Thursday, April 24, 2014

Close Formation-Ducks in Flight

We like this photograph of two drake mallard ducks flying in close formation with their wings set.  This is a little different than what we usually get when the ducks are dropping in to land in the local creek.  This pair was low and locked up as if they would drop in but instead they kept going to make another circle around the area.  Speed was very fast.
The wings on the left duck are almost straight and make a strong diagonal line that contributes to a dynamic composition.  Indeed, the two ducks are flying so close to each other that together they form a nice diagonal.
100-400 lens at 400mm, 1/1600 at f/5.6, ISO 640.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wings Set and Feet Down

This is another favorite photograph of a duck in flight with his wings set and his feet down as he glides to a landing.  The drake mallard was coming in hot and has deployed his feet as air brakes to slow the descent.  I was positioned next to a creek and a lot of ducks were coming in and flying back out during their spring courtship flights.
100-400 lens at 400mm, 1/1600 second at f/5.6, ISO 320.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wings Cupped/Feet Down-Ducks in Flight

This is an exciting shot of two ducks in descending flight with their wings cupped and feet down.  Photographs like this are rewarding because it isn't a high percentage shot.  The descent is rapid and often the ducks are slipping side to side.  This makes it difficult to keep them in focus, not to mention in the frame.  It was fairly early in the morning so the sun was still low enough to put some soft light on the undersides.
100-400 lens at 200mm, 1/2000 second at f/5.6, ISO 1250.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Close-up: Giant Slalom Ski Race

This is one of our favorite photographs taken during an alpine ski race on the giant slalom course.  Good close-ups are difficult because the skiers are at such high speed that it's difficult to keep them in the frame of a long lens when they get so close.  A shot like this pays off, though, because we can clearly see the intense facial expression on the athlete.  The eyes are also visible through the goggles and this adds considerable interest to a viewer.  That's just luck, however, because many skiers wear darker goggles in the bright sun.  We have peak action, too, as the skier is just making contact with the gate.
400mm lens, 1/2000 second at f/3.5, ISO 100.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Giant Slalom Ski Race and off-camera flash

This alpine skier is racing on the giant slalom course.  It was taken in the very late afternoon on an overcast day so the natural light was weak.  We set a Speedlite on a tripod on the side of the course to give us better light.  The flash was slightly uphill from the gate and angled to light the skiers from the side and a little behind.  We have to avoid popping the flash directly into the skiers' faces.  The Speedlite was triggered with a wireless radio.
This single light brings out all the colors on the skiers that would ordinarily be quite drab with the flat, natural light.  It also gives us a nice separation from the background.
70-200 lens at 150mm, 1/1250 second (high-speed sync) at f/3.2, ISO 800.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Giant Slalom Ski Race

This is one of our favorite photos taken during the recent alpine ski racing season.  The skier is turning at a gate on the giant slalom course during a race and he has a very aggressive stance that shows great speed.  The skis are on edge, the body is crouched low, right hand almost touching the snow, legs sharply angled and powdery snow trailing behind.  Many of the gates provide action like this but we chose this one because of the clean background.  We were downhill of the gate and placed the subject in the upper part of the frame to accentuate the fact that the skier was coming from a higher point.  The sunny day was crucial to getting some detail in the snow and providing nice contrast and color.
400mm lens, 1/1600 second at f/4, ISO 125.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Portrait on a Chairlift

This portrait of a couple was set up on a chairlift at a ski resort.  The couple chose the setting to fit the skiing theme of their upcoming wedding.  A lift was chosen at the slope farthest from the lodge so that there wouldn't be many other skiers riding.  This allowed the lift operator to slow the lift and give us more time to shoot.
We shot in the late afternoon with a low sun.  The temperature was quite mild and this allowed the couple to be comfortable without heavy clothing.  I had two assistants holding speedlites that were mounted on monopods.  We were standing on a steep slope and with the monopods extended the lights could give some fill on the shadow side.  We did two runs on the chairlift and got 6 shots on each pass.  I used the 70-200 lens so I could zoom as the chairlift approached.  This frame was shot at 148mm.
The overhead cable that supports the chair ran from the top of the frame to the heads of the couple.  It was out of focus but still appeared to be a distraction so I removed it in post-production.