Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/01/23

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Ted's advice on sports pictures (snowboarding)
From: (Ted Grant)
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 21:16:13 -0800

Robert Stevens wrote:

>Since you are a man from the Province that created Canada's Gold Medal
>winner in snowboading and weed controversy, I thought you may have some
>tips on shooting snowboarding and avoiding second hand smoke ;-)

Hi Robert,

I'm glad it wasn't the other way around and asking for advice on the "weed!" :)

But I never inhaled! :)............ Well at least never on a snow board! :)

OK lets get serious.

I'd use 400mm rather than short and a location where they are going to get
airborn, the higher the better and for that crowd, higher is higher in the
air in this case, not mind blown.:)

I'd have the 105-280 on the R8 with the winder. But I bet you'll be ready
to throw it down the hill before the day is out because the winder isn't
the motor and this sport cries for motor winding ability.  With the winder,
you have to completely concentrate on the action as though you were
shooting one frame and then hand advancing, not like the motor where you
fire the exact one you want, then let the motor carry on in the follow

You might try some "swishy Pans" as I call them. That is panning with
athlete using a slow shutter speed to create a blurring effect of the
background as they blow by. Given how fast the boarder goes, I'd sart
shooting at 125th as the highest speed and go slower from there, but not
likely slower than 1/30th unless you've done lots of this before. Swishy
pans that is.  Be expected to shoot lots of film as you have no way of
knowing exactly what it will look like other than the background will be
blurred, as well as the boarder in some cases.

Airborn "swishies don't work"  as you require the blurr of the background
for the effect. Shoot them as they go by across your front. And don't
forget to follow through like swinging a golf club or baseball bat.

Obviously the 400mm is on the R6 with motor. I wouldn't get loaded down
with too much gear as climbing the hill will kill you, no matter how good a
shape one is in. Unless you are going to be shooting tight heads and faces
at the bottom when they have finished their run.  I wouldn't carry more
than the 400, 105-280 zoom and a wide angle, the 21mm if you want some wild
distorted board shots with the designs and faces.

<<<<<I thought the wide angle set up under a jump with a remote might make
some interesting pictures.  What are your suggestions?>>>>>>>

I like the remote wide shot idea, but you need this camera where they are
doing something almost right above. The danger is some guy coming down on
it and that's a Murphies law, that if a boarder is going to fall, it's
going to be right on your gear.

And can you afford to loose it?  Never mind the Boarder, they heal and are
mainly brain damaged to start with anyway. :)

I don't know if I can give you a lead for film as it depends on what you're
going to do with it. But I'd use E100 or similar, unless the weather is the
pits and you have to go to higher asa or you push the E100 a stop or two as
it can handle a one stop push very nicely.  Or the option would be E200.

But if possible I'd stick with slower films as long as you can get the
highest possible shutter speed for the stopped action stuff. 1/500 at
least.  Even if you're using the 400mm wide open!

The swishy pans are "hand held" no matter what lens you are using as you
can't pan the lens fast enough on a tripod, maybe on a monopod, but I
prefer this type of pan action hand held and swinging my body from the
waist.  Very quickly! :)

<<<I will have full access to the hill as I was invited by the Manager of
the Ski hill. >>>>>>

That's OK, but just make sure you have some kind of outer ware markings
that show you are "official" something or other. Otherwise the course
security guys will be constantly telling you to get behind the safety

And "safety fence" brings me to another thing.  Think about a boarder doing
a crash and burn where you pick your photo position, is he going to come
flying into you, away from you?  It might be you wont have a choice, as the
safety marshalls control the course no matter whom your shooting for.

It pays to be at the event much earlier than for a track meet due to the
safety thing for yourself and competitor, hauling gear up to the location
and becoming calmed down before the races start, so that you're relaxed and
not muscle tensed from climbing the hill.

Final thing: Establish the best shooting location from someone who really
knows the hill and where the best action should be. Keep in mind:


Apart from this, good luck and keep warm!  Also if you can, have someone
helping with the gear!

Ted Grant
This is Our Work. The Legacy of Sir William Osler.