Time / Date:
4:55 PM / January 2, 2013
Camera Body: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
Shutter Speed: 1/1000s
Focal Length: 24mm
I spend my winters shooting snowboarding all over the globe. however, I´m based close to the Arlberg mountains in Austria, and when it gets good here, there really is no need to travel far! With Gigi Ruef living just 10 minutes down the road from my place, I have one of the world´s best snowboarders close by who grew up riding these mountains and knows every nook and cranny from the inside out. The resort where this photo was taken at is where Gigi actually learned how to ride a snowboard two decades ago.
We had an epic winter in 2013, and got a good amount of snow early in the season. Then it got warm for a few days around Christmas, and the snow slid and cracked up a bit, but the day before we headed out we got another 10 inches of fresh. This all made for a cool landscape to play around in! We hiked into this zone and just shot some straight airs off all the windlips, when later in the afternoon, the fog started to move in and out of our zone. The sun was setting and the whole area lit up in shades of blue and yellow.
I shot this one as a second angle off the tripod with my backup camera, remotely triggered with a pocketwizard setup. I like shooting second angles, especially in the backcountry. At most of the spots the riders hit out there, they only get a few tries, so I make sure I try to get the shot with the main camera in hand. A second angle on the tripod gives me opportunity to go a bit more experimental, and if it works out, the riders get two shots out of one try.
The Canon EOS 7D is a great backup camera. The APS-C sized chip might not deliver the same quality as a full frame one, but the camera is fast (and as I can´t time my shot off the tripod, I need a fast burst to capture the right moment), plus the crop factor opens up a new field of use for each of my lenses. If need be, I can turn my 200mm lens into a 300mm, just by switching bodies.
Making the Shot:
With all the fog around us, it was super hard to tell the size of those windlips, how far away they were and how big Gigi was going to go. I framed this backup angle wide to show the whole scenery, and that decision made the shot – on my main angle, I went too closeup, thinking the lip was further away and bigger than it actually was, and Gigi ended up at the very edge of my frame, which ruined the composition.
Editing & Processing:
I increased the contrast and accentuated the colours in post production to render the moment the way I experienced it.
At the moment the session was going on, I didn´t quite realize how epic it all actually was. It was early in the season, we only headed up the hill around noon for a few hours of shooting, it was such a mellow vibe and we didn´t expect to leave with a bag of bangers. I knew it was good stuff, but it´s hard to judge at the beginning of the season because you don´t really have any comparison. The bad days from past seasons are memories fading quickly! So it was only a few months later when the season came to an end, when I realized how good that day actually had been. I ended up with two ads, multiple double spreads and a cover from those three hours of shooting only!
Be passionate about what you´re shooting, and when things align, make sure you and your equipment are ready to get the shot!
I love the ever changing terrain you come across out there in snowboarding, formed by snow and wind. The landscape is a different one after every snowfall, every storm, every season. Even in the streets – when snow falls, it opens up all these possibilities to ride where there was just concrete before. And I love how these conditions are so ephemeral – it´s on when it´s on. And if you don´t make the best of it now, you´re blowing it, because who knows when the next good day might be? I get inspired when creative and talented riders are around to interpret that terrain in their very own way, when they turn that windlip into a jump or that wall into a ride. It´s such a creative process, it will never, ever get old.
About the Photographer
Born and raised in Switzerland, Cyril has been shooting professionally since 2007. After 4 years in a staff photographer position with Burton Snowboards, he is now working freelance, spending the winters documenting the snowboarders of the Nike SB team on the road. Follow his instagram @cyrilphoto.
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