Just back from the Ecrins where I was shooting and filming with Giles Conrah and Paul Swail. Also along to help carry kit and generally be a good all-round chap was Rob Benton . The original idea was to shoot images for the Rab Autumn/ Winter 2014/15 range but we also had some sunnies , head torches and a camping stove to try and get shots of.
Giles had come up with an idea to make a making of film , so essentially when he wasn’t climbing he was filming me photographing , or getting set up and directing the action . That should be ready in the next week or so , not sure if i’m looking forward to it or not as I’m usually behind the lens , not in front of it .
First day was at Ceillac , where we headed for the cave behind Sombre heroes, a cool location and Giles knew all the routes like the back of his hand and could climb any line in a matter of minutes , amazing .
To start with I used some on camera flash to help light up the walls of the cave , I had the saturation , contrast and sharpness all dialled down on the camera to almost as low as they could go as i was also shooting video on the 5Diii so didn’t clock the fact that there was a CTB gel on the flash under the diffuser. Wasn’t until later when I took the diffuser of and saw the gel that I realised why the flash seemed a little underpowered. but here’s a shot with the blue gel , i think it actually adds to the image , reflecting the blue of the ice.
We then shot some images on the ice fall before some more dry tooling on the right of the ice fall .
The new Rab colours have amazing pop in the images and look great against the ice and rock so a definite winner there , finally a company not just making grey/black overtrousers.
Next day , after picking up Paul from Serre Che we skinned up to a small mountain hut above Vallouisse. I’m new to skiing , having had 3 days in Chamonix in early Dec so was not sure how the ski touring thing would go , the skinning up bit would be ok , just the skiing through the trees on the return I thought could be interesting. the skinning was a slog , poor technique , heavy pack and i got to the hut somewhat destroyed but revived with some chocolate and started looking at the creative potential in the hut. Its really no more than a garden shed , with a door that doesn’t close but has a wood burning stove and great character and was great to photograph in . I used one or two 580 EXii off camera flashes , with TT5 triggers and a small lastolite ezybox to soften the flash. I dialled it down to around 1/16 or 1/32 power to not overpower the ambient light.
The ski back down to the valley through the trees was icy++ and I opted for walking rather than risking my neck and gear , eventually Giles and Rob did the same and only Paul skied all the way down.
Next day we headed to Mont Dauphin , a ridiculously steep dry tooling line at around M11/12 . Giles was so close to nailing it when a hold broke . I used 2 off camera flashes at either end of the route on max power , the ambient was changing with some interesting cloud things going on in the background and I tried to include that in the image.
Next up was the Col de lauteret , a super windy spot for snowkiting and ski touring and we were going up to find some good locations to get shots of ski touring , the sunglasses and the tent . I had visualised beforehand the shots i was wanting to get and conditions were about perfect with just the right amount of cloud . My only drawback was not having my quadra and a large soft box with me , instead working with one speedlite and a small soft box.
The shot of the 3 skiers was taken using the 8-15 fisheye , a great lens that autofocuses really well but I rarely use it beyond 15mm . what makes the shot for me is the snow thrown up by Giles ski pole as he was moving past. The tent shot had a speedlite in the tent and a soft box camera right.
Once the shoot was over and we had all the shots in the bag i had hoped to get on the skis and have a few days working on my skiing but , manflu strikes at the most inconvenient times and i was laid up pretty much for the rest of the trip , but thats just how it goes some times .