Backcountry Skiing Photography Tips – Michael Kennedy


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 21, 2014      

Michael Kennedy

Mark Zitelli, McClure Pass backcountry, April 2014. Panasonic Lumix LX7.

Mark Zitelli, McClure Pass backcountry, April 2014. Panasonic Lumix LX7. Here at WildSnow.com we enjoy the more subtle toned “storm shots” along with the hyper-real style of photography. Both types of images are represented here, thanks to Michael. Click all images for higher quality or larger versions.

Editor’s note. One of my favorite people in the “old guard” crowd is Michael Kennedy: former owner and publisher of Climbing Magazine, prolific alpinist and backcountry skier. Michael is also an accomplished photographer who’s been published thousands of times. We’ve kept this post running over the years, updated every so often to keep pace with the rapidly changing world of photography. I recently asked Michael for an update on what he’s using for cameras:

Lou,
I’ve used the Canon G series cameras quite a bit since I went digital, and now use the Panasonic Lumix LX7 for my smaller camera. I really like the accessory Panasonic electronic viewfinder; expensive and bulky but it’s easier to compose and frame the shot and allows me to use the camera in bright sunlight. The Lumix LX7 isn’t the smallest or lightest pocket camera but it has very good image quality and provides all the control you need for backcountry skiing photos. I carry my smaller cameras in a belt pack so they’re easy to get to, always a key thing.

For a digital SLR, I use the Canon Rebel T1i. The image quality is very good, reasonably fast motor drive, cleaner and bigger image files than the pocket cameras.

For most backcountry skiing use I carry a single lens, the Canon 17-85 zoom (28-135 equivalent); I’ve also got the Canon 10-22 zoom (16-35 equivalent) and will carry that when I’m feeling ambitious, photography-wise. I’ve got a couple other lenses that I use closer to home (fast primes) but the zooms are the way to go most of the time.

Julie Kennedy, McClure Pass backcountry. Panasonic Lumix LX7.

Julie Kennedy, McClure Pass backcountry. Panasonic Lumix LX7.

I use a Lowe topload-type of case with a chest harness for the Rebel. Super accessible so you can whip the camera out when you need to. I’ve experimented with using the case on a pack belt, but for skiing I find it interferes with my leg movement too much. This is a real individual thing so you need to figure out what works for you.

The most important thing is to have the camera instantly accessible when backcountry skiing—when it’s in the pack on your back you lose too many shots.

The downside of digital is the learning curve and time for post-processing—to really get the most out of your files you have to dive deep into Photoshop. I shoot everything in RAW—that’s a whole other topic.

My one most important tip: Shoot no matter what – good light, bad light, stormy days and clear days. I’m amazed sometimes when I get something really good in bad weather or terrible conditions. (More WildSnow.com photography information and tips.)

See Ya, MK

Lee Bowers, Marble Peak. Canon G5, about 80mm (35mm equivalent). Click image to enlarge.

Lee Bowers, Colorado. Canon G5, about 80mm (35mm equivalent). Click image to enlarge.

Jeff Maus, West Elk Mountains backcountry skiing. Click image to enlarge.

Jeff Maus, West Elk Mountains backcountry skiing. Click image to enlarge.

Kim Spence, West Elk Mountains.

Kim Spence, West Elk Mountains.

Jeff Hollenbaugh, McClure Pass backcountry.

Jeff Hollenbaugh, McClure Pass backcountry. Click to enlarge.

Comments

5 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing Photography Tips – Michael Kennedy”

  1. Scott Nelson August 21st, 2014 2:31 pm

    Beautiful photos as always. What do you use as far as CPU and storage for photo processing, especially with RAW images?

  2. Michael Kennedy August 22nd, 2014 8:10 am

    I run Mac desktop with a couple largish monitors. Nothing fancy. Three internal hard drives—one main drive, a second to store old scans and digital image files, the third backs up the other two (hourly via Time Machine). I also use a couple of external drives for additional backup.

    When I head out of town for an extended period, I’ll make sure the external drives are current, shut everything down, then store the external drives in a separate locations for security against theft, fire, etc. If I think I’ll need to access old files when traveling I’ll bring one of the external drives with me and use that to backup my laptop as well.

