Saturday, February 15, 2014

Women's Freestyle Aerial Ski Jumping / Multiple Exposure mode on the Canon 1DX

Yesterday, since there were no hockey games or press conferences for team USA, I made my second trip up to the mountain cluster, to go and shoot some of the freestyle skiing women's aerials. This was a really long trip for a short amount of photography, but I think I will cover that in the next blog entry.

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.

24 comments:

patsjazzpix said...

Looks interesting-multiple exposures in the same frame-I guess it has to do with exposure to prevent blow outs and keeping the camera steady, or fixed in one spot? I love the Canon 1DX-even though I may not own one for a few more year$!

Unknown said...

Love the look of the multi exp shots Jeff. Is the 1DX the only Canon body that can do this in camera?

Unknown said...

he multi exp shots are awesome Jeff! Is the 1DX the only Canon body that can do this in camera?

Anonymous said...

Love the multi exp shots.. it lets you see so much in one shot. Love your work and your blog

Joe Roswell said...

Looks cool but I would think the intended position would be from the side not straight on. So you could get multiple exposures in one shot without having to stack images in PP. Definetly an interesting mode.

Mark Coons said...

I enjoyed this post a lot Jeff. The struggles you have and your approach to resolve them are very informative!

Like the multiple exposures too. That would be a great feature to have but as I am going to be on my 1D3 for sometime I'll just enjoy yours!

Charlie Pesti said...

Love the multiple shoots, awesome!

Anonymous said...

How were you able to darken the background, but still keep your subject properly exposed? Was a flash used?

Richard said...

Love the multiple exposure shots, but would like more separation between the images. Maybe rapid single shots instead of continuous if that is possible.

Larry S. said...

I love multi-exposure but I think in this sport 7&9 are too many positions in such a small area, 4-5 would allow us to see more of the athlete without so much overlay. 7-9 would look really cool from center-ramp to landing, from the side.

And, per "anonymous, how do you blacken background?

Thanks for keeping us informed!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes i use the multiple exposure mode in my D90. I think that your last shot is pretty good! Well done!

Anonymous said...

I believe the 5D also allows multiple exposure...

Ryan Brown said...

The ME mode is an interesting feature, but I've seen it (or similar techniques) used to much greater dramatic effect, with a subject that tracks in a line across the frame. ie, coming down the slope, rather than at the jump, or maybe one of the figure skaters moving across the ice, with a wider field of view.

Mattias R said...

Like the idea of the multi exp but I think I would prefer less movement between each exposure. I think it would look better with more symmetry between the exposures. If you good "multi exposure movement" you will see examples of what I mean.

Samatra Johnson said...

For those that asked about the multiple exposure shots. I know the 5D MarkIII and 6D are capable of them. Great job.

Greg Dodds said...

Love the multiple shoots. Shows great creatively in your mindset. Even as a Pro and well respected in your Craft. You can talk about struggling with shots and trying to get right. You gained more respect and fans. Look forward to seeing more great shots.

rcortinas said...

Jeff

I enjoyed every shot on the USA vs. Rusia game. One think I enjoy the most is the action shots. It is pretty amazing that you have a piece of plexy glass in front of the lent and the pics look so clean.
I've never had a 1DX in my hands, but I think is an umbelevible piece of equipment.
I like the multi exp, if it just can be separated a bit more, I think they will look better for me.
I still don't know how you can do all that you do and write a blog for us. When do you sleep ?
What I know is only a passion of what you doing can drive you to do all that.
Thanks again for keep us inform and have a taste of the olimpic games from a photografer prospective.
Waiting for the next blog.
Thanks !!!

Dawn Gail said...

I find the multi exposures interesting, my hubby on the other hand did not like (what does he know anyway). Loving your honesty with your struggles, even as a professional you still encounter problems us amaetur's have. Glad you found your groove and got some awesome pictures. Love the story on Santo's that is amazing, love the back stories on these participants.

Dawn Gail said...

Multi exposure was interesting. Thank you for sharing your struggles on getting shoots, makes this amateur feel better knowing this is still a problem for professionals too. Loved Santo's story, this to me is the true spirit of the Olympics. Amazing what short amount of time she has been skiing. The pictures with the snow flying are beautiful.

Giovanni Mazz said...

Great shots Jeff the hockey spray shot is a great capture and the ski jump multi shot is off the hook ! Thanks for sharing jmazz

Giovanni Mazz said...

Great shots Jeff ...... too bad about your 5 hours of sleep ..... the multi shots are incredible/ Thank you for sharing, John

Giovanni Mazz said...

Great shots Jeff the hockey spray shot is a great capture and the ski jump multi shot is off the hook ! Thanks for sharing jmazz

Lynn Ball said...

Love love love the multiple exposures!

Steve Ray said...

Great stuff Jeff! I really love the shot "Edit_Ariel_Ski_Jumping_Women_0216_Crop.JPG" with the darkened background. I'm curious if this is a simple exposure adjustment of does your camera have something akin to curves on the exposure?

On the multiple shots, I think they are interesting. The last one is pretty good, but I might like them better as linear progressions across the frame.

Love reading your blog and learning from it!