The ski season is well under way and with amazing snow conditions from Tignes to St Anton, there’s no better time to grab your skis or snowboard and head to the powder-covered pistes of Europe’s finest ski resorts. To make sure you don’t miss a single rail, jump, run or après ski moment, professional action sports photographer and Huawei ambassador Olly Bowman, shares his hottest tips and tricks for capturing picture perfect shots whilst out and about in the mountains. And as a mountaineer and professional ski instructor, there’s not many who know the slopes better.
Use AI Effects
Before you head to the slopes, it’s worth familiarising yourself with your camera phone as it may have features that can quickly and easily help you take a great photo - from intelligent scene recognition and mode selection which applies the best settings for the situation you’re in, and softer to aperture effects that blur the background and make the subject really stand out. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
The mountains of Europe offer some of the most stunning scenery in the world. When you spot those jaw-dropping views, take a minute to think about setting up a shot to really nail that breathtaking vista. Don’t worry about clearing people out of a shot - people add scale to a photograph, and having your ski buddies in the shot creating a contrast of bright salopettes and ski jackets against the white of the mountains and the blue sky can look incredible.
The rule of thirds is a great way to think about composing your shots. Imagine horizontal and vertical lines dividing the image into three each way; where the lines cross is an aesthetically pleasing place to put the focal point of your image. Some phones have grids that you can bring up on screen to make it even easier.
Then before you snap that shot, check that there’s nothing strange in the background. The last thing you want is someone pulling a weird face or a lift pylon coming out of someone’s head.
In a photo, the eye is naturally drawn along lines so with their lift cables and snow tracks, ski resorts are ripe with opportunities to take stunning shots. Think about it; is there anything more picture-worthy than a pair of lines cutting through fresh powder? Take advantage of those early morning moments when you’re out finding your powder-fix and when you’re ready to shoot, get your mates to really skid the skis and push through their heels (without leaning back too far!) to send more snow flying for enviable action shots.
Think about the position of the sun
Have you ever experienced better light than on the mountains on a clear, blue sky day?! The sun is your natural light source for ski and snow photography and can be used to your advantage in many different ways. If the sun is behind you then your subject will be bright and well lit, however try some shots with the sun behind your subject and you can get some amazing backlit effects. Big plumes of snow look great with the light behind, as do skiers and boarders if you can get them silhouetted right in front of the sun.
But, watch out for shadows…
On a sunny day on the slopes, shadows abound, particularly when the sun is low in the sky. It’s easy to miss an unwanted shadow in your shot, so always double check your shadow isn’t in the photograph and falling on your subject.
Try interesting angles.... Get on the floor!
Rather than holding the camera in the classic landscape or portrait mode, try holding it at different angles. You can often get some great shots this way, and if the subject is an odd shape it might fill the frame better.
I like to get down low on the snow to take pictures of people in action, it makes for a really interesting viewpoint and if your subject is spraying a load of snow with their skis, the picture can really pack a punch.
Move in close
Most camera phones have a wide-angle lens so you need to get close to your subject to fill the frame. This is simple if you’re taking a photo of something static and it’s surprising how close most phones will focus, but if your subject is moving fast on the snow, you’ll need to have a bit of trust and let them ski close to you. Combine this with lying on the ground and you can get some really cool shots.
Burst mode is your friend!
If your camera has a burst mode then use it for action shots. By rapidly taking shot after shot it’s great for making sure you don’t miss any move. A word of warning though, it might take a second or two to start taking the shots, so make sure you start holding down the button well before the action starts.
Experiment with filters
Who doesn’t love a filter?! There’s no reason not to use them on your ski snaps too. There are easy-to-use built in filters on most smartphone cameras that can be applied to add flair to your photos, whilst there are lots of free apps that will do the job too. A couple of my favourites include snapseed, fotor and VSCO which are great for editing your images.
Try playing around with brightness, contrast and saturation to see if you really make your pictures pop – the brighter the whites and bluer the blues the better when it comes to ski photography!
Shoot in Raw
To really take your shots to the next level, try shooting in raw or pro mode. Raw files are much bigger which means they have more colour and brightness information stored in the file. When it comes to editing the shot afterwards, this means you can get loads of extra detail from the shadows, and if you’ve overexposed any parts, you can dull down the bright sections.
All about the Après?
You don’t need to be a pro-skier or snowboarder to enjoy the mountains! Après ski is the place to be as the day winds down and the lifts begin to shut. Some of the best atmospheric photographs are taken at golden hour, a period shortly before sunset when the light is lower in the sky, softer and ‘golden’. These days the wider lenses on smartphone cameras take in amazing amounts of light to ensure you can capture a quality image even when the light has begun to dip.
Less is Not More
Finally, take as many shots as you can. Digital photography is free and storage is getting cheaper all the time. You can always ditch any duff ones and you just never know when you might capture an incredible shot!
To learn more about the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro, head over to the product page here.