Soaring Through the Air at SolVista

With all the ski resorts in Colorado open, and the snow the best it's been in awhile, comes the opportunity to photograph snowboarders and skiers in action.  While staying up in Granby, and skiing at SolVista, I became aware of a small rail jam competition they were having.  "What's a rail jam," may be the next question out of your mouth.  According to Wikipedia, a rail jam is "a jib contest. Riders perform tricks on rails, boxes, pipes, wall rides, and several other creative features. Rail jams are done in a small area, usually with two or three choices of features for the rider to hit on a run."


What that meant for me, as a photographer, was that I could walk to where the competition was being held, without having to take the lift up, and ski or board down, with my camera backpack on.  I'm a decent skier and a decent snowboarder, but still I'd rather not take the chance.

After verifying with the resort that yes, it was ok if I came to photograph it, I made arrangements to be 30 minutes early.  The website people apparently don't communicate very well with the terrain park people (or vice-versa), since although the website said it started at 1, it actually had started at 12, so I was 30 minutes late. No matter, still plenty of time, and tricks to be had.

The sky was gray, but I decided that was better than having harsh and weird sunlight, since now all the riders and tricks would be lit pretty evenly by the natural light.

2/6/11 Railjam

One thing I had to quickly become aware of, was which riders were coming down "normal", and which were coming down "goofy".  Why was this an issue?  I was standing off to the side of the features, so as not to get in their way, so which way they came down was the difference between me getting their face in the shot, or getting their back.  However with snowboarding, you have the added issue of riders switching stances, so I decided the best way to deal with this was spend a little bit of time on the left side of each feature, then wait for an opening, and run across to the right side instead.  This was my best strategy I believe.

The skiers were a little bit easier in that respect, although there were plenty of times when they switched to a side stance while on a feature.

2/26/11 Railjam

Overall it was a lot of fun shooting this event. The riders were really focused, and having a lot of fun, and that made it more enjoyable to photograph.

2/26/11 RailJam