My Snowboarding Shoot in Colorado

(Above: Pro Snowboarder Eddie Spang getting some air. Click on it for a larger view)

My buddy Matt Kloskowski put a really cool trip together for me this past weekend. He knows I’ve been wanting to do a snowboarding shoot for some time now, but it’s kind of hard pulling that off in Florida. Luckily, we had a camera crew heading to Colorado to film a Kelby Training Online class with incredible Action Sports Photographer and instructor Tom Bol (link), so he arranged for us to fly out the day before the class taping and shoot some snowboarding with Tom and pro snowboarding insano man, the awesome Eddie Spang.

(Above: Here’s Eddie shredding the gnar gnar in 3 feet of virgin powder. OK, that’s the total extent of the snowboarding lingo I picked up during the shoot, right there in that one sentence. Click on it for a larger view. These shots all look better in the bigger views).

(Above: Here’s Eddie just after he shot down that mountain side and literally nailed his landing on the road right in front us. I just stood there with my jaw wide open. I did pull myself together enough to catch this shot— you can see us reflected in his goggles).

Here’s our host for Friday and Saturday, the very cool Tom Bol. I’ve met Tom numerous times, but this was the first time I really got to spend any time with Tom, and I have to say—what a terrific guy. One of the nicest, most thoughtful, and fun guys you’d ever want to meet.

I’ve never been in snow like this
Tom arranged to have Eddie available for us to shoot all day, and Tom had two really great guys assisting him (and us), Steve and Randy, who spent a decent amount of their day helping me through, and pulling me out of, post holes in 3+ feet of snow. I spent a fair amount of time with at least one leg buried so far down in the snow that I could barely get back out.

In the production shot above (photo by Adam Rohrmann), you can see me kneeling to get a shot just in the front of the small jump Eddie just launched off from.

(Above: Here’s the shot I was working on. You can see a little blue in the sky trying to peek though. Tom thought to swap jackets with Eddie, who had been wearing a dark jacket, so the images didn’t look so flat against the gray sky, and it really helped a lot. I took this shot with a 14-24mm Nikon lens on a Nikon D3s camera at 200 ISO, f/2.8).

Above: Here’s a screen cap of a text I sent to my wife.

(Above: A very cold version of me. Photo by Matt Kloskowski).

The weather…well…it kinda sucked
Unfortunately, the blue skies that are the norm in Colorado were nowhere to be found this day, as a large snow storm moved into the area, and it snowed steadily the entire time, against flat gray yucky skies. The 14°F cold weather (-10C) wasn’t really an issue—Matt and I both dressed really warm with layers of clothes, and thankfully it wasn’t windy at all. Plus, we were all laughing so much the whole day, I’m not sure we would have noticed the cold (especially when I would get stuck down in a post hole in the snow, which was fairly often).

Above: Here’s an iPhone photo of me in our rented 4-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe, taken by Matt, while we’re stuck in snow so deep it was up to our car hood. Matt did a masterful job of actually backtracking the SUV through the snow and getting us un-stuck and back out on the road.

We were at 12,000 feet high (3,657 meters) at this point, and it was so bright white outside you couldn’t see anything. It looked like those scenes from base camp at Everest with winds blowing snow everywhere. At this point, we just drove back down the mountain looking for a place for Eddie to snowboard.

Above: Here’s Steve (with the red back pack) and Tom in front of him climbing up the hill where we were going to shoot (Photo by Matt). They paved the way for Matt and I because we were sinking down in the snow like it was Quicksand.

Above: Here’s another production shot (photo by Adam Rorhmann), and you’re getting an over-the-shoulder view of me shooting with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (at f.2/8) and that’s Matt lying near the jump with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.

You can’t tell in the previous photo, but it was a struggle to get from where I’m shooting over to where Matt is shooting, just a few feet away (we swapped locations a few minutes after this shot was taken). You take a step or two, then you’d hit a hole and your leg would sink down three feet into the snow.

Above: Here’s the shot I got from that angle. Dealing with a solid gray sky, makes you get creative with your post processing, as I did here. The sun did try and make a brief cameo appearance late in the day, and we saw a glimpse of some patches of blue sky for a few minutes, but it just wasn’t going to give us that wonderful solid blue that Colorado is known for. By the way, we were in the great little town of Frisco, Colorado for this shoot.

Above: Here’s the shot Matt was getting with that 14-24mm. He took this one from the same position you saw him in earlier, but right after Tom switched jackets with Eddie. I really like this one Matt got a lot.

