By Simon John Owen, Momentum Ski’s official photographer, and Managing Director at Wonderhatch. Photography is Simon’s business, so he knows a thing or two about taking great photos. Find these 7 tips gleaned from Simon and his experience as a professional photographer to help you take great ski holiday photos on the slopes.
After the muscle soreness goes away and the skis go back in the closet, what more do you have to remember your incredible week of skiing in the Alps? Maybe a hangover from all the incredible après ski.
How about some awesome ski holiday photos of you and your mates? It’s no secret that skiing makes for some great photos, especially to make all your friends jealous on social media.
Unless you’re a professional photographer, taking great ski holiday photos can be difficult. With cold temperatures, snowy conditions, and the constantly changing elements on the ski hill, it can affect your photography skills. But, with a few simple tricks, your ski photos will go from good to great after the first run of the day.
Arguably, the easiest way of taking a picture when you’re on the go is on your phone. It’s small enough to keep in your pocket, so you can get it out quickly when the moment hits and you feel inspired to take a photo.
Whilst phone cameras continue to improve, there is still a skill and a few simple techniques that can be used to help you get the most out of your phone. Despite built in flashes and better light sensitivity, good pics still require good light with phone cameras and light is still the most important aspect to taking a good picture with a phone.
1. Don’t Have a Light-mare.
Nothing is worse than standing in the freezing cold with a beautiful snowy mountain background behind you only to find out that your happy smile is too dark to see. Light can make or break a ski photo. The best time of day to shoot photographs is early morning or late afternoon. During these times, the sun is at a lower angle so it is less harsh and it gives off a warmer feel. Avoid taking any photos during the middle of the day when the sun is high, as it can flatten images.
If in doubt, override the auto settings and put the flash on – they are pretty puny so you are never really in danger of irreparable over exposure. With portraits it will provide a nice catch of light in the eyes or accentuate the texture of the fabric which is always a bonus. It also has the added benefit of masking unwanted grain and muddy images associated with low light.
2. Are you Shooting Into the Sun?
Sometimes this is great for a lens flare effect so popular in lifestyle imagery over the past few years but the camera’s metering system will consider the image to be too bright and will over compensate and images will tend to be too dark. Counter this by;
- Putting Flash on override.
- Put on the HDR (High Dynamic Range) option.
- If possible turn your subject around so they are not backlit and have the light source on their face (if a portrait).
3. Three’s the Magic Number!
Three’s a crowd, right? Not in photography! The Rules of Thirds is the most well-known “rule” of photographic composition that will instantly improve your ski photography. Best of all? It’s straightforward and easy to do.
The basic idea behind the theory is easy. Just imagine breaking your image down into thirds both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine blocks. If you can’t picture this on your screen, most smartphones and cameras have a grid option that you can turn on. Now, position your subject along the grid intersections or along the lines. This technique creates more balance and an impressive photo.
4. More on Formatting…
Whilst it is eminently possible to crop an image after the shot, to get the best results and maximise the resolution of the sensor, consider the format and composition of the image; will it be better in a square format, panoramic, or another mode?
Remember, panoramic mode can work well in portrait as well as landscape, especially if you find yourself before a mountain peak wondering how you are going to capture the entirety of the giant thing. If you try and do portraits in pano mode you will need a steady hand and a still subject! Finally, experiment with imaginative cropping – it can make an ordinary image special.
In the example above, with the expansive landscape, trees and mountains, a normal format would not have done it justice… Pano mode on.
5. Be Spontaneous!
As the Apple Billboards are keen to show, there are endless possibilities in respect to what you can shoot with a phone. The most compelling thing about a phone camera is that, you will most likely have it on you and therefore you will have the ability to capture those special moments on the slopes that a few years ago would have been lost.
Don’t be afraid to snap a spontaneous selfie. You’ll see loads of skiers pulling selfie sticks out of their jackets or backpacks. Don’t have a selfie stick? No problem. To take the perfect ski selfie without a selfie stick, place your iPhone or other smartphone a full arm’s length away and use the earphone volume control as a shutter release or self-timer. No need to tap the screen with those ski gloves on!
6. Be Creative!
There are many different techniques you can employ with a phone camera…
To get the effect in the above photo, you’d need to think about positioning yourself so you’re fairly low get the right angle and capture the mountain reflection in the frozen lake. To focus in on the details in the frozen lake, simply tap the screen on the foreground. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with techniques and ideas, that is the part of the joy!
7. Catch That Skier in Motion!
Skiing is a notoriously fast-paced activity. You might not think it’s possible to get an awesome action shot, as most of them just turn out blurry. Enter burst mode. You can find this setting in most smartphones. Simply hold down the shutter button and multiple photos will be taken in quick succession, 10 per second to be exact!
This means you’re way more likely to catch stunning action shots of you and your fellow ski pals shredding powder.
You Tell Us
So it goes to show that the old photographic principles still apply whatever you are shooting with; light, composition and creativity. Adjust your perceptions and have some fun with your phone, it’s an amazing tool…
Now that we’ve provided you with seven tips to taking great ski photos, it’s time for you to give us suggestions. Show us your epic ski photos in the comments and tell us how you took that awesome shot!
If you’re feeling inspired to head to the Alps and get some incredible ski holiday photos of your own, get in touch today and we can put your plans into action. If you’re not quite ready to book a holiday, sign up to our free email course to learn everything you need to know about booking a short ski break.