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Thread: Carrying gear while skiing?

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    Default Carrying gear while skiing?

    I'm going skiing next week. The last time we were in Colorado during the summer so I didn't worry about carrying my camera with me. This time we'll be on the slopes. I plan on taking the smaller EPL2 and 20mm f1.7, and thought about carrying adapted 14-42 and/or 40-150 4/3 kit lenses. The problem is, I haven't skied in a long time and I haven't skied a lot in the past anyway. So I'm fully expecting some crashing.

    What's the best way to carry some camera items with me and protect them during a spill?

    In addition, I'd like to get some action shots of the family, so I'd like access. I don't know how the EPL2 and 20mm would hold up hanging from a wrist strap for a short time.

    I'm not sure I want to haul the E3 and 12-60 around, but that's an option too. I'm not as much afraid of hurting the camera and lens as I am of falling on it and hurting myself.

    If anyone has experience, I'm all ears.

    Thanks.
    Brian
    Wife, 2.5 kids, house, a couple of cars, a big screen tv, etc.
    E3, HLD4, 9-18, 12-60, 50-200, 35-100, Sigma 30, FL36r
    EPL2, 20 f1.7, 4/3 14-42 & 40-150, OM 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 135 f2.8

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Hi Brian!

    You came to the right place to ask about ski photos. I have skied about 30-40 days a season for a couple of decades and have had my camera gear with me on nearly every one of those days. Most of the time, I have carried a quality point and shoot, but I have also carried a DSLR and dual kit lens with me on many occasions. It all depends on priorities. Since my better half and I spend lot of time in Colorado, we usually carry a point and shoot there (the "been there, done that" effect). I know this will sound a bit snooty (or like BS, take your pick), but the main Colorado resorts (Summit County, Vail etc.) are quite simply not all that scenic compared to many other spots in the northern/southern Rockies and the far west/Pacific NW. Disregard that piece of advice if you are heading to somewhere more southern like Telluride or Silverton, which are located in some of the most scenic terrain in ski-dom. But, it sounds like you are a good intermediate skier, and unless you are an expert (or crazy, like me) and are prepared to do a lot of hiking into the sidecountry or above the lifts, a good point and shoot (a good one like my XZ-1) will be plenty good enough for most of Colorado resort photography. We try to carry better gear when we are skiing in more scenic/exotic spots like the Tahoe region, or the British Columbia backcountry.

    So, on to the gear-carrrying strategy. First, no, you don't have to worry about "crashing your gear". No one crashes more than I do, and my gear has survived just fine. I've landed hard on it many times and it keeps on ticking. Cameras are pretty rugged nowadays.

    But, there are a number of ways to carry your photo gear while skiing. Some are (much) better than others.

    1. Wrist straps:

    No, just no. Skiing takes place in, well, kinda cold conditions. Camera batteries don't like that, and you will find that your lens fogs up on many occasions. Plus, you need the use of your arms and hands to ski well. I can't count the number of crashes I've had monkeying around trying to shoot while I should be concentrating on my skiing instead of shooting.

    2. Jacket Pockets:

    Now we are talking. Most point and shoots fit nicely into a jacket pocket. Some even do so with a little TC attached. My wife and I differ here (when we were using this method). She likes to hang the camera around her neck and pull it out to shoot by unzipping the front of her jacket quickly. I like to have the camera in a front pocket to unzip and shoot. Both methods work very well once you get the hang of it. Cameras tend to stay warm and do not fog up. I done the neck strap thing with an Oly 410 DSLR and 14-42 kit lens, with the 40-150 kit lens on my pocket. After a while it becomes second nature and you don't know it's even there.

    3. Backpack:

    By far the best way to maximize your camera experience on the slopes (heck, your overall ski experience on the slopes, period) is to ski with a small backpack. My wife and I never hit the slopes without wearing a pack now. Most quality ski packs (or, any quality backpack for that matter), has a hip belt with small fanny pouches built into them. My Osprey Switch pack has one on each side that will fit my wife's EPM-1 mini with a prime attached, and you can even cram it in with the 14-42 on it. It's super-easy to get the camera in and out quickly from a front fanny pocket. Skiing with a pack just has so many advantages. It protects your back, so it's warmer. I carry a water bladder in mine as well a lunch sandwich, some basic first aid stuff (aspirin, antacid, bandages, space blanket, glow stick etc), extra pole basket, plus my wallet, keys and cellphone are safely locked inside. Carrying lunch saves me twice the price of the backpack every single week, versus paying through the nose the required $20-25 for lunch on the hill each day. And, after a while, you don't even notice that you have the pack on. The only disadvantage to the fanny pocket is that on very cold days, your camera will often stop working until you put it inside your jacket to warm up for a minute or two. But, I'm taking cold here- less than 10F. Most days it is not a problem.