Bring out the strobes
Tom and his crew had brought two Elinchrom Ranger battery packs and heads out on the shoot, and so Tom asked if I wanted to shoot a little with the strobes, and of course, I was all over it. I had been shooting all the natural light stuff in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8, but for the strobes, I switched to Manual Mode and set my shutter speed at 1/200 of a second, and then I wanted to darken the ambient light, so I racked my Aperture out to f/22. That only made it about 1-stop darker, so I lowered the ISO from 200 to L1 (kind of the equivalent of ISO 100), and that got me the two-stop darker background you see here.

Above: We positioned one head with a deep throw reflector literally two feet behind where I had been shooting from (that hole in the ground you see in front of Randy is where I was shooting from), and then he put a second strobe behind the jump to catch the snow kicking up, which worked wonderfully well. Tom is fantastic at lighting stuff like this (I can’t wait to see his class).

Above: We had to aim the front light so it hit Eddie when he was in midair, and Tom knew the trick to figure out exactly where that spot was. He had Steve toss his jacket into the air about where Eddie would wind up (seen above) and I would take the shot to fire the strobe at just the right moment, then direct the crew where to position the light. It only took a flying coat or two to nail it down.

For the shot you see above, I swapped places, and lenses with Matt, but I actually shot from just in front of the ramp, rather than beside it where Matt was, to get this angle. You only get get to take one shot because you’re shooting flash, so I panned with Eddie as I saw him coming down the mountain, and then pressed the shutter just after he hit the ramp—still panning with him as the flash fired.

Above: After we shot some strobe stuff, the sun started to peak out so I switched back to shooting natural light. Two friends of Eddie’s showed up, and I got this shot of Eddie’s friend Erin from that same vantage point, shot at 14mm, at f/2.8 and cropped using my Cinematic Cropping technique (link). This is really one you have to click on to see the larger view.

A Real Learning Experience
This was my first time shooting anything like this, and I really learned a lot. Like anything else in photography, it takes a lot of practice to get good at it, and a willingness to do what it takes to get the shot (Tom SO has that part down. He’s a mad man, and will go to unbelievable lengths to get the shot). I can’t wait to try it again. Ya know, when it’s a bit warmer.

Above: Here’s one last shot of Eddie, from my position by the ramp. I have to tell you, I was really amazed at not only what Eddie could do, but his physical endurance. Every time he shot down the mountain, he had to climb all the way back up to do it all over again. It was really tough in that deep of snow, but he was able to do it again and again and again, non-stop for hours on end.

More photos from the shoot on my Facebook Page
I’m posting a few more images from the shoot on my Facebook page. Here’s the link.

I love this stuff!
I really want to thank Matt for making this whole thing happen. Matt is a tremendously fun guy to do just about anything with, but sharing a trip like this with him is really special. Also, my thanks to Tom Bol for making sure it all came together, and to his assistants Steve and Randy who were great guys, loads of laughs, and incredibly helpful.

Despite the lack of blue sky, it was a really memorable trip, shooting in the show with an old friend, and some new ones. I know I’m very blessed to get to do stuff like this, and I’m very thankful, too!

    1. Shawn, thanks for noticing. I have started actually reading the blog before I post. I think John caught on to my “copy and paste” tactic. I mean “awesome, awesome, awesome”, that could fit any of Scotts blog posts!
      I’m not whining (rule #1) but I have been sick for a few days. Check back in 24hrs. 8-)

      1. Ken:

        No Copy and Paste…I type out my comments. I just had a three minute head start on everyone else reading (check the times on the blog post and my reply)! Don’t worry, your top spot is safe. I will cede the crown tomorrow, I’m sure.


      2. Yeah, it’s fun to watch, I am sure in 5 years or so you and Scott will still be the “Man” ‘s. and I am glad you responded because I know “Kick Butt” is 2 t’s but commenting on a phone is not the best way to comment (for me). Until then, Gooo Team Ken…….

  1. Scott:

    Going thru all of the pictures again, I really have to say that you really nailed these shots. The pano shot of Erin and the night shot of Eddie are two standouts to me. Lighting, composition and detail are spot on.

    Were you shooting with your glasses off (looks like it from the picture that Matt took)? I know I have a difficult time with water spots on my glasses too, but I couldn’t see a thing without them!

    I’ll head over to Facebook now and check out the other shots!


