BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)

Started Nov 11, 2012 | Discussions
RoelHendrickx
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BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
Nov 11, 2012

Last weekend, I covered the BIG AIR Snowboarding FIS World Championship in Antwerp.

I was granted photo-area access by Red Bull.

My photos from the main competition on Saturday are still going through Lightroom, but I can already show some samples from the Friday evening practice and presentation runs.

Whereas slopestyle and half-pipe events in snowboarding consist of a series of tricks on a longish run, Big Air can best be compared with ski jumping : after a steep and fast descent, the riders make one single jump during which they perform a series of twists and turns, and then they hopefully land on their feet on a slightly less steep slope.  Very spectacular.

Antwerp does not have mountains, so the world's largest ramp (with real snow) was built for the event.

The gallery of my Friday night BIG AIR images is here : http://roelh.zenfolio.com/p670109175

Be prepared for an adrenalin rush!

Here are a few samples, but in the gallery, you will find MUCH larger version, especially if you use the Slideshow option : it will fill your whole computer screen.

I hope you enjoyed that.  If so, check out the gallery.

C&C is always welcome.

If there are any specific questions (cameras, lenses, technique and settings, processing), I will be glad to try and give answers.

Please note though that this may take a while, as it is already late in Belgium and I have a busy day tomorrow.

Info (and some video) about the event itself is here : http://www.vwbigair.be/en/

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/Roel Hendrickx/
lots of *images*: www.roelh.zenfolio.com
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CollBaxter
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 11, 2012

Nice I like the second and last the most.

Thanks.

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jkrumm
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 11, 2012

Roel that Second one with the trailing snow is spectacular. I'll check out your gallery now...

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John Krumm
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Skeeterbytes
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 11, 2012

Thanks for reconfirming you can't do sports with the E-series.

I, too love the one with the snow streaming off the board. Super work, all of them.

Cheers,

Rick

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Roger Engelken
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 11, 2012

The third one is a winner...definitely the impression the skier is coming right for the viewer, very nicely done.  A very nice set overall.

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Roger Engelken
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to Skeeterbytes, Nov 11, 2012

...and at night no less.  You could have fooled me.:-O

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RoelHendrickx
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Collin,
In reply to CollBaxter, Nov 11, 2012

CollBaxter wrote:

Nice I like the second and last the most.

Thank you for looking.

I always value and appreciate your comments.

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dharma108
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 11, 2012

Great set there Roel. Very well done. 2 & 3 are my fav's. Did not catch what lens or lenses you used.

Dharma

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faith_ps
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 11, 2012

These are extraordinary images. You choosing the position that is best for action really does come from your photography experience. Also being at where is best for the E3 (you know that Olys are always smugged at for low lights) to take best shots does come from loving to use the gear.

Jakop

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RightRudder
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 12, 2012

Fantastic! Love the snow trails from the trailing edge of the board, the explosive light.... and of course, the snow boarders in action.

Did you pre-focus for any of these?

Did anyone fall on your head or strike in a fly-by?

I think you milked that 4/3 combo for all it's got in this situation. Great stuff!!!

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19andrew47
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 12, 2012

As others have already said, the second and third images are very nicely captured.  Really like the contrast of the boarders against the night sky, adds a lot of drama to an already dramatic image.

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aja2
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 12, 2012

NIce, Roel! I like the 2nd one best: the snow swirling with the snow boarder's rotation really adds motion to an otherwise static shot. I say 'static' because there is no motion blur, making it seem that the boarder isn't in motion.

In retrospect, I guess it's weird to say 'static,' because it's obvious that people don't just hang out in the sky without being in motion.

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RoelHendrickx
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Lenses and positioning
In reply to dharma108, Nov 12, 2012

dharma108 wrote:

Great set there Roel. Very well done. 2 & 3 are my fav's. Did not catch what lens or lenses you used.

