If you go down to the shops today and come across an Ellis Brigham ‘ white book’ , well , thats what this blog is about . Earlier this year I was with the Ellis Brigham team shooting ski action and fashion in Khutai Austria. It was an 8 day shoot and I had been really looking forward to it. Thats is, before I sprained my knee and had a slight tear of my L medial CL 6 weeks before going out there. So going from walking with difficulty to skiing in 6 weeks and pulling the key winter shoot for a large company like Ellis Brigham out of the bag was a challenge. I’m mostly a climber/mountaineer and dabble in things like mountain biking, kite surfing, and skiing, doing them but to a limited standard. So that limited standard in skiing isn’t going to be helped by not having a functioning L knee.
The brief of the shoot was to capture high mountain ski action with big mountain backgrounds as well as capture ski fashion . We had LEDs , smoke bombs, multiple flash units and by ‘eck we were going to use them . Even if it did mean setting of the fire alarms in one of the nearby shops and the owner coming out asking ‘wtf is going on !!’ , time for a swift get away .
Going into a shoot like this there are so many amazing ski shots out there thats it’s a challenge to think of different ways to shoot a subject thats been shot so many times by talented photographers . I was hoping to try and find some fresh perspectives and use some unusual angles to give something fresh, don’t know if I managed it but it’s a good thing to try and see things differently , even if what you end up getting is similar to whats been done before, after all , there’s only so many ways you can shoot a skier coming down a hill. Luckily the athletes I was working with were outstanding and able to translate exactly what I had in my mind into action on the hill .
This was shot on day 1 and I was pleased with the result. Steve Bailey is a snowboard legend and a machine at building jumps anywhere and everywhere. Here he is in action, Canon 8-15 fisheye and Canon 1 D c.
Pam Thorburn is a giant slalom and skicross athlete, general all round crusher and was nursing a torn meniscus in her L knee and a fractured knuckle in her R hand and a trapped nerve in her neck. She was walking with a crutch but when on skis she skied better than 99% of people , even with only 1 functioning leg !! . Nice to see she made the front cover : )
Mostly days in the Alps are spent in blue skies and when the weather is poor or visibility low , you go do something else. Fortunately , the one day we had a bit of cloud it gave us a little bit of atmosphere to work with , I think cloud helps to give a sense of height, and awe with mountains as the summit comes in and out of cloud and the light is diffuse with less shadows.
It was the teams first time in this resort so we were all learning the terrain and I was trying to find good backdrops and see what time of day the light worked best . This little shot was taken at a place I knew would work with the sun just before it dipped behind the mountain , I was wanting to get the glaciated terrain in shadow but the skier in the light, think I was 5 mins late though as the sun had just dipped down a touch too low for the shot and created more shadow than I wanted .
The temperature was about 20C, not ideal for shooting a winter catalogue and we were in T shirts when in the sun shooting , the South facing slopes were burnt back to barren grassy hillside so we had to shoot on the N facing slopes which meant I was shooting into the sun, I used the ELB 400 and Elinchrom triggers to use high shutter speeds and wide aperture for some of the fashion stuff
On a long shoot like this , its important to have a laugh and Amy and Pam did a cool air guitar shoot with AC/DC playing on my iPhone to give a bit of authentic rock anthem background for them to strut their stuff . Amy went into full on ‘Jimi Hendrix mode at Monterey’ and even tried to set fire to her skies with lighter fuel , awesome !, the girl can rock .
Now , I know when I posted some pics from the shoot it all looks easy , and I’m hanging out with beautiful women and taking a few pics here and there but this shoot was really hard both physically and mentally . Not just the challenge of thinking creatively all day , with virtually no break. When the athletes are not being shot they can chill and take time out , in fact everyone can take time out except me so there’s definitely a point where your brain just gets fried and thats when to call it a day and come back fresh the next day , here’s out creative director Dave showing what a hard life it is
Shooting on piste I was wanting a shot where the spray of the snow obliterates everything except the logo of the brand , this is sort of what I was trying to get , I quite like the shot, see what you think
The final shot was again on one of Steve Baileys jumps, as it was so warm the reservoir was water rather than ice with no snow around so was a bit of an usual juxtaposition of colours and angles. I like the orange against blue look, nice and contrasty.
Thanks for taking the time to read , another blog coming soon about the winter shoot for Ellis Brigham.
Thanks to F-stop gear for making great camera bags and Elinchrom for the best portable light systems around for adventure sports photographers.