The art of capturing the best ski holiday photos

10 top ski photography tips for fantastic pics on the pistes

Whether you have a simple point and shoot camera or a complex DSLR, there are a few golden rules to shooting on the slopes. So grab your camera (or even your mobile phone), set up your subject and get ready to shoot some serious ski action.

1. Cold climate protection

Modern cameras are usually well protected against the cold, but there are still a few things you can do to prevent moisture damage. If it’s snowing make sure your camera and lenses are covered up or in a waterproof bag. Try not to keep your camera too warm as whipping it out for that once-in-a-lifetime shot will cause condensation on the lens, giving you a foggy image. Camera batteries also lose their charge in cold conditions, so keep any spare batteries inside your jacket.

2. Beware of exposure

It’s not just exposure to the elements that winter sports photographers have to worry about. The brightness of the snow presents a number of challenges for auto modes, under-exposing the image and giving your landscapes a grey tint. If your camera has scene modes, choose the ‘snow’ or ‘snow/beach’ setting to bring the snow back to a dazzling white.

3. Change the angle

Whether you’re snapping a group of friends in the après-ski bar or a snowboarder in mid-flight, changing the angle can completely transform your ski photography. Try going low when capturing the action on the slopes, or even tilting the camera to give you another angle. By adding an element of intrigue to your pictures, you’ll keep the attention of your viewers for longer.

4. Action mode

If your camera has a sport mode, use it. It will give you a faster shutter speed to help you capture the action on the slopes and prevent blur. If you have a DSLR, set it to manual mode to control your own shutter speed. Start with a setting of 1/1000 of a second and adjust as required.

5. Get close

One of the most common problems for the keen ski snapper is producing shots where the subject is a distant speck on the horizon surrounded by white. Better to get closer to the action and take a few moments to plan your shot. What will the skier or boarder be doing? What piece of action do you actually want to photograph? What’s the best position for you to be in to get the ideal image? Decide what you want then try it a few times to get the best shot.

6. Watch the sun

The best time of day for photography is first thing in the morning, but if you don’t fancy an early rise, work out exactly where the sun is because it can severely affect the quality of your image. If it’s directly in front of you the image will be over-exposed and your subject will be too dark; behind you and the snow will lose definition. It’s best to shoot with the sun at your side, which will reveal the textures of the snow from the shadows cast across them. If you can, try to shoot in the ‘golden hour’ – just as the sun is going down – when the light is much warmer and softer.

7. Using a GoPro on the slopes

More and more skiers are using small video cameras such as the GoPro to capture every moment of their descent. Whether mounted on the helmet, the chest or the skis, make sure it’s securely fastened, especially if you’re on a challenging slope. Also, make sure it’s in a waterproof case – even on the back of a ski it will get covered in snow – and pack a spare battery or two.

“A big trend in ski video right now is the centriphone. This technique involves attaching the GoPro to a long piece of twine and twirling it around yourself as you descend. The results are spectacular and hypnotic”, says Jenn, a Club Med Ski Travel Expert. The best GoPro for skiing is either the Hero5 (from around £200) or the Hero6 (around £400) which are both waterproof with a 4K Ultra HD spec.

8. Timing is everything

By its very nature, skiing is a quick activity, so you’ll need to anticipate the best moment of a descent to capture it. If your camera allows it, try taking a few shots in rapid succession, then choose the best of the series. The face of a satisfied skier after a successful descent is another memorable moment, so set yourself up at the bottom of a run to capture their sense of exhilaration.

9. Declutter your background

Nothing ruins a fantastic shot like a cluttered background, with ski lifts, boundary tape and even crowds of people taking the focus away from your subject. So pay attention to what’s in the background and change your angle, or wait a few seconds to make it less busy. Also, check your horizon is level, and if all you can see is a slope, tilt the camera slightly to make it look steeper.

10. Warm your camera up slowly

Finally, take care not to take your camera out of its bag and open it up to extract the memory card as soon as you’re back indoors. The cold temperature of the camera will cause condensation to form immediately, and could do irreparable damage to your equipment. Allow the camera to warm up slowly, either by leaving it in its bag or putting it in a cool part of the room.

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