Dharma

I did not really know what to expect in terms of positioning, lighting conditions etc, so on the first evening I took with me :

* ZD150mm on E-5 on slingstrap over my shoulder

* ZD12-60mm mounted on E-3 on belt around my waist + ZD50-200mm in lensbag on that belt.

This is easily carried, and there is not much chance for swapping lenses anyway.

It turned out that I could get pretty close to the action (on the platform between the first and second slope, right where they jump).  A good spot to catch riders against empty sky or just with floodlights and spots, and no overlap with nearby tall buildings and other distractions.

Standing that close, the 150mm was actually too long for most conditiions, and I ended up using the ZD50-200 for the best shots, at the wider part of its range (50-100mm).

For that reason I left the ZD150mm home on the second day (keeping ZD50-200 for very long range, e.g. from the bottom of the final slope), and put the ZD35-100 on my E-5.

I still have to go through those shots of the second day.

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OlyChamp
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 12, 2012

Interesting and challenging shoot, done well.  Liked the second best.

Thane

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RoelHendrickx
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Sense of Height and SPEED - freezing or showing motion??
In reply to aja2, Nov 12, 2012

aja2 wrote:

NIce, Roel! I like the 2nd one best: the snow swirling with the snow boarder's rotation really adds motion to an otherwise static shot. I say 'static' because there is no motion blur, making it seem that the boarder isn't in motion.

I had to make a few tough decisions during the shoot.

I noticed that from my positions, anything slower than 1/800sec created subject motion blur.

Panning was not really an option, because they were too close and too fast, and it was always a bit unpredictable to see where they would take off from the ramp.

From my main position (parallel to the jump but low) I could see them take off from the platform, but the lower part of the ramp was invisible, so they could "exit" left, right or middle.

Besides, there is no point to panning against empty sky.

From a higher position I could see them better, but the background (buildings across the street) was just TOO busy, even for a panning shot.

My best option was to see them come, follow through and shoot a burst at 1/1000 or 1/1250 sec, hoping to get the riders in the frame well.  Most often this was high, a bit after take-off and against empty sky.  Those shots just show the riders, as "suspended action portraits".

In a few, I caught them soon after take-off and that leads to a trail of snow behind : it is a good way to suggest speed and motion, even in a frozen shot.   The snow really adds something, especially when it is swirling.

When I managed to include part of the lights or safety nets, that was good for suggesting height.

In retrospect, I guess it's weird to say 'static,' because it's obvious that people don't just hang out in the sky without being in motion.

Let's call them "suspended in-action portraits", OK ?

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RoelHendrickx
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to jkrumm, Nov 12, 2012

jkrumm wrote:

Roel that Second one with the trailing snow is spectacular. I'll check out your gallery now...

John, I wrote some stuff about that trailing snow in another response further down in this thread.

If you have any thoughts on the gallery (amount, size, presentation, sequencing, ...), feel free to share.

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lots of *images*: www.roelh.zenfolio.com
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LouHolland
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Re: BIG AIR Snowboarding at Night (PHOTOS - Antwerp)
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 12, 2012

RoelHendrickx wrote:

Last weekend, I covered the BIG AIR Snowboarding FIS World Championship in Antwerp.

I was granted photo-area access by Red Bull.

My photos from the main competition on Saturday are still going through Lightroom, but I can already show some samples from the Friday evening practice and presentation runs.

Whereas slopestyle and half-pipe events in snowboarding consist of a series of tricks on a longish run, Big Air can best be compared with ski jumping : after a steep and fast descent, the riders make one single jump during which they perform a series of twists and turns, and then they hopefully land on their feet on a slightly less steep slope. Very spectacular.

Antwerp does not have mountains, so the world's largest ramp (with real snow) was built for the event.

The gallery of my Friday night BIG AIR images is here : http://roelh.zenfolio.com/p670109175

Be prepared for an adrenalin rush!

Here are a few samples, but in the gallery, you will find MUCH larger version, especially if you use the Slideshow option : it will fill your whole computer screen.

