MS Trust Monster Ski Weekend

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be asked to take a few photos for this years MS Thrust Monster Ski Weekend. The event is organized annually to raise money for Multiple sclerosis. This year 15 enthusiastic participants descended on Chamonix to attempt to ski 90,000 vertical feet each in just 3 days. I was only planning on shooting for an hour or so on the first day to get a couple of shots for a little write up on Chamonet.com but I was welcomed in to the group with open arms and ended up having such a great time with everybody involved I decided to hang out with the group for most of the day. The most impressive thing about it all was seeing one of the participants Ben who has MS achieve his dream of snowboarding again. He has no feeling in his legs from below the knees and walks with a stick, most people were only expecting him to achieve a couple of run and not get close to the 90,000 feet target due to his condition. But strap a board to his feet and as if by magic he's a changed man, you wouldn't have a clue of his condition if you saw him boarding he was pinning it... slashing, jumping, trowing trick and more importantly loving every minute of it. It was a remarkable transformation. I overheard his father say "Ive not seen him smile this much in a few years.." A touching moment that I wont forget for a while and one which really opened my eyes to the devastating effects MS can have on peoples lives. Despite this and having testing weather conditions for the next two days Ben and all the others completed there 90,000 vertical feet target and raised an impressive £13,000 for the charity. Well done to everybody involved and a big thank you for letting me be a part of it. They might not be some of my most impressive photos from this season but it was definitely one of my best days of piste skiing this year by far..
For more information visit the link below
www.mstrust.org.uk
And for a more in-depth write up visit the link below
www.mstrust.org.uk/interactive/mstrust/2015/monster-ski-in-chamonix-a-truly-humbling-experience

All 15 participants and there two lovely guides at the top of the Prarion lift.

All 15 participants and there two lovely guides at the top of the Prarion lift.

Ben about to cover me in snow..

Ben about to cover me in snow..

The Guide checking everybody's ability before they were let loose.

The Guide checking everybody's ability before they were let loose.

No time for slouching around when you have to do 12 huge runs a day.

No time for slouching around when you have to do 12 huge runs a day.

Zoom...

Zoom...

Beautiful views of the Mont Blanc Massif.

Beautiful views of the Mont Blanc Massif.

Flying the MS Trust flag.

Flying the MS Trust flag.

Ben busting out his tricks, I told you it was impressive.

Ben busting out his tricks, I told you it was impressive.

The advance ski group, these guys had clocked up 8 plus runs before lunch.

The advance ski group, these guys had clocked up 8 plus runs before lunch.

The not so advanced group, who were taking a more leisurely pace.

The not so advanced group, who were taking a more leisurely pace.

The boys enjoying the view.

The boys enjoying the view.

If you would like to donate and support this great charity please follow the link below.
www.mstrust.org.uk/donate-online

Photoshop & Nix Collection

Today Ive been playing around with a few filters in Photoshop and Nix Collection to try and create some more dramatic effects (which appear to be all the rage these days) than my usual commercial style. Example image is Jon Dredge from More Mountain riding a little ridge line in the Vallee de la Manche, Morzine.

Example 1 :  Is my standard color correction, brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness for my usual commercial print and web clients. Not blowing out the highlights or loosing to much shadow detail.

Example 1 : Is my standard color correction, brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness for my usual commercial print and web clients. Not blowing out the highlights or loosing to much shadow detail.

Example 2 :  Is based on an Instagram effect Ludwig, lowering the blue tones and desaturating the image to neutralize the sky and background while separating the saturation in the rider. Some very light dodging and burning to add a little additional depth to the shadows and highlights without blowing out the highlights. A nice effect while still being a commercially sell-able image.

Example 2 : Is based on an Instagram effect Ludwig, lowering the blue tones and desaturating the image to neutralize the sky and background while separating the saturation in the rider. Some very light dodging and burning to add a little additional depth to the shadows and highlights without blowing out the highlights. A nice effect while still being a commercially sell-able image.

Example 3 :  Is a tweaked Nix Collection effect, using Tonal Contrast setting in a similar way as the previous image to desaturate the background, Detail Extraction to bring out the details and contrast, Reflector Efex to exaggerate the light intensity, some simple Levels and Curves to add even more details and contrast and a subtle Vignette to draw the focus to the rider and center of the image.

