The Ride Before the Last

|| Just before the first snow fell in Park City I set out for a ride on Glenwild. Long DH shorts, tall socks, a touch of snow and some mud were the order of the day. A day later we were racing the storm down this very same trail, watching it drop snow in the mountains just West. The small amount of snow seeped into the well-worn trails making everything nice and sticky, so much so that you would lean into turns past the point-of-no-return without fear. Last ride of the season and the best ride of the season, a new reason to live in Utah. ||


|| A late-season visit to Moab, Utah yielded some muddy mountain biking and a seriously impressive view. Overnight the temperature dropped rapidly and moisture moved across the desert causing an unusual amount of snow. The snow was deep enough to drag against the bottom of my truck, and it closed down our planned ride of the Porcupine Rim trail. Until the Spring, we wait. ||

One Chilly, Little Porcupine

|| 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. ||

Return to the White Room

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.

Snow-capped mountains beside the road in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Snow swirls around me as I ski deep powder at Solitude Mountain Resort

A POV angle of skis breaking through fresh powder at Solitude Mountain Resort

The Effect

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.

Chunks of snow fly in the air as I ski through deep powder in Utah

Skiing through the trees in deep powder at Solitude Resort

Tree skiing at Solitude Resort on a powder day

Sitting on the lift and giving a thumbs up on a deep powder day at Solitude

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.


Truck to Truckee

|| 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. ||


|| 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. ||