It's pretty rough for aspiring ski photographers out there.
Half the time the camera doesn't work or the lighting isn't great or that one
perfect shot was just too hard to get. Add in the cold and it's almost too easy
to call it quits.
Even for professionals like Jack Affleck, director of
photography at Vail Resorts, shooting in the cold can be rough, yet rewarding,
"An ideal day for us out on the hill is 15 degrees
[Fahrenheit]," Affleck says. "Don't be discouraged by the temperature - it's
the best snow and no one is out there. If you want those great fluffy action
shots, [the temperature] is going to be between zero and 15 degrees."
That may sound too cold now, but when you're looking back at
your great photos from your ski vacation, you'll only have warm, fuzzy
memories. Take these tips from Affleck to make sure your photos turn out great.
Keep your hands warm.
There's no sense in losing a finger to frostbite, Affleck says. If you shoot
quickly, both your subject and your skin will thank you later.
"Know to go inside," Affleck says. "Things go wrong quickly
when it's cold outside. Mother Nature can sometimes be a cruel equalizer. She
can slap you. Be aware of the people around you, yourself, and your ability.
Thinking gets compromised when temps drop below zero."
To keep himself warm on frigid days, Affleck will wear
spring gloves (so he still has dexterity), gets the shot off quickly and gets
his hands back into his jacket to revive them.
Keep your camera
A few things happen when your camera gets cold; the shutter speed slows
down, battery life gets sucked up, and the lenses can get frozen.
"Keep your camera inside your coat if possible," Affleck
says. Another ingenious suggestion he has to keep that camera warm? Put a pair
of Toasti Toes on the camera itself. "It'll block some of the view screen but
it is something to keep your camera warm if you are out on one of the near zero
Another problem cameras have in frigid temperatures is going
in for lunch. Taking your freezing camera into a humid, hot lodge may kill your
camera for the day. Moisture will gather on the lens, fogging over, and it will
freeze when it gets back outside. Some cameras have up to seven elements in the
lens - making it impossible to wipe off moisture on more than the first
element. Affleck keeps his backpack and camera outside so that the camera stays
at the same temperature and is ready to go after he's warmed up.
Embrace the cold.
According to Affleck, the best conditions for taking a great photo are in the
cold. No one's around, the skies are clear, and the snow is as light as can be.
Preparing yourself for freezing temperatures will help you get off the perfect
shot, he says.
"If it's a brilliantly bright and it's freezing cold, we'll
go for it," Affleck says. "Embrace the cold and be prepared for it."
To get ready for those below zero days, Affleck will
acclimate his body for the cold by not wearing a coat the first few times he
walks to the car or purposely sitting outside for lunch on a chilly day. He'll
also make sure his subjects don't look cold in the photographs he takes -
asking them to remove their neck gaiters and extra layers.
"You don't want people to look at your photo and say 'Man,
that guy looks freezing.' You would never know that the skier that just has a hat
and goggles on also has a neck gaiter in his pocket," Affleck says. "Don't make
a cold photo. Make a great photo in the cold."
In previous articles in this
photography series, Affleck spoke about taking pictures in flat light, getting
a great action shot, and compiling the perfect ski vacation album. "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.