Example 3 : Is a tweaked Nix Collection effect, using Tonal Contrast setting in a similar way as the previous image to desaturate the background, Detail Extraction to bring out the details and contrast, Reflector Efex to exaggerate the light intensity, some simple Levels and Curves to add even more details and contrast and a subtle Vignette to draw the focus to the rider and center of the image.

Example 4 :  Now for the Black & White. This is simply a straight B&W conversion from the original photo. Often if B&W's are to flat in contrast they loose detail between there components - foreground, background, main focus unlike in the color version where the red of the jacket for example separates the rider from the background. Because of this I generally prefer a slightly higher contrast image with B&W's to help separate these details.

Example 4 : Now for the Black & White. This is simply a straight B&W conversion from the original photo. Often if B&W's are to flat in contrast they loose detail between there components - foreground, background, main focus unlike in the color version where the red of the jacket for example separates the rider from the background. Because of this I generally prefer a slightly higher contrast image with B&W's to help separate these details.

Example 5 :  This is the standard style B&W setting I use for my clients and personal work. I prefer a slightly higher contrast image with B&W's and in the right circumstances will allow for a little of the highlights to get blown out and shadow to loose a little detail, so long as it looks purposeful and not just badly shot. For example you can see how the trees are beginning to darken to the point at which they loose detail and become a mass of black. But the pay off is a much more dynamic and punchy result.

Example 5 : This is the standard style B&W setting I use for my clients and personal work. I prefer a slightly higher contrast image with B&W's and in the right circumstances will allow for a little of the highlights to get blown out and shadow to loose a little detail, so long as it looks purposeful and not just badly shot. For example you can see how the trees are beginning to darken to the point at which they loose detail and become a mass of black. But the pay off is a much more dynamic and punchy result.

Example 6 :  Is a tweaked Nix Collection B&W effect using similar effects as the color Nix version, designed to highten the images brightness and contrast dramatically without loosing any shadow and highlight detail. As you can see here compared to example 5 the dark trees still hold there tonal definition and you keep more definition in the foreground snow whilst creating a dramatic sky.

Example 6 : Is a tweaked Nix Collection B&W effect using similar effects as the color Nix version, designed to highten the images brightness and contrast dramatically without loosing any shadow and highlight detail. As you can see here compared to example 5 the dark trees still hold there tonal definition and you keep more definition in the foreground snow whilst creating a dramatic sky.

Conclusion:
I'm not going to stop producing Example 1, my perfectly color corrected, saturated, professional images any time soon, its certainly my style and one that has done me well. I am a fan of Example 2, and like its subtle effect with still commercial potential. For me Example 3, is great for the quick and easy Instagram fix but I don't see myself implementing it any time soon as a regular fixture its to dark and gritty for so many uses but an interesting style none the less.
Example 4, was always just that an example to show its flatness in comparison to the others. I'm a big fan of Example 5, the tradition B&W technique and can see its use in so many commercial, personal purposes, it offers a strong finished result with contrast, depth and just enough detail. And Finally Example 6, I'm surprised how much I love this result. Again I think its limited to the Instgram world and maybe big wall prints and is most probably a modern style that will soon fall out of fashion as soon as the next imaging fad comes along but WOW it packs a punch so much detail, so much contrast, so much depth, all so sharp and without shooting HRD Impressive. Just a well exposed... well composed... image and a little post production magic.

Let me know your thoughts and which images you prefer.

Dutch Mountain Film Festival, Photo Exhibition

Here are some images from my recent exhibition of Trail Running photos from this years Dutch Mountain Film Festival at the Parkstad Limburg Theater Heerlen. Big thanks to Paul Lahaye for organizing the event and for these photos, as unfortunately due to work I was not able to attend the show. All the exhibition photos are from around the Chamonix valley covering events such as the Mont Blanc Marathon, The North Face Ultra Trail, a shoot with Nathan Hydration team runners and some personal projects.
Enjoy..

Links:
http://www.dmff.eu/
www.facebook.com/DMFF.eu
www.lahaye.ws