I got to the venue about 2 hours early, to make sure I could get a shooting position and to look at the locations of the shooting positions. Since I did not have crampons on my shores, I could not climb to a high position, to shoot down on the jumpers. But, knowing that I had the Canon 200-400 lens, I was not worried about my distance to the women. I watched some of the practice jumps, and determined that, even from the bottom of the course, I would be able to get a tight shot of them.
Then it was back into the press room to get warm, wait for the start of the competition, and write another blog.
For those of you who think that I am a professional photographer, and therefore must be good at shooting everything, let me assure you, that is not the case. For the first 3 women, I either completely missed the jump (because I was keying in on jumps 2 and 3 and they went off jumps 4,5 or 6), or I could not get them in the frame with the speed they were jumping. Then, when I started to get the feel of how they launched, there were times when I could not track them well enough to keep them in focus.
In order to get used to photographing this event, I started out shooting many of the women at 250mm, making it a little easier to get them in my sites. This also helps me show the distance that they are jumping from the ground.
Once I got the hang of this, I started shooting tighter on them.
Here is a tighter crop of the previous photo. This shows that I did indeed have her in focus.
I should mention that I changed a bunch of settings in order to get the photos I wanted. Honestly, for the first 20 minutes of this event, I was getting frustrated with myself, and thinking I was going to walk away with nothing! I then switched from aperture priority to manual mode (ISO 1250, f/4, 1/1600 sec) and I also changed the focus mode on the Canon 1DX to "Case 2" which continues to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles. I used AI Servo mode and changed from a single focal point to a small cluster of focal points. All this made a big difference.
Now I was able to get the photos I wanted (although I was getting a little cold at this point, since I chose not to bundle up too much since the previous trip to the mountain was warmer than I expected.)
This photo shows a women from Brazil who went off her own little jump. But this is such a great story, that I could not help but show all of you.
I was sitting next to a Brazilian writer on the bus ride to the mountains, and he told me that he was going up to write a story about Joselane Santos. He said that she was not very good at ski jumping, but that she was so happy just to be there. Remember, there isn't any snow in Brazil! As a matter of fact, she had never even jumped on real snow until one year ago.
She did a very simple back lay maneuver on both jumps, but she landed both of them and was just thrilled. She was so happy that she cried. She came in last place, but didn't care. That my friends, is the Olympic spirit! You can read more about her in this article.
Shooting in manual mode, I was able to darken the background, but keep the skier properly exposed. And I just love how the snow coming off of her skis, creates this starry night effect around her.
Then I decided to try a new mode on the Canon 1DX, which is called the multiple exposure mode.
This is my test shot using this mode. I just wanted to see what it would do to the workers on the landing area. Not very impressive, that's for sure.
Then I started playing around with the menus a little more, adjusting the exposure and shooting mode. I would prefocus on the end of the jump, try to hold the camera steady (on the Gitzo monopod) and fire off the multiple shots.
I would end up trying this different ways, sometimes with 7 shots combined, and other times with 9 shots combined. I also switched from high speed continuous mode to a slower continuous mode to show more separation in the women's jump.
This was the last photo I took before leaving the venue. I like the fact that these are different from the standard "woman in the air" shot, but I am curious to know what you all think of these multiple exposure shots.