Whether you prefer to shoot stills, or capture moving images on your GoPro as you ski or snowboard, you’ll need to know a few tricks to get the best result.
Undoubtedly one of the most important considerations when shooting winter sports is the light, or more precisely lack of it. Unlike the summer months when you can shoot for most of the day, during the winter there are only a few hours available before the light fades completely. So it’s important to get up and out as early as possible to maximise photographic time.
Photographic opportunities may be limited due to adverse weather conditions, such as a ‘white out’ where you can’t see more than a few metres in front of your face. Bright white snow can play havoc with your camera’s built-in metering system too. It can expose the background correctly but causes the subject you are photographing (skier/snowboarder) to appear underexposed.
It’s a good idea to use your camera’s manual controls to adjust the exposure between +1 stop and +3 stops before you start shooting. As there is an increased amount of UV light in winter weather conditions, images and video can have a slightly blue tinge. To protect against this, install a UV filter on the lens to ensure the images are a little more neutral in tone.
It’s not just the light that can affect photographing winter sports. Weather conditions play a big part too. Batteries, which are always a bugbear of any videographer, can – just like a car battery – die much more quickly in cold weather. A good idea is to put them inside a hand-warmer or failing that, a warm inside jacket pocket. Just to be sure, take plenty of fully charged spares with you.
Protect your gear from the elements. Place camera gear inside large, sealable plastic bags on winter shoots to prevent moisture forming inside the lenses when you move from a cold environment back into the warmth.
If you are filming with an action camera, you need to consider how it can be mounted securely, perhaps on top of a helmet, across your chest or on your shoulder. It’s often best to do a couple of trial runs to check the best position for the results you want to achieve.
If you’re heading out to take photos during the last weeks of Autumn here are some tips to getting the best shots.