Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tips: Creating Winter Memories

This time of year many cities transform their downtown into winter wonderlands, complete with ice rinks. As your family takes the ice - whether indoor or outdoor - you may be driven to pick up your camera and take some snapshots. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind as you click the shutter.

  • Look for the light. Whether outdoors or indoors, lighting conditions may be challenging. If shooting at an outdoor rink at night, look for the light. There will be areas on the ice under the spots where you'll be able to capture more detail. Wait for your shot - press the shutter just as your family skates into the better lit area.

  • Watch your shutter speed. Sharp pictures of skaters frozen in time require a fast shutter speed. In low light situations this can be tricky. Check your camera to see if it has a high ISO option and set that menu option. With a digital SLR, start at 800, checking to see if you're able to get a correct exposure at 1/125 or faster. Up the ISO until you can. While this introduces noise into the image, capturing the moment is more important than selecting a lower ISO and missing the shot altogether. If you're unable to get a fast shutter speed, minimize camera shake with a monopod or tripod or by bracing yourself. Also, look for moments where the action slows down - a skater taking their first steps on the ice; a skater waiting anxiously to take the ice; etc.

  • Fill the frame with your subject. A telephoto lens helps you get in close to the action - this draws your eye (and the eyes of others) into the image.

  • If shooting indoor, shoot perpendicular to the Plexiglas. If you're shooting indoors, you may have to contend with Plexiglas between you and the skaters. Be sure to look through your viewfinder to see if you're catching any reflection. Also, if you're right at the glass, look for spots that are free from scratches and smudges and place your camera lens directly against the glass - ideally perpendicular to the glass. Take some test shots before the action begins and enlarge the image in your viewfinder to see if you've got the reflection of the glass or spectators in your shot. Experiment with angling the lens to see which angles keep reflections at a minimum.

Ice Skating Galleries

Some additional resources:

Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.