|| Although it rained lower in the desert in Moab, at elevation it snowed. Early one morning we ventured down a long dirt road that wound into the mountains. Almost everything was covered by eight to ten inches of snow, and I spotted this little guy sticking out beside the road. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to research the type of vegetation, it stood out to me in a funny way … like a tiny green porcupine caught sleeping while it snowed. Fun times in the desert. ||
Last season I became somewhat obsessed with shooting POV (point of view) shots with my Canon 5D MkII SLR camera and a chest harness. For about 10 or 11 days throughout the season I skiied with this rig, slowly dialing the look that I wanted. Almost all my time was spent at Solitude Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon here in Utah, and on many of the days I skiied alone.
Achieving an effective image from this particular angle was harder than I imagined, and to do it differently takes some serious experimentation. The easy solution would have been to strap a GoPro camera to my chest and simply run video the whole time, leaving plenty of opportunity for a frame grab or two later … but GoPros don’t have the resolution of a full-frame DSLR. Resolution is important for print, and it’s always nice to create images that could potentially live on the pages of a magazine somewhere. Small projects like this are important to personal growth in my opinion. Most of the fun came from actually being able to ski powder when I was shooting, often dragging a camera bag limits your mobility and opportunity, but in this case there was no bag, only a camera. Lastly, I found that this technique offered something that most digital photography doesn’t, uncertainty.
Experimentation Was Key
Vast experimentation with shutter speed, aperture, length of camera strap, timing on the trigger, trigger position on the finger, filters, types of light, and angle of terrain left plenty of room for error and happy accidents. Even the orientation of the camera on your chest leaves you without a clear view of the LCD until you unstrap the rig on the lift and quickly review countless frames. Many a photo is shot to perfection from a single angle, with many controlled variables. For once it was nice to leave plenty of the image to chance, and sometimes chance delivers the sweetest greatest rewards.
In the Future
I may write more in the future about my specific setup, some settings, and thoughts on this particular style of shooting. A mountain bike photographer by the name of Justin Olsen has been utilizing a similar setup in some of his images. Justin’s style seems to be more focused on freezing the moment, which is where I started my project. After capturing a number of photos I discovered that it was the motion, the blur, which added a unique look to the angle; at which point I began to intentionally introduce more and more into my photos. Like Justin said in his interview, this angle is really nothing new (Scott Markewitz and others have been using it for years). Still, I see plenty of room for experimentation.
Note: This post did live on my site last Winter for a short bit while I was working on the images. I took the post down in order to protect my ability to submit some of the images for potential publication. Now that one of the photos (from a different set, but similar look) has run, I’ve revived this post with additional comments.
|| Two panoramic-style shots, one entering our camping area and the other when we were leaving Moab. There aren’t many places on Earth where the landscape is so striking on your way in and on your way out. ||
Shot with a Canon 5d Mkii and a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L midrange-zoom.
|| Above you’ll find photographs of textures that I’ve accumulated in my recent travels. The first image shows snow on the trees in Big Cottonwood canyon after a recent, early season storm and the next photo shows the red sand of Moab, washed out after a rain storm. Rain drops sit on the fly of my tent in image three, after said rainstorm. This last image was shot with a 100mm 2.8 macro lens, the first with a 70-200mm telephoto and the middle image with a 24-70mm 2.8. Three lenses, three textures and three distinct, but contrasting looks that display the environment here in Utah. ||
|| Snow-covered peaks as seen from the highway crossing through Nevada. I was returning from shooting photos for the High Fives Foundation at their Trains even in Lake Tahoe, California when I shot this using my point-and-shoot digital camera. Solo road trips offer lots of time for thought, music, and taking in the scenery. Although there isn’t usually much to see once you hit the desert, sometime you’re afforded a view that you can’t ignore … in front of your or behind you. ||
|| Early mornings in the Wasatch Mountains can either be crowded or they can be solitary. Before the light breaks it’s not uncommon to see a parade of headlamps headed up the forks of Big Cottonwood and into Grizzly Gulch in Little Cottonwood. On this particular morning Dave Kelly and I had started from the parking lot at the mouth of Grizzly and begun our climb in the dark. As we gained the ridge I stopped for a few photos of Alta and turned around just before Dave disappeared over the peak of the skin track. Touring with Dave isn’t really touring WITH Dave, it’s more like chasing the Energizer bunny. He just goes, and goes, and goes … and goes. ||
|| Fall’s colors can be quick to fade some years, and quick to accumulate snow other years. The trees in Park City, Utah seem to hold their color longer than most, so I grabbed my camera when I heard that it was going to snow at high altitude. All it took was a little bit of exploration on some of the dirt roads in Summit Park and this little stand of trees presented itself. With a backdrop of evergreens for contrast, I couldn’t have asked for a more appealing setup. ||
|| Lynsey Dyer, Elyse Saugsted, filmer Austin Balls, and I visited Brighton after a two-day snowstorm here in Utah. Big Cottonwood canyon had already been hit hard by the powder hounds, but we managed to catch a break with the right light, a little snow flying, and a few untouched stashes. Here Lynsey hammers a turn and finds a 2% afternoon snack hiding below. This photograph, along with a few others on my site, were shot during the filming for Red Bull and Grete Eliassen’s movie Say My Name. ||