    1. Hi John:
      I wound up taking them on/off a lot because of the facemask I was wearing. Fairly often, it would fog up my glasses so much, I couldn’t see, so I’d have to pull the mask down for a while, which pretty much defeated the purpose of having it at all.

      If I did this more often, I’d have to come up with a better solution—one that would keep my face warm, but not fog up my glasses. Luckily, I’m back in Florida, where it’s blue skies and a high of 83° degrees. :)


      1. FYI, I have tried all the sprays and none really work. you can get prescription goggles for about 200 bucks. i love mine and it takes care of the fogging b/c you don’t have the xtra layer of glass. If you going to do much snow work it is a really good investment.

    2. Hi Scott,

      I have to wear reading glasses, which are +1.75 diopter. However, when shooting with my D700, I set the diopter on the viewfinder to match my eyes, and thus don’t have to wear glasses while shooting.

      Mind you, I still have to put the glasses back on when I check the results on the LCD, so it’s an on-off situation like Scott has. I refuse to have my eyes corrected in at one of these laser eye clinics, in case of an error or infection. You only got one set of eyeballs.

      Superb shots and a great post!

      By the way Scott… perhaps invest in a pair of MSR (Mountain Safety Research) Evo Ascent 22 snowshoes, and you will never get that
      feeling again! The “shoes” have a metal tab that flips up behind the boots for ascending really steep mountain pitches. I’ve had mine for years, hiking in the Adirondak High Peaks region of upstate NY… and they work great!

      Frederic in Montréal

      1. Here’s a link to the snow shoes I recommend. (Casacade Designes makes them, however there web link is down)

        I’ve used them in a winter camping expeditions in Northern Quebec where the temps plunged to -40F. Made of a tough plastic, they shed snow and frozen ice easily, and are very light. They also feature crampons and “tiger” teeth for walking on icy frozen lakes.

  2. Very awesome Scott… And thanks for the clarification on the production shot with the strobes, I could SWEAR it was you in the yellow coat!!!

    In an unrelated note, your new show starts tomorrow or next week? (and where can I watch it?)


  3. I think I can speak for Tom, Steve, and Randy and Adam in saying that having Scott there was a blast! He may be thanking us for helping make this happen, but anyone who’s ever watched him teach or spent any time with him, knows that he’ll keep you laughing the whole time. And he did ;)

    Stories that didn’t make it to this blog post, but you’ll have to ask about some time if you ever catch us at a seminar or workshop:
    • “Pants on the ground”
    • How our SUV got stuck in 3 feet of snow in the first place (and why Tom’s truck wasn’t)
    • Green and white paint don’t mix
    • The Green Hornet, Bumble Bee, and Raptor claw
    • Soft Pretzels for lunch? Really?
    • What happens when we get tired?
    • What Eddie really means when he says “The ramp is right at the end of the street I live on”


    Thanks Scott, Tom, Randy, Steve and Adam!

    1. The “Matt Decoder” ring:

      (1) I bought Ski pants but didn’t realize you should also buy suspenders. My pants would fall down about every 1 to 2 minutes. It drove me crazy, but thankfully I had jeans on under them, or it would have burned Matt and Tom’s retinas.
      (2) Matt hadn’t considered whether the parking lot at 12,000 feet had been snow plowed or not. It was not.
      (3) Matt slid into a green pole, with our white SUV, leaving incriminating marks.
      (4) These were our walkie-talkie handles. Matt was Raptor Claw. I have no idea why.
      (5) Only when you’re on a strict diet to do you find the one restaurant that serves salty soft-pretzels the size of a steering wheel as an appetizer. Matt of course, had one. I had a grilled chicken salad. Uggh!
      (6) When Matt gets tired, he starts talking like Scatman Crothers.
      (7) That means, it’s actually blocks and blocks away, trudging through 3 feet deep of snow. When we finally got there, I almost beat Eddie to death with my camera. ;-)

      Make sure you ask Matt about turning the now blemished rental car back in. :)


      1. Scott:

        I’m surprised you guys could stop laughing long enough to take some pictures! :D :D

        I hope Matt isn’t driving to Orlando for PSW. Sounds like he’s dangerous behind the wheel! If you do a snowboard shoot some other time, bring Dave Cross along to drive. I hear they get a little bit of snow in Canada, so he may have more experience with it. :)


      2. Technically you don’t need suspenders for ski pants, depending on what you buy. I think mine are more snowboard pants, but they have a zipper/snap and I can tighten them on the sides. I normally wear long underwear and a pair of lounge pants underneath. Jeans get too stiff.