    Basically I end up with of all my digital photo files, programs, data, documents, etc. on four or five different drives. If one drive fails, I should be able to recover from one of the other drives.

    Hard drives are basically pretty inexpensive and the system described above simple to set up (on the Mac). An improvement would be to add yet another external drive, back up periodically (say once a month), and store that drive in a safe deposit box. A little cumbersome but very secure, especially for archival files.

    Cloud storage for additional backups may be worthwhile but I haven’t explored that subject in depth.

  3. J.L August 22nd, 2014 4:28 pm

    Hi,

    Great Photos! What software or program do you recommend for copyright protection or watermarks for photos?

    Thank you,

    J.L

  4. Lou Dawson 2 August 22nd, 2014 5:00 pm

    J.L, the way we do it here at WildSnow is we use Photoshop, with an automated “action” we created that does it in seconds. Placing the watermark is just part of a set of about a half dozen things we do to each photo with the automated “action.” Picassa also has a functional watermarking option I’ve used, as does most other photo software, if by no other mains than simply placing text of your choice on the photo. I know Michael uses Pshop so I’m pretty sure he does his watermark with same. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson 2 August 22nd, 2014 5:13 pm

    For what it’s worth, we just went lowbrow and ordered a Chromebook, am hoping we can laugh at both Microsoft and Apple, but I think the chances are 50/50 we’ll be able to do all we need to do. Might be good for traveling though, cheap with long battery life. In my case, I run a pretty complex computing environment, with everything from website production software to video editing, along with a ton of odds and ends. I’ll be surprised if Chromebook will do it for me, but Lisa has a simpler setup and it might work for her. Should be interesting.

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  Your Comments

  • Lou Dawson 2: You think that thing could ever happen? Sounds pretty far fetched at this p...
  • Jim Milstein: Could be, Lou, but Red doesn't believe in global warming, so would not be c...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jim, you're probably right along with the other locals, 10,300 feet in Col...
  • Hacksaw: Colorado First Tracks Heliskiing worked out of Marble back in the day.pack...
  • Jim Milstein: This reminds me of the ill-starred Village at Wolf Creek, which we locals a...
  • John Coulter: I started working construction on 1972 when I graduated from high school in...
  • Brian Lindahl: It looks like the 20L model can't use the refillable cannister. The cannist...
  • Patrick: well for gosh sakes, and thank gawrsh, you've got some Colorado back-countr...
  • Mitch R.: What GPS app for iPhone do you use?...
  • Rick: More winter Denali ascents ... http://www.adn.com/uncategorized/article/win...
  • Martin: For my Canon DSLR I have a 3rd party charger that can charge from USB, 12V ...
  • See: I’ve been playing around with a “6000 mAh Lithium jump starter.” Results so...
  • Louie III: Yeah, luckily the A7 can charge via the micro-usb port on the camera. Unfor...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Caspar, Louie mentioned to me that he was charging the camera with USB and ...
  • Caspar: Hey, how did the Sony a7 charge? With an external AC charger for the batter...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks Mattia, a report here would be valuable. I'd imagine you'll have suc...
  • Mat: Thanks for the reply Lou, I think that the easiest think I can do is to ...
  • XXX_er: "An insider also told me that the litigious nature of the U.S. as opposed t...
  • Dominik: Mattia, Just from curiosity - what size khion do you own? Dominik...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Mat, you are not the first to share with me that their European Khion had a...
  • Mike Marolt: JW had a massive influence on my brother and I. He set the benchmark of wh...
  • Mat: HI Lou, thank for your post, I'm an italian skier and I own a pair of Khio...
  • Wookie: does anybody make climbing shoes that cover the ankle anymore? They used to...
  • ptor: Lou...Just like an avalanche death (another one in Chile yesterday), the so...
  • See: Granted, the chemical stuff tastes pretty foul....
  • See: In my experience you need to put mineral sunscreen on thick, reapply freque...
  • Scott S Allen: I think that is old school coolness to avoid the last steps to a summit and...
  • Bard: Thanks Jonathan and Lou! "Shadow" is one of my favorites. Cassin in winter ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Ptor, your link was too harsh and polemic for so soon after the Nice attack...
  • Louie III: Wow this is really cool! Really interesting reading about the changes to th...

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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