It's a common story: you press the button, the camera takes
too long to think because it's a basic point-and-shoot and its cold out on the
mountain, and you miss that perfect shot of your buddy hucking himself off a
cliff. Rather than curse the heavens and chuck your camera off that same cliff,
listen to Jack.
Jack Affleck is the director of photography
at Vail Resorts and last week spoke to us about how to take a picture
in flat light. He says he's missed his fair share of action shots because
of lag time and has some suggestions so that it won't happen again.
"A lot of the times I screw up because I didn't think things
through completely," Affleck says. "What you have to do is think about the
photo you are going to take and plan it. It's more about the environment and
playing in it."
Take these tips to take better action ski photos.
Plan the shot"A lot of people look up the run and pan the camera, shooting pictures as
[the skier] comes down," Affleck says. "I would suggest framing a great
background and having the person ski into the frame." To make that one
great shot, you have to trust your skier and your abilities. Affleck says
you only really need one photo, but most people take a series of pictures
hoping one will work out. You never know when that lag time after the shot
will kill the perfect picture. Click the button once and know it will work.
CommunicateAffleck is extremely specific with his subjects. Communication is essential.
After discussing what shot he'll be going for, he'll ski down to a
mid-point in the run and throw a snowball in the exact place he wants a
skier to turn so that person knows the target and aims for it. He'll also
explain what the shot will look like and what kind of action he wants the
skier to make.
"Find that spot where you can
create one big, explosive moment," Affleck says. "Have them carry the speed
that will generate the intensity and energy in one big move." Affleck suggests
coaching your skier or rider in diving into the snow and bringing a lot of
energy to the shot.
"Shooting skiing and riding is
difficult because it's often times just shooting the person the way they
normally ski. You want to have them get after it and dive into the snow where
they almost stop - that photo will really emphasize the energy, the snow, and
the play in the environment."
Set your camera up rightWhat kind of camera takes the best action shots? "The most expensive one,"
Affleck says. But if you don't want to drop $8,000 just to get that one
action shot, put the camera on the right settings.
"Program mode will be the slowest," Affleck says. He
suggests putting the camera on "Kids & Pets" which is great at getting
sports shots and not using flash, as that slows everything down. In the end,
"the camera you have in your hand is the best one" he says, as missing a photo
is the worst shot to take.
Know the environmentTaking a sweeping groomer shot is really different from taking a
picture of someone bursting out of powder. Knowing the difference and
setting up the shot to match is key, Affleck says.
"It's actually very difficult to make a great, compelling
groomer shot," Affleck says. "One of the things to do is emphasize the corduroy
by lying down and putting the camera on the snow. You get these corduroy ridges
that look like they are eight inches high.
"On the other hand, it's pretty hard to take a bad powder
shot, according to Affleck. Shoot a person from the side, from down below,
whatever - just frame the shot and get the timing right.
Wait for it.People get too excited when they take action shots and press the button
too early, Affleck says. "Frame the shot. Toss the snowball. Talk. Wait
for it. Wait for it. Wait for it," he says. Don't get sucked into the "Oh
my god, this is it," mind frame. Timing your shot just right will ensure
that the picture comes out just right.
Jack spoke last week about taking
pictures in flat light. Next week, he'll explain how to compile the perfect
vacation album. Want Jack to explain something else about ski photography? Let
us know on Facebook or Twitter. "Like" Jack on Facebook to be sure to see the latest images from this talented photographer.
To see more action shots from Jack and get explanations on how he set up each one, check out our gallery on Jack Affleck's photos explained.