    4. DSLR Sling:

    For serious shooting with a big telephoto and mid-range DSLR (more serious shooting than I do) you will need a dedicated chest sling, and there's really no way around this. I ski with friends who shoot this way, and they seem to get by just fine. This is way overkill for family vacation snaps. I have never found that I've needed this even for action shots, and I'm the dedicated photographer for our group's annual heliskiing trip. Someday, I will get out on a trip for some really serious backcountry shooting, and I may resort to this method if and when that happens.

    Here are some tips:

    The same general rules apply to ski photography as any other kind of outdoor photography. Ski shooting has some unique challenges. Often, there are extremes of dynamic range to contend with. So, shoot in RAW to minimize this issue. This is the single biggest piece of advice I can give you. Again, shoot in RAW, and your shots will be much, much better when you invariably have to bring up the shadows in post. Second, try to shoot "across the slope". Shooting uphill can sometimes create good effects if things are steep and scary, but shooting down the slope always makes everything look flat and boring. Third, shoot on snowy days! Many of your best shots will occur in adverse weather conditions, even if the light is not traditionally "good light." The key is to have some trees etc. in the background to break up the grey.

    Last, get used to the idea of shooting panoramas - lots and lots of panoramas. You can handhold the camera to do this - simply sweep 3-8 shoots across the hill (try to remember to do this in vertical mode). Then, bring them home and stitch them in post. It's easy, and they WILL be your best shots of the trip. Pano stitching sometimes produces amazing results. You can even shoot action shots in pano mode quite successfully (PS will select the skiing skiers and remove ghosting automatically). Plus, you can end up with a true 30-40MP jpg suitable for wall hanging even with a little point and shoot.

    Where will you be skiing in Colorado? I have loads of specific photo tips for most of the resorts, as well as insider secrets to make your vacation better (and cheaper). You can also click on my avatar and get an idea what I've been posting from ski country over the past couple of years.

    Leigh
    zippski
    Last edited by zippski; 03-07-2013 at 08:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    My wife was the skier. Her family went every year or so when she was a kid. I've been skiing once 25 years ago. But I did pretty well once I found the right skis. This trip is to introduce the kids to it so we're going to Copper Mountain with easy slopes for everyone. We chose it based on the high number of easier slopes and the layout seperating the levels in different areas. We have some friends that go there too.

    I hadn't thought of a backpack, but I carry an inexpensive throw away one on almost every vacation. I'll have to look for something light, but maybe a little better quality, I can pack things into for this one. Rather than have everyone stuff things into pockets. It sounds like the EPL2 and 20 will work for most everything or maybe the adapted 14-42 to give me wider angles and some leaway. My wife will probably carry her Canon S90 and my kids their P&S.

    I was planning on at least a couple of panoramas. I did this one last time up that direction. Loveland Pass 360 Degree Panorama - Photosynth
    Brian
    Wife, 2.5 kids, house, a couple of cars, a big screen tv, etc.
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    EPL2, 20 f1.7, 4/3 14-42 & 40-150, OM 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 135 f2.8

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Nice summer pano, Brian. Loveland Pass is a cool place in July.

    If you have, ahem, ....unusual.... like I am, you also do stuff like this on July 1st at Loveland Pass.



    Leigh
    zippski

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    One thing to keep in ind about Copper is that it tops out at well over 12,000 feet, and you will be likely sleeping at over 9000 feet (the latter is the real killer). Many people take a day or two to adjust. Drink lots of water on arrival, lay of the alcohol for a couple of days, and take some aspirin to deal with the initial low grade headache. Oh, and be prepared to bust a lung walking up the stairs to your hotel room at check in.

    On the plus side, despite its drab village and unspectacular lower slopes, Copper has some terrific upper mountian shots in the bowls and looking east across I-70 to the back side of the Ten-Mile Range. You won't be disappointed. Try to get up high on the poma/t-bars if you can, it's really scenic up there.

