Photographying winter sports

Igal-K

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Hello,
Hopefully this is the right place to post this question. If not - my apologies, I'm new here :)

In about a week the company I work for is taking all the employees to do ski in Greece. Personally I don't ski, but I thought it might be a good opportunity to try and take some ski action photos. So I'll need all the tips I can get about what gear I should use (the list of my gear will follow), what settings are recommended for this kind of photography (Manual mode or shutter priority? Auto white balance or other? AF-S or AF-C etc...) ?

Here's the gear I have:
  • Nikon D7000
  • Nikkor 18-105 kit lens
    Polarizing filter
    UV filter
  • Nikkor 50 1.8
    Hoya skylight 1B filter
  • Tamron 70-300 4-5.6
    No filters, but perhaps can pick up if needed
  • Yongnuo Speedlite yn568ex
Obviously I don't want to carry all the gear with me, so what would you recommend?

Any tip and advice is much appreciated!

Thanks!
 

tirediron

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My choice would be the 70-300 & polarizing filter. You will want a little distance between yourself and the skiers, but I would also bring the 18-105 for group & close-up shots. I would shoot this in shutter priority, 1/1000 sec and boost ISO if necessary to get at least f5.6. Focus in continuous-servo (C) mode, and EC set to 1.5 stops over.
 

table1349

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I am going to offer a different opinion since Sports are my main focus. I agree with Iron's choice of lenses and the reasons for them. I would however suggest that you shoot in aperture priority instead of shutter priority for the following reasons.

A good sports shot is about highlighting the action. One of the best ways to make action pop is to separate it from its surroundings. Sunlight mountain in higher elevations during the day means an abundance of light. Even cloudy days usually are quite bright. In aperture priority you shoot as wide open as possible while still maintaining the necessary DOF to capture only the action. Skiers/snowboarders are fast so that 1/1oooth minimum shutter speed is not hard to achieve. In fact, in aperture priority you may find you are shooting at 1/2000th or 1/4000th. No big deal. You use you ISO to keep you shutter speed at or above 1/1000th.

In shutter priority at 1/1oooth you may end up with an aperture of 5.6, 8, 11 or even higher depending on the brightness of the day. At those high apertures you loose your separation between the action and the surroundings. What people forget is that on a sunny or even mildly cloudy day the snow is one giant light reflector.

Just my .02 cents on the subject.
 
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Igal-K

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Thank you both very much for your inputs!
Do you have any suggestions about white balance? I do want my snow to be white, not bluish or grayish :)
 

table1349

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I generally do a custom white balance at every location. I carry this fold up target.
 

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Thank you both very much for your inputs!
Do you have any suggestions about white balance? I do want my snow to be white, not bluish or grayish :)
Greece has mountains and snow? I did not know that.

Your WB should be set to "daylight" or if you're using your flash, then "flash". Plan on using the speedlight even in full sun to fill in people's faces. Have your flash set to "fill", and try to get it off camera somehow. If there is someone else who is not skiing, have him hold your flash and point it toward your subject(s). I didn't see a RF transceiver set listed, so that might be a good investment for the trip. If nobody will hold your flash for you, take along a small cheap tripod to hold the flash. You might be able to lighten shadows with a portable reflector, but if there's any wind, someone will have to hold onto it.

About the only place I can see you using the 50 is in a restaurant or lounge in the evening.
 

table1349

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Thank you both very much for your inputs!
Do you have any suggestions about white balance? I do want my snow to be white, not bluish or grayish :)
Greece has mountains and snow? I did not know that.

Your WB should be set to "daylight" or if you're using your flash, then "flash". Plan on using the speedlight even in full sun to fill in people's faces. Have your flash set to "fill", and try to get it off camera somehow. If there is someone else who is not skiing, have him hold your flash and point it toward your subject(s). I didn't see a RF transceiver set listed, so that might be a good investment for the trip. If nobody will hold your flash for you, take along a small cheap tripod to hold the flash. You might be able to lighten shadows with a portable reflector, but if there's any wind, someone will have to hold onto it.

About the only place I can see you using the 50 is in a restaurant or lounge in the evening.
Where and How to Ski in Greece
 
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Igal-K

Igal-K

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Greece has mountains and snow? I did not know that.

Your WB should be set to "daylight" or if you're using your flash, then "flash". Plan on using the speedlight even in full sun to fill in people's faces. Have your flash set to "fill", and try to get it off camera somehow. If there is someone else who is not skiing, have him hold your flash and point it toward your subject(s). I didn't see a RF transceiver set listed, so that might be a good investment for the trip. If nobody will hold your flash for you, take along a small cheap tripod to hold the flash. You might be able to lighten shadows with a portable reflector, but if there's any wind, someone will have to hold onto it.

About the only place I can see you using the 50 is in a restaurant or lounge in the evening.

Of course they do! Mount Olympus, for example... ;)

Regarding the RF transceiver, I actually do have it. I'm just not sure I'll be able to use it in these conditions. Don't think anybody would accompany me for the shooting, and I'm not sure I'll be standing close enough to the skiers. I will still take it, just in case.
My reflectors are just too big to carry abroad. I'll consider the tripod advise though.

Thank you very much for your input!
 
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Igal-K

Igal-K

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I generally do a custom white balance at every location. I carry this fold up target.

Thank you very much!
Ordered myself the gray fold, should be getting it tomorrow, just a few hours before departure. :)
 

ronlane

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Another sports shooter here and I would like to add to the advice you've received.

First thing is if you are wanting to freeze the action, depending on the speed of the skier, 1/1000th of a second still may not be fast enough. This is something that you'll have to just get a feel for.

The second thing that I would offer as a suggestion would be to actually make the speed work for you. What I mean is use shutter priority and slow down your shutter speed and use the panning technique to make some of the skiers sharp but have the blurred background to convey motion.

I would try using all of these techniques mentioned to give you a variety of images and tell the story in multiple ways.

Sounds like a fun (but cold) time.
 

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