Modern snowboarding has been around longer than you think. Forty seven years to be exact. It first took off in Michigan when Sherman Poppen fastened two skis together and attached a rope at one end, so his daughter could glide downhill.
via Maria G.I
Named the snurfer, in homage to snow and surfing, it sold over a million in the next decade. Nearly fifty years later things are very, very different. Now you’re more likely to lipslide than glide. And, now more than ever before, you’re more likely to catch those moves on camera. But what’s the best way to take those dope shots? We talked to our photography pro, Adam Monahagn, to find out.
Get it White!
We’ve all taken snow pictures thinking we’ve got a great shot, only to look at the LCD screen to discover it’s all a bit blue. So in any photograph featuring the powdery white stuff the first goal is always to get it white!
Most cameras have a number of built-in scene settings and snow will inevitably be one of these. However, because you need to be in control of all of the cameras functions, it’s far better to shoot in ‘manual’ so that also means manually correcting the white balance. Every camera will do this slightly differently, so get out the instruction book and learn how to do it right!
What are you shooting?
Yes, yes… we know you’re taking pictures of snowboarding, but what sort of picture do you want to get? What is the focus of your photo? Are you trying to show a specific trick? Or maybe wow everyone with the height of the jump? Or are you after a more scenic shot with the rider as just one element of the overall feeling? Since each type of picture needs different kit and will require you to be in different places, you need to think up front about what you are trying to achieve.
The risk you run otherwise is trying to get a bit of everything and ending up with a lot of nothing. So instead, aim for one thing and nail it!
Know the subject
It should go without saying that the more you know about what it is you’re photographing, the easier it’ll be. This is true of gigs, sports, weddings – anything. Knowing, roughly, what will happen next allows you time to prepare both yourself and your camera. It will also mean you’re in the right position to capture the most intense moments – whether that’s a likely spot for wipe-outs, the biggest carves or the most air.
Stating the Obvious
There’s no point in getting the best position with the best kit only to find every photo is blurred because you’re shaking with cold! Being outside in the snow is likely to be a chilly business – especially at an event where you could be photographing all day from one spot.
If you’re already dolled up in your ski gear, perhaps the only addition needs to be a proper pair of photography gloves. Like fishing gloves, these have fingers and thumbs which fold back allowing you to work the dials and buttons without freezing your whole hand.
And just like us, cameras and their batteries work best within certain temperature ranges; outside of those they will become sluggish and eventually cease to function. So invest in a good camera rain cover which will help protect your camera from any defrosting snow which falls on it and also save it (a little) if you take a tumble!
Get Off Camera
One of the best investments you can make for your camera is an external flash gun and a remote trigger. Firing the built in flash will produce all sorts of unwanted side effects and leave your photos looking flat and boring. By positioning the flash – or flashes – away from the lens you can put the light where you want it and create dramatic and dynamic images.
Compose, Compose, Compose
It doesn’t matter if the eyes are perfectly in focus, the scene is properly exposed and it’s the biggest trick of the day, if the photo is badly composed then it will totally fail. Of course, some post-shoot tinkering can be done afterwards, but you should always aim to get the essentials right “in camera”. This means getting to events early to check the angles and get the best spots, photographing the test runs to get the composition right and patiently sitting there (instead of going to the bar) whilst you wait for the proper stuff to start.
Lastly, never forget, that when it comes to creativity, all the rules are there to be broken.
Hopefully these top tips will help you dazzle people with your photos as well as your tricks. If you have any others you can think of we’d love to hear about them.