Shooting different angles is what can make your action photos stand out from others. The shot above was taken at the Belgian championships freeride ski in Zinal and wasn't exactly easy to capture. Here's the why and how behind this photo
On the first day of the BK Freeride a photoshoot was organised for all riders on a set location. Over the course of two hours the riders got the opportunity to have their picture taken whilst doing a cliff drop. A great idea but not always an easy task from a photographers perspective. The location had several cliffs that could be used, this made it difficult to know where each rider would drop. There wasn't any communication between the riders on the top of the cliff and the photo and video crew at the bottom, this made it practically impossible to know when or where the action would take place. In order to get as many shots as possible I positionned myself next to a big boulder, grabbed my Canon 1Dx with a 1.4x converter and the amazing Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II. The lens and converter allowed me to get close to the action from a distance and also made it possible to place myself in a spot where I could still see all of the drop points and thus giving me a bigger chance of getting the shot of a rider droppig from the cliff.
Here's one of those shots
Katrien, the rider in this shot, chose to hit the most distant cliff, no problem for me because I could easily get the take-off, landing and distant mountains in the frame.
I'm always thinking about getting different angles and this occasion was no different. That's why I wanted to get the shot from down low under the drop. It was impossible for me to position myself under the rocks because that was exactly the spot riders could land when they dropped from another cliff. This is when I started thinking and soon came up with the solution.
I grabbed my Canon 5D MkIII with a 16-35 f/2.8,a pair of Pocketwizard radio triggers, connector cables and a tripod and headed off to set up for the shot. First I chose the angle from which I wanted to get the second shot. After this I placed the camera on the tripod, hooked up my Pocketwizard PlusIII and took some test shots. I carefully chose my settings, a small aperture to get a great depth of field, fast enough shutterspeed and a slightly raised ISO to obtain the proper exposure. The small aperture was very important because I wasn't able to autofocus when the riders shot through the frame, being at f/10 allowed me to prefocus, turn to manual focus and still have the rider in focus when the shot was taken.
Here's a cut out from the previous picture, you can see the 5D on tripod in the bottom right corner.
Okay so now everything was set up and I could return to my original position and resume shooting. I placed the second Pocketwizard on my Canon 1Dx and hereby enabled myself to shoot from two positions at the exact same time while only having to push the shutter once. I also didn't have to risk my life to get the shot from the bottom of the cliff because I was at a safe distance. And lastly I didn't limit myself to only getting the shot from one cliff when riders could decide to drop from other cliffs whenever they wanted.
I was very excited to try this technique for the first time and am pleased with how the technology allowed me to get these shots.
Here you can see bigger versions of both shots. Which one do you prefer?
1/3200 at f/10 and ISO 1600
1/5000 at f/4 and ISO 500
Rider: Katrien Aerts
See more pictures from BK Freeride at: facebook.com/BKfreeride