Thursday, January 6, 2011

Frostbite, gray skies, and photography

The other day was one of those days where I questioned my choice to become a skiing photographer. Why couldn't I have chosen to shoot in a studio? Or maybe work as a skateboarding and mountain biking photographer year round? Days like this are part of my love/hate relationship as a skiing photographer.


It was a miserably cold day. One run, warming hut, one run, warming hut.... The endless cycle of trying to find warmth and then the determination to head out and ski regardless of the freezing -40 degree wind chill.

The kicker of it all? My dog had chewed my Swany Toaster gloves so i was stuck with regular old mittens. The toasters have a zip open side, and a warm liner that fits all fingers individually inside. When its time to shoot, simply unzip the side and pop your fingers out. This helps keep your hands warm all day as you click away! This was not the case for me.... I had to remove my mittens and sit in place for several minutes at a time waiting on the athletes and as i adjusted my settings. My fingers would quickly turn white and lose all feeling. Frost bite is serious and fortunately for me I restored color to my fingers quickly each time.


Get the Swany gloves and be a happier photographer.  And no, Swany does not pay me or give me free gloves or anything for this mention.  It's just how I feel, honesty is my policy.  Over dress to stay warm because its easy to peel off layers and not easy to get warm when you don't have any to put on.

The day was all about straight pow shots, and when it's this gray, you need to use terrain features to separate all the drab grayness. Try putting trees in the frame, and show your athletes face. Faces can bring a lot to a shot and are very important when the scenery is drab and not detailed. Shoot overexposed! At least one full stop to make the true white of the brightest parts of the snow show through. Amateur photographers images usually turn out quite gray. Overexpose and the results will be much greater.

Gray days are not the best for skiing photographers, but are still worth your time. Skiing wouldn't exist if it never snowed, and hardcore skiers can appreciate images no matter how gray they are.


So why do I shoot skiing even when its freezing cold and gray outside? When I'm out there I am living life to the fullest! Its all about the friendship with the skiers I'm with, and being miserably cold together. Also, the excitement we all get when we do finally get that great pow shot. Its a labor of love, even when I'm miserable and about to lose a finger. It's tough to explain, but maybe when your passionate about something, it doesn't need to make sense. Or maybe I'm just rambling on like a maniac! However you read into it, I love what I do and am very lucky to be able to do it everyday.

Have fun shooting what you shoot and if you love what you do, you'll never have to work a day in your life.


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