10 Winter Sports Action Photography Tips

Snowboarding and skiing are astoundingly photogenic action sports

However they're filled with quandaries: extreme weather can cause harm to both your camera gear and you, tough lighting (just for the unskilled), and naturally sports participants who might be bearing down on you faster than a speeding car.

Kids Snowboarding

Thoughtful planning, the proper equipment, gaining a sense of moments in time and knowing the location to stand (or to crouch down) can all help in overcoming weather-related issues letting you acquire some serious wintertime action photography. "The necessary skills needed are identical for all sorts of photography. You must develop an eye for that moment in time, and you must acquire good camera techniques and how to get the most out of your equipment.

If you're going to higher elevations in winter, carry tire chains, and be ready to make use of them, even if you're driving four-wheel drive vehicle. They could become compulsory at any given time. If you've rented car, ask the rental company about chain availability and their policy of using them. You might find chains to rent in high elevations, although you should not depend upon it.


1.It Will Be Cold - Dress For It

About the weather: It's going to be cold. Dress suitably. If your teeth are chattering, your toes and fingers have become numb, and your lips have turned blue, you won't put much concentration into shooting photos.

The most important aspect for photographing in any situation is being safe. Dress properly for the environment. For winter photography, I wear layers, and use an outer jacket with flaps and vents allowing me to open and close them letting me regulate airflow and thus control my body temperature. Mine is oversized sort of similar to a down jacket, although made from a synthetic material that doe not lose its ability to insulate when it becomes wet. This lets me dress lightly as I become active, then put on the coat when I become less active This lets me keep warm in various situations and lets me to give my attention to on the photography at hand, no matter if it's photographing a mule deer in the first morning light. or assisting a partner do an ice climb

Buy a pair of Warm Boots and Good Gloves Your feet and hands are the most vulnerable to becoming frostbitten in cold environments. Your boots should fit well and keep your foot from excessively moving around and creating blisters. You also should stay away from boots which are excessively tight as don't allow your body heat to circulate around your feet, and keep them warm. Typically I bring a minimum of three sets of gloves when I embark out into the wild country. I typically take a thin nimble pair a second pair for reasonable warmth plus a third heavy-duty insulated pair for when it becomes really cold. I keep a thin pair in my jacket pocket keeping them always pre-warmed as I need them.

2. Keep Your Batteries in a Warm Place.

Your camera will function properly in extremely cold temperatures so long as it's batteries work properly. Cold weather can zap the energy quickly from any battery, however warming them up will restore a good deal of their power. When Iím shooting extended exposures in places I can least afford for my camera to go dead as I'm photographing the northern lights, I secure a chemical hand warmer onto my battery compartment with a rubber band. Additionally, I keep additional batteries inside my jacket pocket where they stay warm. Quite often, I use a chemical hand warmer inside that pocket to quicken the battery warming process. Then I rotate these batteries by switching them between the camera and the warm pocket.

3. The Right Cold Weather Camera Gear

Snow is wet when it melts, while the electronic parts inside your camera do not like being wet. So, be sure you have a camera that is sealed against moisture. Consider obtaining a rain and snow cover to fit your camera like the one by Kata Series E-702. For capturing snowboarders and skiers, a digital SLR is a necessity. Compact cameras typically take too much time to focus, their reaction times are slow, and their miniature buttons may become impossible to operate with gloves on. A slew of cameras which are water-resistant are available, however the majority of them are compact cameras. A somewhat lightweight, small alternative exists in the Pentax K-7,and it's totally sealed against sand, rain and snow . There are a small handful of other weather-sealed DSLRs, although they're considerably pricier.

Camera Winter Bag

Bring two lenses: a wide angle plus a midrange telephoto zoom, within a 70-200mm range (35mm equivalent). You're not going to be needing a tripod, it will be extremely bright out there with all that bright snow, and a tripod will just be in the way. Mobility is crucial. And bring along the largest-capacity memory card available--you don't want to change memory cards out in the center of all that cold and snow.

I shoot Nikon, the lenses I typically use are a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. These lenses are both reliable, fast and crisp. The 200mm focal length is long enough for most situations, however, sometimes I use it with a 2x teleconverter. I also use an 8mm fisheye, and a 35mm f/1.8 lens.

My primary body for some time is the Nikon 300d, more recently I've been shooting with the 7000D which isn't quite as robust although much more updated and the weather sealing is pretty decent. Most often I rent the latest camera bodies as I need them within their initial year.

Skiing Air

4. Communication Devices

Obtain some two-way communication radios. A cell phone is not going to work (lack of towers, plus you don't want to risk dropping it in the snow), In it's place, use these radios to communicate with the group you're with instead. Buy a two-pack (allowing you to share) and get the water-resistant ones.

Skier carving turn

5. Setting Up Your Camera For Winter Sports Photos

Because snow is so white, the light meter on your camera will be mislead. However there's an easy fix: On a sunny day, aim your lens toward the sky, opposite the sun, and just lock your exposure setting. If the day is overcast, simply move the EV compensation on your camera to +2. This will overexpose your scene two stops, which will counteract your camera's natural penchant for underexposing a snowy landscape.

Keep in mind that because you'll be shooting action, you'll require a fast shutter to stop the action. Set it a minimum of 1/1000 sec. while if the option is available, use the "S" (shutter-preferred) function on your camera, which will set the aperture automatically while you control the shutter speed.

Shoot a few test images. If you're using a digital camera , take a look at the histogram using the preview mode of your camera to ascertain the exposure is ideal. If there's an abundance of snow, this curve will be higher near the histogram's left edge. If the curve is centered more, then any snow will appear too dark; adjust your exposure accordingly.


New Article Oct 25, 2011

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