Each year the Nine Queens castle is a masterpiece of shaping, with all its beautiful shapes, tunnels, rails, and of course, large gap kicker. All this structure becomes even more beautiful when the best girls in both skiing and snowboarding fly alongside a helicopter into a red/pink/blue sky during sunset or sunrise shooting.
The first day, I said to Nico Zacek, the event’s creator, “I hate your castle. It’s so easy to get a nice picture that it’s boring. What can a photographer add to this perfect set up?”
We always arrive the first day, find the classic, good angles, and then move to the other ones before we realize the first one is the best and to join the other photographers there. Especially during sunset, we’re all in a line, one meter next to each other, producing the same picture.
“Hey, I did something new!” Christopher laughs after getting a shot in a mirrored iPhone screen…
Obviously, we are all just kidding around about this situation. But nevertheless, it remains a challenge to produce a truly unique photo at such a media-saturated event.
Given this situation, how can a photographer build a different picture ? We use mirrors, we use iPhones, we use special post-production filters, but this gets boring quickly. Yes, photographers always complain and find explanations for their shitty pictures.
A few months ago during a trip in Russia, I found a technique that has probably existed for a while, but that I never saw before. (One good advantage of not being aware of what happens in photography). The Nine queens setup—what a good time to try it out!
I just used one of the capacities of the Canon 5D Mark 3, the double exposure. It’s simple, and based on a technique from film photography in which the same film frame is exposed twice.
I take two photos, and my camera puts them together in one. It’s not about post-production, but occurs directly in-camera. My concept is to change the perception of what we see, and create a contrast between natural and artificial in my picture to create emotion and surprise.
So I took one photo with mid/long exposure time of the sky, 1/20 seconds, and turned my zoom while taking the picture to make the light come towards me, Star Wars lightspeed style. Then I took a classic action shot, waited a couple of seconds to see if I liked it, and repeated if necessary.
Maybe you don’t like it—probably you don’t like it—but admit that it’s different. At the very least, it keeps the photographer interested while he or she is getting all those great classic angles.
The point is that having the perfect setup and the perfect work atmosphere pushes the photographer to try new things. Every year, Nine Queens increases the progression not just on the freeski side, but on the photographers’ side as well.
We feel like kids with toys for one week. We love it, and when we see the photo contest results, how could we not be satisfied? So let’s thank Nico, the girls, the shaper crew and everyone who made it happen.