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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Has anyone photographed ski jumping before?
Jenn March, Student/Intern, Photographer
Rochester | NY | | Posted: 11:20 AM on 02.02.15
->> Hi everyone, my name is Jenn and in two weeks, I will embark for Brattleboro, Vermont to shoot the Harris Hill Ski jump. I've never covered or shot ski jumping before, so I was wondering if anyone would be able to present me with tips.

Thanks.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 1:22 PM on 02.02.15
->> I did qualifying and Olympic jumping for the 2002 Winter Games. How long is your glass? Depending on where you're stationed and have access to it can range from 14mm to 600mm with everything in-between.

There's the top of the run behind the skiers as they position themselves (short-medium lens) to them flying in the air with the landing zone in background (medium tele to long). You can put a remote at the end of the ramp using a 14mm as they take off. From the side shooting them in mid-air it can be an 80-200mm zoom to a 300mm depending on how far back your are. If you're at the bottom of the hill looking up you'll need 400mm to 600mm glass or longer depending on the distance. When they land that can be an 80-200mm zoom or a 300mm depending on where the organizers stick you.

In other words, you need to take everything with you and once you are onsite to see where the shooting positions are you can figure out what you need and what can stay in the hotel room or car.

As to shooting style, that can range from 1/4000 shutter speed down to 1/30th or slower if you want to do some side panning shots which can be great. With the panning though you are dealing with not just left-right movement but the skier also dropping in height. So it is not that easy.

Plan on making the most of practices to see what works best for you and keep in mind where the sun is. It will be in a different position for the competition versus practice. And watch your backgrounds as compared to the skiers' uniforms -- ie. white uniform with a white background.
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Lukasz Laskowski, Photographer
Katowice | Poland | Poland | Posted: 1:26 PM on 02.02.15
->> Hi Jenn, I photographed few ski jumping events: http://bit.ly/1uRmSix
Tips? Wear good boots and gloves and prepare for a good walk up the hill :) Oh and take a soft piece of cloth to clear your lens from snow or rain
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Jenn March, Student/Intern, Photographer
Rochester | NY | | Posted: 1:57 PM on 02.02.15
->> Thanks to both of you; you have very helpful tips. To Doug: When you say "practices," do you mean when the skiers are practicing before the event(s)? Would you have any idea how to find out when the skiers are practicing?
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Lukasz Laskowski, Photographer
Katowice | Poland | Poland | Posted: 2:19 PM on 02.02.15
->> Day before there might be a qualifying round (one or two). And there is also a practice round before every competition. It is usualy few hours before start of two main rounds.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 3:54 PM on 02.02.15
->> Jenn...

The skiers practice before the actual competition to warm up and see how the conditions are (fast, slow, icey, windy, etc.) There are also sometimes practice times the day before the competition. Contact the organizer. They should have a daily schedule of events.

Are you covering the event for a publication or agency where you have to have THE picture? Or are you doing a general story on a particular skier or group where comp photos aren't mandated? You can do "art" type pix during the practices and warm ups.

The competition is made up of two jumps. Be on the mountain for the first jump for 3/4 front and side views with a medium-long zoom, then hurry down to the finish line for the second jump where you get the long lens aerial shots shooting up the hill and the jubilation at the bottom.

The first jump is usually done by a draw to determine order. The second jump is reverse order of worst to best which means the top skiers will be going last. So if you miss the first couple jumps when coming off the hill it shouldn't matter because they don't have much of a chance to finish in the top three. The top ranked skier wears a yellow bib.

For the finish area, you'll get the best jubilation if you stand under or next to the scoreboard because that is where the athletes will be looking as they come to a sliding stop. By being next to the results you're practically guaranteed to see the smiles and frowns aimed right at your lens.

The medals ceremony is afterwards in the middle of the finish area where they bring in a backdrop and 3-step podium. If you're doing that too, find out from an official exactly where they plan on putting the stand before the competition starts and then get in place immediately after the last jumper to be up front and center. If you aren't ready to move and be in place before the podium is placed you'll find yourself behind all the other photographers. And have a flash as it will most likely be backlit. You'll need the strobe to add sparkle to your imagery.
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Ben Mackey, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbia | MD | USA | Posted: 7:59 PM on 02.02.15
->> Jenn,

Ditto everything Doug said. Looking at maps/aerial photos on-line it looks skiers jump almost due east. If it is an afternoon event, you'll be shooting into the sun if you are at the base of the hill. It also looks like there isn't much clearance between the trees on both sides of the jump so getting anything of the jumpers before they launch will be tough. Of course, nearby trees aren't something you see in many ski jump shots so maybe you can make something out of those lemons.

Don't expect to get a sharp shot of the jumper if you aren't panning, it won't work. Track the jumper and shoot through the "play."

If this is a weekend event, can you be there Friday to scope things out? Do you have the iPhone/Android app Sun Seeker? That will let you know where the sun will be in the sky as the day progresses. Of course, you won't need that if the weather is cloudy. Look around for coaches or media stands and ask if you can shoot from those stands (or at least see what the view looks like to get a feel for the venue). Another thing to ask about on Friday is will there be a crowd? If yes, where will spectators be and where can you go (and not go). If parents or other fans are there, will they be able to interact with the jumpers between jumps or after the awards ceremony?

Oh yeah, remember to have fun.
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Jenn March, Student/Intern, Photographer
Rochester | NY | | Posted: 6:44 PM on 02.03.15
->> Thank you so much to all of you. I will be sure to review your tips before I go out to shoot. As for Friday, seeing as it will be ideal for me to scope things out then, I'll see what I can do. But unfortunately, I'm a student and I'm doing this strictly for my portfolio, so I don't really have the money to grab a hotel and optimize my time. At the very least, I can always check when the skiers do their practice runs.

Thanks again!

PS: I always have fun!
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 8:16 PM on 02.03.15
->> Jenn...

Being a student, if you don't have access to long glass do NOT try to emulate it with teleconvertors or crops resulting in huge blow ups.

Since it is for your portfolio you have the distinct advantage over covering the event like newspaper and wire photographers -- you can pick and choose your imagery. You don't have to get THE shot of the winner; you can go for any shot that will be THE image in your portfolio. This allows you much greater leeway and freedom in how and what you shoot because you don't have the pressure to perform for an editor who only wants a shot versus the shot.

Choose your background and keep a very careful watch on the lighting. Don't hang with the other photographers who need the meat and potatoes type imagery to fill newspaper holes and galleries. Use your creativeness. Find an angle or scene that nobody else has. Make your imagery unique. And you'll come up with pictures that others wish they had. That's the key to portfolio quality work.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 8:19 PM on 02.03.15
->> One more tip. Since you don't have to get the winners, keep in mind that a lower ranked skier may jubilate a heck of a lot more by setting a new personal best than a top skier who finishes as he/she expects. It is those special moments of an athlete's accomplishment that can provide you with a far better picture than the winner.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 8:23 PM on 02.03.15
->> This has been proven to me time after time over decades when covering World Cup and Olympic events. The reactions and big smiles of an athlete setting a new personal record nearly always beats out the top athlete doing what he/she is expected to do by winning -- unless that win is a new world record.
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Thread Title: Has anyone photographed ski jumping before?
Thread Started By: Jenn March
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