There wasn’t much snow during the 2010/2011 winter season in Europe, while USA and Canada had continuous breaking records snow dumps.
We had to deal with the fact we had no snow and still produce shots. It pushed us, photographers and athletes to be creative.
We talked with Tignes skier Flo Bastien of all the possibilities we had left to shoot « something ». I talked of the par-avalanche above the Tignes Le Lac road to Le Val Claret, but this spot has been photographed so much in the past, it was hard to come with something new.
A shot i took from the same spot in 2008 with Freeride World Champion Guerlain Chicherit
We decided to shoot it like never before, putting the viewpoint high up on the middle of the jump, and lighting the whole scene with flashes. With colored Gels on the flashes to match the color of the skis and Flo B hoody.
The spot how it looked like shortly after we arrived with Flo B
Technically it was a big challenge.
First for Flo B, who had to do a clean grab 360 jump on a 7 meters drop, landing on a snow way too hard for our taste.
On the shooting side, i had to trigger at the exact right time (you only got one shot when using flashes, you can’t burst a sequence) from the ground guessing the angle my fisheye lens was seeing 6 meters higher on top of a giant tripod.
On the first attempt Flo did a straight air to judge the speed he needed. The landing was definitely harder that what we hoped thus we knew we had to get it right quick because there wouldn’t be too many attempts.
Flo B first jump, a straight air to judge the speed needed
On the Flash side i used 2 flashes to freeze Flo B in the air, and 6 other gelled flashes to light the scene. Everything had to trigger at the same time. Trust me, when you’re shooting on the snow its not a given, you often have to fight it to get everything firing together and at the right power levels. I had to walk the spot a few times up and down to get everything right.
it took us a couple of hours to install the setup, shape the jump and position the flashes. This and Flo first jump had attracted the interest of a few persons that stopped their car and came watching. I asked them to park their car underneath the par-avalanche to give a feeling of scale, and realize how big the drop was.
Flo B was not happy with the way his grab looked on the second jump so he walked back up.
We nailed the shot on the 3rd attempt.
It took us several hours of work to produce this single picture. That’s one of the beauties of shooting Urban Free Skiing.
Manny thanks for reading,
The Tech corner: 31/01/2011, Tignes, France. Canon 7D + Tokina 10-17 Fisheye@10mm. 1/640 f6.3 iso 200.
Strobist info: an elinchrom ranger RX A head camera left on top of the par-avalanche aimed at Flo. 2 Nikon SB80 with red gels pointed on the take off. 4 Nikon SB80 at the right of the landing with green gels, to light the landing and underneath the paravalanche. Another Ranger RX A head on the right of the landing aimed at Flo.
8 flashes in total, triggered with pocket wizards TT5 and Plus II