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|| News Item: Posted 2007-12-17

In The Bag: Or In This Case On My Back
By Mike Blake, Reuters News Pictures

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

This is what Mike Blake takes to shoot skiing.
There are no camera bags or rollers to be found on the side of a mountain. Every photographer you see covering ski racing will have a backpack.

So after a recent couple of weeks covering the opening of the World Cup ski season in the Great White North that is Banff National Park; arguably one of the most beautiful places on the planet (except for the -31c working temperatures) I give you .. What's in my bag.

I go light … I'm old …

* Canon Mark III 1.12 firmware (not a fan of 1.13)
* Extra battery (kept inside my jacket)
* A few disks
* 600m F 4
* 1.4 extender
* 70-200mm f/2.8
* 14 f/2.8
* Pocket Wizard radio remotes
* Small tripod
* Gloves
* Toe and hand warmers
* Crampons
* Timer
* Chocolate (There is no chocolate in the picture , we ate it all!)

Safety has become huge issue on the World Cup, so long glass is a must.

The Mark III (54# of the line) worked very well. The issue with the camera being soft on the first frame can be solved by putting the focus speed to FAST, worked for skiing on the turns) however I would not recommend setting it that way for your next hockey game. Some action you can get away with auto focus, other shots you have to zone focus because they are going very fast and there is no way of seeing them coming.

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Training for the first Women's World Cup Downhill of the season November 29, 2007 in Lake Louise, Alberta.
The tripod and Pocket Wizards are there for setting up a remote, from behind … it's very hit and miss and if it's above -10, and you have the gumption to set one up, it makes for a different frame .

The radio is to talk to other photographers on the hill. We used to chat more… now we just eat chocolate and complain about how cold it is. In the days of film I would radio our guy down at the finish line and grab his film as I skied in with my action (he would have to stay till the end of the race and do the podium stuff)…. We just shoot the top 30-40 races and get out, The races are held during prime time TV in Europe and deadlines are tight.

I've always thought of shooting downhill skiing as one of the hardest sports to shoot. There are so many things going against you from the weather to the ability of just skiing to where you need to be with 50 lbs of gear on your back and arriving in one piece. Knowing where to go on a 2 miles long course and staying warm enough to function when the races start to fly past you at 120k .

With the technology of the gear we use today there are not many sports where you can "come up completely empty", but downhill skiing is still at the top of the list.

(Mike Blake is a staff photographer with Reuters.)

Related Links:
Blake's member page

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