    1. Hi Michelle: I let Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 do most of the work. I used their Bleach Bypass preset for the first shot (and that’s pretty much it on that one), and then for the others I used the “Tonal Contrast” preset, but then I only applied the contrast where I wanted it, by hiding the layer it creates behind a black layer mask, and then painting in white where I wanted the effect revealed. I wish I could tell you more, but that’s pretty much all I did, with the exception of cranking up the Exposure a bit for some of the shots.

      Hope that helps. :)


      1. Thanks for the info! I actually shot a bunch of snowboarding shots on Saturday as well (although I was at Solvista in Granby, CO), but the sky was the same. :). I’m always looking for creative ways to learn to process with that boring type of sky.

  4. Very cool shots guys! Tom’s classes from Moab on Kelby Training are great, so I’m looking forward to this one as well. I’m sure I’ll never have the chance to shoot snowboarding since I live in South Texas, but I like seeing the photos of it.

    1. I’m always my own worst critic, and I’m sure that’s the case with most of us. Scott, I know you’re disappointed you didn’t get a blue sky, but when I look at these shots, I don’t at all think that any of them are lacking because the sky wasn’t blue. Had you not mentioned it, I wouldn’t of even thought about it. With landscape shots I would notice it, but with shots like these I’m more concerned with the action of the subject and all the bits of snow he’s kicking up, and they look great.

  5. Hey Scott,

    I live in California, and ski at Kirkwood ski resort. I really think you, Matt and the crew should come out here asap. I can hook you up with some of the best ski’ers in the Tahoe area and you guys could have a hay day (not a farm related term) out here. You guys could stay at my house. My wife is really cool and could whip up us some good vittles!! Let me know when you want to come.

    Looking forward to it,


  6. OMG – how cool! You were literally probably a peak or two over from where I did my “Keystone” shoot on snow mobile adventures last month! I had stayed in Keystone for the week, but made it over to Frisco on New years Day to shoot a one day thing there. Was even colder then (-19), and blowing snow made for almost blizzard conditions. But, like yours, blue skies popped out sporadically! So glad your return trip was this much fun as the LR seminar was likely one you wanted to forget (and I suspect Tom was a much better host!) :-)

    Great shots and stories – esp Raptor Claw!

  7. Very nice to see your shots Scott.

    I have shot some skiing for about and hour only once but I would LOVE to do it again.

    To bad the weather was so bad hope you get another chance with better weather. I was blessed with better weather and shot late in the day so the light was not bad.

    Just wish I had some agreement with a rider or two. I did not but I just had to try and make the best of it. Got a ok to shoot pictures of some guys I met on the mountain and got a few shots of.

    Have a look if you want:

    Seeing your post just makes we wont to go shoot it again :)

  8. Hey great shots again. Scott, I’m just wondering how you get the focus right on these shots. Do you prefocus on something still before?

    I live in Switzerland and we have decent snow right now. I should definitely try to get some ski and snowboard shots.


    1. Hi Nicolas:
      I didn’t pre focus—I panned with him as he was coming down the hill, and we he got to the jump I would start shooting and ci would continue to pan with him until he landed. :)


  9. Great shots makes me jealous that i didn’t make it out to colorado this winter, i try and head out from the UK every winter as the snow is so much better than Europe – oh and the people are generally nicer.

    You can tell your are used to warmer climates with the amount of clothes you had one, i bet the locals looked at you strange while they are wearing half as much :)

    Did you go for the stereotypical – but very cool, sequesnce shots ? Like this one taken with a D90 or for much better examples the ones by Chase Jarvis and a D3s like you :)

  10. Those are some great shots there. Personally I did not like the flash shot much, it could be me. The natural light one are fantastic.

    Both the images above bring out the strobes are very good. Bring out the action.

    Are all the day ones shot with 200 iso and not more.

    More snowboarding shoots please.

  11. Man,
    These shots are great!
    It must be nice going back to Florida after being cold in Colorado.
    I like the picture taken with strobes… :)
    It makes the colors pop out more.
    Hope you get another chance to shoot in the snow again.

    Question: Did the snow damage your camera at all, since it is water and you said it heavily snowed so how did you protect your camera from that?

