2 Photos - Sep 11, 2011
Photo: Hi everyone, here's Wanaka-based +Josiah Wells on his winning run of the 2011 North Face Free Ski Open at Snow Park, New Zealand.

This is my first attempt at a composite action shot. I've seen and admired many in the past, but never really had the opportunity to create one myself. Then just over a week ago I attended the North Face Free Ski Open at nearby Snow Park with +Stefan Haworth and +Scott Kennedy , and with +MILES HOLDEN also in attendance doing some amazing stuff with everything from a 15mm fisheye to a 600mm super-telephoto.

I'd primarily gone along to test Canon's new EF 8-15mm Fisheye lens on an EOS 1D Mark IV body I'd borrowed from my friend Blair. I really wanted Stefan and Scott to have a go on the lens during the event but increasing wind saw the schedule compressed and before I realised it we were running out of time with only a couple of runs remaining. I handed the 8-15mm over to Stefan (who's photos you'll see in my upcoming review of the lens along with in his own blog next week), and switched to an EF 17-40mm - a lens I previously considered to be quite wide until this point.

Both Stefan and Miles had been extolling the virtues of shooting into the Sun with a small aperture to generate a nice starburst effect, so I closed the 17-40mm down to f16. I set the shutter speed to 1/2000 in Manual and had to boost the sensitivity up to 800 ISO to balance the exposure. I pre-focused on the point where I thought the skiier would be and set the drive to Continuous High, at which point the 1D Mark IV rattles-off 10fps. All I had to do then was to wait for the next competitor to sail past.

As luck would have it, I was setup just in time to catch the final run of Jossi Wells as he performed this amazing move. I pressed the shutter as I heard the announcer saying he'd completed the previous jump and didn't let go until I was sure he was gone.

As I replayed the images I realised I had some ideal action for a composite shot. I wasn't sure how to go about the process, so loaded 12 images (representing about 1.2 seconds of action) into Photoshop as a single layered file. I then roughly cut-out Jossi in each frame with a feathered edge and let them sit atop the first image in the sequence.

To my surprise it actually looked ok, but I noticed my rough cut-outs were overlapping previous frames with clumps of sky. One lazy solution was to hide every other frame and effectively show 5fps. The gaps between each frame were sufficiently big for no overlap. But where's the challenge in that?

So I went back and more carefully cut-out each image of Jossi, which turned out to be surprisingly easy against the plain sky using the magic wand tool. And bingo, there's the final result. A few dust marks cloned-out and I was done.

My first composite action shot. I hope you like it. I think I could get into this...Photo: Skydive over Queenstown. Taken with GoPro HD Hero 2