    Leigh
    zippski

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    I'm a little worried about the altitude. The last time in Colorado it really affected me the first couple of days. It took a long time to adjust compared to everyone else. It was one of the reasons I started getting back in shape. I dropped ~40 lbs and got up to 7 miles/day on the treadmill but it was too much strain and pounding. Now I'm doing 5 1/2 miles on an elliptical twice a week and 3 days/week of weight lifting. The plan is to shift to 2 days lifting 1 day running, one day elliptical, and 1 day biking. But with the bike trainer and treadmill at home, I may just split one day between them.

    I'm in much better shape this time around and hope that translates into keeping up with everyone. We're hoping the kids pick it up quickly (me too) and we can advance further up.

    I'm looking at ski oriented backpacks and will search the stores today. That seems like a really good option I'd never considered.
    Brian
    Wife, 2.5 kids, house, a couple of cars, a big screen tv, etc.
    E3, HLD4, 9-18, 12-60, 50-200, 35-100, Sigma 30, FL36r
    EPL2, 20 f1.7, 4/3 14-42 & 40-150, OM 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 135 f2.8

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    I ski a week or so most years and have a tip that will cost you all of $2 or so. I normally use my E30 with 18-180 which gives me a wide range of shooting options. With the bright light you will not need a big aperture. I use the regular neck strap and let the camera hang down my front with the lens pointing down. However I use a "bungee cord" designed for strapping luggage onto a roof rack around my waist and around the barrel of the lens to keep it from swinging around. If you get the right length of cord the camera is fairly secure, instantly available and not warmed up and so subject to fogging. If you fall you just have to try and avoid a full frontal fall. Oh and I stick the camera on overexpose by 2/3rds or 1 stop by default but I guess you know that. Also leave the camera behind if the weather is poor. I would have to go back into the OM days of my youth to get off piste shots - I envy you Zippski. Here's one of my lads aged 14 when he had only skiied a couple of times. I like getting the light behind a cloud of snowspray. Ski ahead, set up and ask the rest of your party to ski past you one at a time as you fire away.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Mike
    E-M1, Panolygma 7-500 in several steps.

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Great shot of your kid, Mike! That counts as "across the hill"

    Leigh
    zippski

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Weather resistance was one reason I considered the E3 and 12-60. I could carry extra battries on me and keep them warm. But it's bulky and the EPL2 with the 14-42 would be fine in bright sunlight. I'll probably try it out with the 14-42 and 20 f1.7 for later in the evening and maybe take the E3 up to the top one morning with the 9-18 to do a pano or two and some action shots. I use it for sports so I'm more familiar with it for action. I made the panorama above by using the 9-18 vertically, spinning around in program mode while watching the exposure, setting the exposure manually to a rough average, then firing off until the buffer slowed. I think it was 39 photos combined and the pano program balanced out the exposure.
    Last edited by InOmaha; 03-08-2013 at 10:43 AM.
    Brian
    Wife, 2.5 kids, house, a couple of cars, a big screen tv, etc.
    E3, HLD4, 9-18, 12-60, 50-200, 35-100, Sigma 30, FL36r
    EPL2, 20 f1.7, 4/3 14-42 & 40-150, OM 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 135 f2.8

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikebbh View Post
    ....I use a "bungee cord" designed for strapping luggage onto a roof rack around my waist and around the barrel of the lens to keep it from swinging around...

    Mike
    Or get this. Not much more than a bungee cord.
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    Comments/criticisms are just my personal opinion and are meant to be constructive. Please feel free to do the same for me.


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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Brian I confess that I know absolutely nothing about skiing, but I recently read an article about Stephan Kruckenhauser... de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan_Kruckenhauser - Translator who was THE world expert on making images while skiing prior to WWII in the Alps. Amazing photography. I thought you might enjoy reading about what he was able to do in the 1930s. It's something a little different anyway.

    (sorry about the link... it's natively in German, and what you see is a mechanical translation through Bing.)
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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    Last season I skied in New Zealand for a week carrying E5 and 14-54 in a think tank holster plus 7-14 in an additional lens holder on a waist speed belt. Skied, fell, skied, fell and so it went on, no fogging of lens no damage. Will do it all again in Japan at the end of this year. Only thing to remember was sliding the holster around to my front before getting on the lifts.Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Carrying gear while skiing?

    There is a chance of rain one day so that may force the E3 and 12-60.
    Brian
    Wife, 2.5 kids, house, a couple of cars, a big screen tv, etc.
    E3, HLD4, 9-18, 12-60, 50-200, 35-100, Sigma 30, FL36r
    EPL2, 20 f1.7, 4/3 14-42 & 40-150, OM 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 135 f2.8

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