jrush_photo
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shaunmillar April 02, 2016
Stunning photo, well done.

Cold Smoke



When the air is cold, what latent moisture that exists turns to crystal. Floating crystals in the air, accumulated crystals on the ground. Vail, CO, Skier- Eric...
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When the air is cold, what latent moisture that exists turns to crystal. Floating crystals in the air, accumulated crystals on the ground. Vail, CO, Skier- Eric. B

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+5
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+4
Outstanding Creativity
Absolute Masterpiece
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All Star

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Behind The Lens

Location
This image was created in the back bowls of Vail ski resort, in Colorado. Considered an "on-piste" ski run, this line in particular doesn't get skied that frequently, especially early in the day. It helps that you have to duck a rope or jump off a 30 foot cliff to get to it.
Time
We shot this early in the morning, around 9:30 am. You can see in the image the snow crystals flying through the air. It was literally so cold (10F degrees) that any moisture froze instantly and floated lightly around us.
Lighting
Sure. So in this instance, the partly cloudy conditions and subtle saturation of snow crystals acted to diffuse the light fairly evenly throughout the frame. As you can see, there really isn't a lot of contrast in this image.
Equipment
I use a Nikon D800 and shot this with the Nikkor 24-70 2.8 lens. The 800 shoots upwards of 5 frames per second, not super fast, but fast enough to capture a good sequence. I tend to shoot single shots, timing the shutter release, versus the rapid fire of other sport photographers. The fast aperture of the 2.8 lens allows for quick shutter speeds and great depth of field.
Inspiration
Great snowfall? Check. Great athletes? Check. Beautiful scenery? Again, check. Living in the mountains and photographing athletes in all conditions depends heavily on one factor: getting up in the morning. You never know what conditions will be like until you're there. Often, your best guess is dead wrong.
Editing
Minimal but, always a little something. The biggest crux was shooting a well-balanced image in-camera. This allowed me to bring out some of the ground level snow detail in post. I'd prefer to underexpose and bring out details than overexpose and lose that ability.
In my camera bag
I always have my Nikon D800, a 24-70 2.8 lens, interchangeable between a 70-200 2.8 or a 10-24 2.8 depending on where I'm going. I also always carry a back up camera body, at least two extra, fully charged batteries, a spare memory card, a lens cloth and a blower. I keep a 1x and 2x ND filter on hand just in case, but rarely use either.
Feedback
Well, shutter speed is paramount. The difficulty is shooting with a deep enough aperture (f5.6 to f8) to nail focus and detail while still getting as close to 1/1000th as you can to freeze the action. Having good ISO (ASA) range is essential, and that's why a lot of top photogs rely on the more expensive camera bodies, as well as fast glass. Your ISO can get you in the sweet spot once you nail down the other settings. For this reason always shoot manual. I fail miserably when I rely on auto settings. Conversely, experiment with what what brings you the most success in terms of auto focus settings. For skiers and snowboarders, I use 3D so that the focal plane is constantly adjusting as the subject gets closer to me.

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