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.

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