (unless I never buy another pair of skis).

I just want a decent camera that I don't have to worry too much about ruining and will take some photos similar to my film SLR, but without all the tedious scanning. I'm tempted to wait for the Nikon D200. Its a bit steep for me though and I really want to nail one down before I get out to Colorado in January.

I figure that for $750 on the E-1, I can sink a bit more into a better lens or two than I otherwise could afford.

Hey - post some more photos!! :
Thanks. Actually the airshow scene are quie easy. The focus is usually set at or near infinity for ost aerial shots and pre-metering ahead of time eliminates any delays in shooting. I have some more from this years show at http://www.phototracks.net/NewGallery.htm

The one thing you will find most striking going from a P&S is the shutter lag(or lack thereof). Action shots are hit or miss due to the lag you get when you frame and hit the shutter on the P&S models, even when half pressing for AF lock.
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
I forgot to also add that those photos are simply amazing.

I love the one of the shock wave - it looks like the RIO is hanging on for dear life.

Cool stuff.
Thanks Bob. I am used to seing contrails but this guy was getting a full conical shockwave forming moving towards the rear and I was thinking maybe they were pushing it a bit too hard and were going to break mach 1 and bust everyone's ear drums. You lose enough hearing just being 100 yards from them when they go by on full afterburner. When he pulled up the whole aircraft was enveloped in a full opaque mist.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White
skierxman,
nice photos! Skiing action photos can be hit or miss if you try to capture an image similar to the arial shots. I have done some action shooting of ski racers and worked as a model in action ski photography. What I found with my shooting, if I picked a location to shoot, I could pre frame the shot and be ready when the skier came into the frame. With this, I wasn't zooming too far away or trying to refocus as the action got closer.
As a action ski model, I was instructed where the shot was going to be taken, and what type of action the photographer wanted, so I could plan my skiing accordingly. So, a similar plan by the pro, to what I found out as an amater. With this method, a 150mm to 200mm lens was fine. Picking a place with good light is another thing.

RW
Thanks Ron. Do you pre-meter or just use the camera metering? I find in the snow things get tricky, especially with the squirelly metering on the 10D. I usually meter off the back of my hand and use the histogram to look for blown out highlights then set the meter manually. Snow can be tough.

Keep the tips coming.
post #20 of 28
Great pics. I was totally out of line before, you WILL be behind the camera. Looking forward to seeing the results. Some good desktop image candidates there.
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkierXMan
Thanks Ron. Do you pre-meter or just use the camera metering? I find in the snow things get tricky, especially with the squirelly metering on the 10D. I usually meter off the back of my hand and use the histogram to look for blown out highlights then set the meter manually. Snow can be tough.

Keep the tips coming.
Buy a hand held incident light meter. Tahts the best trade secret that I can give
post #22 of 28
I noticed some pics posted by AstroPax at TGR that were shot with a Nikon D2X w/ VR 70-200 lens. I'm linking because the shots are so sweet and skiing related. Nice conditions at Alta today!






post #23 of 28
I think a prime lens is going to limit your shooting quite a bit: it's going to be hard to frame the image well unless you can move back and forth a lot and this can be difficult on a hill with skis. A zoom lens is a much better bet in this situation. Also carrying around a huge, 8lb lens is going to really suck (trust me). I shoot with a 70-210 zoom and this works great. I carry it in a normal hiking backpack, but I put the camera in an insulated "lunch sack" I got at Kmart for $7 and it provides both padding and insulation against cold. I've fallen a few times but since the pack is on my back and skiers don't fall on their backs so much (compared to snowboarders), it's never been a problem. Also, you don't need a fast lens so much since you're dealing with so much light with skiing action (f4 is plenty fast enough).

Here's a gallery of some of the shots I took last season:

http://www.transmitmedia.com/photos/skiing/
post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
I noticed some pics posted by AstroPax at TGR that were shot with a Nikon D2X w/ VR 70-200 lens. I'm linking because the shots are so sweet and skiing related. Nice conditions at Alta today!






Sweet. Awesome pics and exposure. This is a good example of how the higher end models like the Nikon D2 Line and the Canon 1D/1DS Line will give you more performance and much better dynamic range. The highlights are not blown out but the shadow detail is still there.

With the 10D/20D and the Nikon D100 you can get results but it takes a lot more work in PS with levels in the digital darkroom and you often end up with blown out highlights that are unrecoverable, especially in high contrast situations.
Contrast the above shots with the shot below I took with the Canon D60 at JH last year. Notice how the highlights(especially in the foreground) are overexposed and blown out in areas and the shadow detail is underexposed. This shows the limited dynamic range of the D60 to handle these type of harsh lighting conditions. Also, the higher end models let you set tone curves ahead of time in the camera itself. If I only had an extra $6,000




.
post #25 of 28
Skierxman,

Quote:
Buy a hand held incident light meter. Tahts the best trade secret that I can give
I have used an older seconicl28c2 incident meter, which works well, but in many cases I would face the direction the action was comming from and meter about 6" away from my face to get a reflected reading from the meter in the camera. That seems to work well. I haven't done any action ski shots with my digital camera yet, but have done equestrian sports like stadium jumping and dressage. The lighting is much easier than ski shots and the camera did it on auto and action setting very well.

In snow action shots, as you know the contrast is a problem and with many shots strongly backlit, detail is often lost in the shadowed areas, like faces. Many of the sessions that I was used as a model, we did it quite early in the morning 8:00 to 9:30 on eastern exposed slopes with the photographer positioned toward the east shooting towards the west so the sun was on my face as I entered the shoot zone. Anyway, have fun and best of luck!

RW
post #26 of 28
SkierXman, thanks for helping me to appreciate WHY I liked those photos. I looked up the Nikon D2X and even if you put a $6K 12.4 megapixel camera in my hands, no way would I get the same results. Take a look at a cropped action shot. This is clearly pro photography level stuff. It blows me away this stuff is not copyrighted in any way (posted at TGR):



And the original uncropped:
post #27 of 28
These pictures are great! I love taking good pictures. I had taken a few photog classes in HS and college, and was fairly good at it. But these days, if the conditions are like those I see in these pictures, there is no way I could convince myself to stop and pull out a camera and set up for pictures like that while all that powder goes to other people. I have the same problem with mountain biking. Lots of great pictures posted on the MTBR Passion forum, but I'd rather be riding than stopping all the time to take pictures. Plus, lugging a good camera around and having to ski more conservatively due to fear of breaking it, is not very appealing.

About the cameras, my take is that it's all in the lenses. You could carry a $10k medium format camera around if you want, but a $300 body (film) or $1000 (digital) and some good lenses will save you a lot of money and take pictures just as nice as long as you aren't going to blow them up into billboard sized prints.

The flaming will now commence, so that the people who have spent a year's income on equipment can justify their expenses
post #28 of 28
transmit, very nice shots, especially with the 70-210 f4 (sure it's not the L f4?) which isn't known for its fast AF. It shows that the photographer is more important than the equipments.

I have the 70-210 f3.5-4.5 and may tempt to bring it with my 20D to the mountain this year to give it a try.

Thanks
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