Here's my friend Nick playing in snow on our backcountry ski trip to Turnagain Pass in Alaska. This is where we spend a lot of time skiing in the winter with friends. I often don't bring my camera on these trips simply because I want to focus on the experience and not let photography be the primary focus. Every now and then, however, the weather conditions seem too good to pass. Whenever there is stormy weather, very cold temperatures or something like that happening, I'm always tempted to bring my camera as I know it usually brings great photo ops.
There had been a very cold period in Alaska for the past couple weeks and I had a feeling we'd probably have some fog rolling in the lower altitudes. We skied the day and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, which at this time of the year doesn't happen until 10am. The light throughout the whole day is pretty good at this time of the year because the sun is at a low angle until 4pm when the sunset happens. And that's why I love this time of the year for photography. You don't have to focus on being out there only at sunrise and sunset. I did take some other shots throughout the day as well and ended up liking many of then but the sunset did bring the best out of this day.
I had been keeping my eyes on the mountains that would create the background of my shot and found them to look the best in this direction you see in this shot aside from a couple impressive peaks that I photographed earlier in the day that were not going to cooperate with the light for sunset. Once I knew the direction I wanted to shoot, I only had to envision the foreground which in this case was easy with a simple add of a skier. I chose to shoot this with my 70-200L f/4 attached to my Canon 5D Mark III to make the mountains bigger. Choosing 70mm focal length seemed to do the job so now I just had to make sure I had enough room in the frame for the skier so I backed up about 10-20 meters. I then set my focus where I knew the skier would be going down so my camera wouldn't end up focusing in the background at the crucial time when the skier passed by, and turned the focus on manual so it wouldn't change by accident.
I also set my exposure the way I wanted. 70-200L f/4 is very sharp at f/8 so I chose that. I also had to go for a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement of the skier, and to be on the safe side, I went for 1/1000 sec. With these values set pretty high, I had to go for ISO 400 due to the lower light, but I knew my camera wouldn't produce a very noisy image at this ISO.
I handheld the shot as the shutter was so fast anyway and I didn't even bring a tripod. When the focal length, focus and exposure were set, all I had to do was to aim the camera and compose my frame.
I held up my camera looking through the viewfinder and shouted my friend Nick to ski as fast as he can. He was waiting about 50 meters higher from me at a spot where he could gain a lot of speed. As he started dropping down, and a little bit before entering the frame, I started firing shots with the continous shooting mode as fast as the camera can take them. As Nick skied through the frame, the camera recorded him four times in the frame in different positions. With the shutter set at 1/1000 seconds, you can tell he just flew by and the reaction time for the shot was extermely short.
This shot wouldn't have being succesful if I hadn't done all the work before it. The last light on the fog below added so much to the overall feel of photo which was the lucky addition I didn't plan on. Hope you enjoyed the little tutorial for what you need to consider taking these shots yourself.