A young racer skids to a stop after crossing the finish line. This photo was taken at the USSA J4/J5/J6 Finale Races at Ski Brule on Sunday March, 7 2010.
This project has put the photographer juice back into my tank. When I graduated from college I received a 35 mm SLR. Over the years I acquired a significant photo and lens collection. I tended to wildlife photography and scenery. However, I was not real keen on sports in general and skiing in particular at those times. Especially since my glass collection was acquired when I resided in the UAE, and this was years before the opening of Ski Dubai.
Over the years, my Minolta body and lenses have been collecting dust. In late 2004 I purchased a Panasonic Lumix FZ20 camera and have been using this as an all purpose camera. A lot of people acquire gear such as that and become afraid to use it for fear of breaking it. To be quite honest, I was afraid of using my camera to its full extent too. Now though, I am a much better skier and am less afraid of skiing in my accustomed environment with my camera. I strap my camera around the shoulder and move it around depending on the chair I am loading onto and then roll it over to my back when skiing.
So on Sunday, I skied with the camera the whole day. Admittedly, we hit the hill late and most of my time was spent using it taking photos.
Now, the one thing I regret and that is using the camera as a point and shoot over the years. I figured out how to set exposure compensation, how to auto-bracket, and that was about it. I have learned more about this camera since the last weekend than I did from late 2004 to last Friday.
Still, what to do about my Minolta glass? I am starting to shop for a digital SLR. My biggest piece of glass is 300 MM f/2.8 behemoth, with a 2x teleconverter I have a 600 MM f/5.6 lens. Does that blow my Panasonic away? Suprisingly, no but it does beat it. Looking at the exif data (using the Perl module exiftool) of my images I see the longest 35 mm focal length is 432 mm which is longer than my longest lens without its photoids, but with the tele-converter I can reach out another 50%.
All in all, I would say my experience photographing the USSA race was a good learning experience. Next years improvements will be to go in with more knowledge on the gear I am using, obtaining credentials to actually go onto the race courses, using one of the handheld 2-way radios I have, to know who is coming through the gates, and recording that information about who is on course. So I can report on skiers by name and then follow up by offering my photos for sale.