Friday, March 22, 2013

Ski Race-Giant Slalom

This is a photograph of a skier at a gate on the giant slalom course.  I was very fortunate to be able to photograph the skiers of a local team during a training day.  It was not an actual race so I was able to position myself in the middle of the course, something I can't do on race day.  It is certainly possible to get angles like this during a race since the course layouts can vary a lot.  But on this day I didn't have to worry as much about being in the way.
Two factors about this camera position are notable.  First, this head-on position lets us see the athlete's face and the extreme body angle.  Second, I was positioned slightly below the flat spot where the gate is located.  This allowed the camera to be almost level with the flat spot and below the athlete's head.  Both of these factors contribute to a dramatic action shot.
400mm lens, 1/4000 sec at f/3.5, ISO 100.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Alpine Ski Race with Off-camera Flash

This image of an alpine ski racer on the giant slalom course was taken in mid-January near the beginning of the race season.  The days are short and the late afternoon races get dark early.  I set a speedlight, with a wireless trigger, to the side of a gate and positioned myself down the course to get more of a head-on view.  It's not good form to put the light directly into the athletes' faces but the coach and skiers gave permission for the side lighting.  The side lighting is much more pleasing and the camera angle is dramatic.  The speedlight is set for high-speed sync so the shutter speed can be high enough to avoid ghosting.  The drawback is that the light won't recycle fast enough for more than one shot per skier.  Focusing is an issue, too.  It's difficult for the camera to track reliably in the dim light.  Pre-focusing can work if the timing is dead-on.  I try to frame tightly, though, and using a wide aperture there isn't enough depth of field for any error in the timing.  Not every photo comes out perfectly sharp but I have better results not pre-focusing.  70-200 lens at 200mm, f/3.5 at 1/1000, ISO 500.