Turning adversity into opportunity

On Friday, the weather packed in and was fully overcast. The Ski Cross event at the winter games was the main event, it looked like it it was going to be a dull day indeed. When I got to the media center, one of the German reporters casually mentioned the snowboarders were having a training session on the half pipe. Even though it was terrible light, I sensed an opportunity.

I’d brought lighting gear to enable portrait shooting and grabbed some of that kit to hike with me up the mountain. With a setup inspired by National Geographic photographer Joe McNally I made a lighting tree with my SB900 and SB800 strobes, each powered with an external battery pack. This I attached to a multi adaptor I bought from the trip from an Auckland camera supplier online. Essentially, I doubled up the lighting power from one light stand. This was all secured to the slopes to my camera bag to stop it blowing away in the high winds or sliding down the steep slope.

Adding a little light enabled getting a pop during the grey morning light, World Cup Snowboard Half Pipe, Winter Games, Cadrona Ski Field, Friday August 26, 2011.

The good news was that as the morning rolled on, the light did improve and for the afternoon ski cross – it was game on again! The ski cross event is hard to shoot, but when a good spot is found there is plenty of action.

Scot KNELLER (Australia) winner, followed by Anton GRIMUS (Australia) finals of the Ski Cross, Winter Games, Cadrona Ski Field, Friday August 26, 2011. Photo: Mark Tantrum

This spot was where the Press photographer Tim Clayton and Getty Images photographer Hannah Johnson had also setup during the course of the event. I of course decided to stop by and see what “all the fuss was about.” With a longer 300mm lens, I was able to get this shot which I think speaks of the speed and excitement of the event.

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