I hope you enjoyed that. If so, check out the gallery.

C&C is always welcome.

If there are any specific questions (cameras, lenses, technique and settings, processing), I will be glad to try and give answers.

Please note though that this may take a while, as it is already late in Belgium and I have a busy day tomorrow.

Info (and some video) about the event itself is here : http://www.vwbigair.be/en/

-- hide signature --

/Roel Hendrickx/
lots of *images*: www.roelh.zenfolio.com
my E-3 user field *report* from Tunisian Sahara: http://www.biofos.com/ukpsg/roel.html

-

So back afther two weeks.

Roel, I like the softness in your first shot, makes it impressive and monumental. They are all fine but the second with the turn above the light with the swirling snow gives a good impression and mood from that event. I guess you've used beside shutter or aperture presetting also automatic iso? Also, while I find the images from the em-5 very good, it's to my convincing that the E-3 and E-5 have a more special character of it's own. Thanks.

Lou

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RoelHendrickx
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I considered Auto ISO, but in the end I selected values myself
In reply to LouHolland, Nov 12, 2012

LouHolland wrote:

So back afther two weeks.

Roel, I like the softness in your first shot, makes it impressive and monumental. They are all fine but the second with the turn above the light with the swirling snow gives a good impression and mood from that event.

Thank you.

I guess you've used beside shutter or aperture presetting also automatic iso?

How to shoot with ISO was something that dawned on me quite early in the shoot.

I am normally a fan of Auto-ISO and use it almost always.  But here there was a specific reason why I chose specific ISO values for the different light circumstances (night, dusk, and on Saturday during the day).

Normally, I use A priority a lot, because DOF control is most important.

However, for something like this, shutter speed is even more important, so I did almost every with S priority.

Auto-ISO then seems to be a logical choice.  However, pretty soon I noticed that the camera likes to stay in lower ISO values, whenever the shutter speed is fast enough to prevent motion blur.  So the camera will sooner open up the aperture than raise the ISO.

However, on fast moving subjects, a shallow DOF is not really an advantage : I prefered the shoot at F3.5 or F4 whenever possible, instead of using the F2 that the lens could provide, to have more DOF.

In order to achieve that, it was better to just go with ISO 1600 (on E-3) and values between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 (on the E-5), so that the total equation of ISO, S and A would result in a slightly stopped down aperture.  That was preferable over the camera picking ISO 800 and a bigger aperture.

I did almost everything with spot-metering.

I hope this explains the reasoning.

Also, while I find the images from the em-5 very good, it's to my convincing that the E-3 and E-5 have a more special character of it's own. Thanks.

I still like to use them, so I agree.

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acwalbur
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Very nice Roel....
In reply to RoelHendrickx, Nov 12, 2012

Very nice ISO 3200 captures there - it really helps when there is nothing to recover from the sky so you can let the background go to deep black.

Are you using center cross or center only AF on these?  I'll assume S-AF+M was your focus mode?

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Good shooting.
- Adam

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RoelHendrickx
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ISO and focus : some more details
In reply to acwalbur, Nov 12, 2012

acwalbur wrote:

Very nice ISO 3200 captures there - it really helps when there is nothing to recover from the sky so you can let the background go to deep black.

Yes, that helps.

But ISO 3200 is quite workable.  The detail on the riders is sufficient.

Are you using center cross or center only AF on these? I'll assume S-AF+M was your focus mode?

I use S-AF-M in diamond pattern center, but most often I prefocus approximately on the spot where the rider will leave the ramp.  And when I position myself inbetween the take-off slope and the landing slope, I can roughly maintain focus throughout the jump (unless the rider comes towards me or goes away from me).

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/Roel Hendrickx/
lots of *images*: www.roelh.zenfolio.com
my E-3 user field *report* from Tunisian Sahara: http://www.biofos.com/ukpsg/roel.html

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