The things we do…the places we go…

Skier Drew Stoecklein skinning through old growth forest in the Trinity Alps, CA.

The things we do…the places we go…

Is that not what this whole photography thing is all about??? The first memory I have of picking up a camera for any purpose beyond simply documenting what was occurring in front of me was to simply share with others. Share the beauty. Share the wonder. Share the ridiculous. Share the inspiring. Share something that made someone say “wow”. Share something that made someone want to go and explore their backyard, go adventuring and lose t

hemselves in that to which they are impassioned.

While some things have changed about my approach to photography, one thing remains constant–and that is my desire to share with others that which I see. I am fortunate to see crazy cool stuff in unbelievable locations all over the world. I count myself lucky each and every day.

This image reminded me of that this morning. Shot deep in the Trinity Alps of northern California, this locale felt like something out of a fairy tale. Skinning through old growth forests plastered with moss and lichen–so cool!

A telephoto lens was key in compressing the scene, enhancing the layers of forest, and filling the frame with color and texture. Understand your equipment, and how it can help you maximize each location and each shooting opportunity. Know what you want, and have the technical backing to go out and get it. Finally, share! Share your work. Share your vision. Inspire and be inspired!

Focusing Fast Action (Contest Post!)

For you antsy folks, there is a contest at the bottom, but you’ll have to have read the post to have a fighting chance!

Image 1: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 1: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Earlier this week we were blessed with a bounty of blower (read: ridiculously light Utah powder) here in the Wasatch. It was the first day of shooting skiing for me this season, and it did not disappoint. There are some days where most everything goes right, and this just happened to be one of those days.

Image 2: Jen Hudak skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 2: Jen Hudak skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Anyone that has ever attempted to shoot fast and unpredictable action knows well the challenges of coming away with a sharp image. It’s hard enough to frame it up exactly as you’d like, let alone focus. Any athlete that has ever shot with me knows my typical response when I see something I like on my camera LCD display–”that will be killer if it’s sharp”. IF IT’S SHARP….

Nowadays, the auto focus systems on pro (and even some prosumer) cameras are so advanced that it’s tough to screw things up. That said, it still happens, and it always seems to happen to the shot or frame that you wanted the most. There are a few things we can do as photographers to nail the shot every time. When shooting skiing, there are essentially two techniques I use to focus. I will use a focus tracking method where I’m utilizing the auto focus in my camera throughout the image sequence and at other times I may pre-focus on a specific spot where I’ve directed the athlete to go. Both techniques work well in certain situations–some better than others.

Carlo Travarelli skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 3: Carlo Travarelli skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Focus Tracking

Focus tracking works well when:

a) the athlete is moving towards or away from you at a rapid pace

b) you’re not sure where the climactic action will occur OR there are a number of images throughout the action sequence that you may want as keepers

c) there could be confusion between you and the athlete as to where exactly it is you’d like them to turn, air, etc.

d) generally speaking, the athlete will not remain parallel to the focal plane throughout the sequence

*Note: As a Canon shooter, I focus with my AF-On button instead of my shutter button. This allows the camera to continue micro-adjusting focus as the shutter clicks away.

*Note #2: It is best to manually select a focus zone in your camera. Place that focus zone over the part of the athlete you’d like in focus (most often the face). I typically start “tracking” focus about two seconds or so before I start clicking the shutter.

Image 4: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 4: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Pre Focus

Pre focus works well when:

a) you have a specific, mutually understood spot (between you and the athlete) where the climactic action will occur

b) the athlete is maintaining approximate equal distance from the focal plane throughout the action sequence

c) you’re shooting at infinity focus–in particular, this pertains to long lens, big line shots where the athlete is a great distance away OR wide angle shots where you’re shooting at infinity

d) there may be anything present (obstacles, weird lighting, atmospheric conditions) that would confuse your auto focus (there are ways to tweak your AF system so it doesn’t get thrown off as easily with things like this)

* Note that pre-focusing requires precise explanation and understanding on the part of the photographer and athlete as to where the action should occur. Generally speaking, the longer you have worked with an athlete, the better you will understand each other, and the more confident you will feel that the athlete can nail the spot on which you’ve pre-focused. Additionally, it’s wise to use larger apertures when possible, thus giving yourself and the athlete a margin for error across the focal plane if for some reason they are a bit closer or further away than the spot you mentioned.

Image 5: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 5: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

So. Contest time. I’ve included images throughout this post from shooting at Alta Ski Area on New Year’s Eve Day. I have a super cool Clik Elite medium lens pouch (great for wide angle zooms or moderate primes) and t-shirt for the first person that can correctly state which focusing technique was used on each image in this post. The contest will end on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Good luck!

Image 6: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 6: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

AdamBarkerPhotography 2 for 1 Ski Poster Sale

Starting today thru Nov. 6,  get a screaming deal on the AdamBarkerPhotography limited edition ski poster. This is a gorgeous contemporary black and white poster, printed on the highest quality paper in a size (20 x 30) that looks great framed or loose. This is also the same poster that raised nearly $3,000.00 for the family of fallen skier Shane McConkey through the donations of generous skiers everywhere. Get two ski posters for the price of one at just $31.95. These posters are the perfect Christmas gift for that skier or action photo enthusiast, so don’t miss out! Posters will ship in the same tube to one address. Orders outside of the United States may be required to pay additional shipping fees. To order, paypal $31.95 to adam@adambarkerphotography.com and write 2 for 1 poster in the comments box.

LCC-Poster

Recent Published Images

I am uber, super, ridiculously stoked to have landed the cover of the October issue of Skiing magazine. Huge props to Brant Moles for still getting it done after all these years. Brant crushes it in front of the lens. I’m also pleased to have two full page images published in a new magazine called Mountain Sports & Living. Super nice publication from a crew that knows their stuff. Look for it in a mountain town near you.

Published image from AdamBarkerPhotography on the October Cover of Skiing Magazine

Published image from AdamBarkerPhotography on the October Cover of Skiing Magazine

Published image from AdamBarkerPhotography in early winter issue of Mountain Sports & Living magazine

Published image from AdamBarkerPhotography in early winter issue of Mountain Sports & Living magazine

Published image from AdamBarkerPhotography in early winter issue of Mountain Sports & Living magazine

Published image from AdamBarkerPhotography in early winter issue of Mountain Sports & Living magazine