    Really Awesome Pictures :)
    Very Inspiring

    -Ritvik :)

    1. Hi Ritvik:
      The Nikon D3s, and a number of Nikon DSLR bodies are sealed so while they’re not technically waterproof, they’re very water resistant, so you can shoot in rainy conditions without rain gear, as long as it’s not for four hours straight (like a football game), even though I see guys do it all the time.

      I had lots of snow on ,y camera—it even got dipped in the snow once when I stepped into a post hole, and you just pat the lens and body dry, and everything’s fine.


      1. Wow that’s amazing, I thought you would need those big waterproof covers to protect the camera…
        Man, technology just keeps getting better

  12. My Man Scott!!

    I saw that first shot yesterday from your facebook group and was excited to come and see the rest of the shots here this morning. A great read with your article as well (as always); it took me into that day. Right now I’m in the Bahamas (until mid week) but the article read so beautifully and made me feel as if I were there. I almost looked outside to see if snow was on the floor, but naww no need for that, the heat you feel from the first step of walking to the window is ridiculous.

    Now about these images.

    I’m glad you got the chance to go out there and shoot; I’ve always wanted to do it as well, still not sure when I would have the time to but it will happen. I bet you had a blast because I do every time I shot skateboarders and other boarders. The lifestyle is amazing.

    The first shot when I saw it, out of all respect, I saw Scott’s composition and the other Scott’s (from Jarvis inc.) post-processing style. I’m glad you did that though, show your readers it’s all about the location you are shooting in and what you do with the image/ what you can do what the image that really makes the image what it becomes (take a breather).

    Then I looked down the article (3rd image upwards from the bottom) when you pulled the strobe out, I saw not only your amazing composition again but I felt that your lighting Style and colors from post as well. I was like oh yeah baby that’s Scott K’s yellow. haha if someone had put that image out there on a table of a million images (maybe 100) I would have said okay that’s Scott’s photograph because….

    It would be cool to see a ton of these images from other areas that are too be photographed as well; I’m glad you did these. Keep on hustlin’ and I will; you’re the reason why I started hustlin’ in the first place!!

    Much love Scott, ya boy!

    DT. Tha Hustla
    Nassau, Bahamas | Miami, Florida

  13. Scott,

    Super shots! I especially like the shot of Eddie grabbing his board (immediately above your text screen grab). As for constantly sinking in the snow, you could save yourselves a pile of trouble next time by using snowshoes. They are lightweight, VERY easy to use — if you can walk, you can snowshoe — and will keep you from sinking thigh-deep in snow. Take it from somebody who lives through five months of the year in snow (UGH!). :-)

    Trev J.

  14. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in a couple of workshops with Tom Bol. Energetic doesn’t quite begin to describe him. I think he wakes up going full speed. Once he has his morning coffee, he jumps to warp speed. If any of you ever have the opportunity to work with Tom, I would highly recommend it. He is a lot of fun to be around. And as Scott says, he’s one terrific guy.

  15. Beautiful work Scott!

    I was excited when Kloskowski let the cat out of the bag last week on his blog about what you were going to be doing this past weekend. I knew you were going to nail it!

    Dont forget to hit me up about coming to Memphis, lets do this!

    1. Scott hasn’t taken you up on that offer yet? My offer to take his place still stands, ha ha. I may be no Scott Kelby, but I’d pick up the tab for a good meal before or after the game (I’d offer more, but that would be about all I could afford). Being a Rockets fan, I’m definitely a fan of Shane Battier. I was sad to see him traded back to the Grizzlies but now I would have even more of a reason to want to shoot a Grizzlies game.

      1. Well, it remains to be seen whether or not having Thabeet is good for anything other than singing along to the Go Gos. :) The Rockets did need a big man, but his career stats thus far don’t look too promising. I’m sure Olajuwon will do some offseason work with him, and perhaps he’ll start improving.

  16. Uh… snowboard = snow = very cold, but great pics. How about next year trying the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards? But with all the scrambling and jostling you could forget being on the sidelines at a football game. Talk about spontaneous glamor photos. And no ref rear ends.

  17. Incredible photos Scott. I have a friend who is way better at snow boarding than me and he can get about 10,15′ of air. Never tried shooting him though. ;) One question, how did you protect your camera and lenses from snow and moisture? Thanks

    1. Hey Grant. We really didn’t. My lenses were damp most of the time. Most of the higher end model cameras and lenses for Nikon and Canon are sealed. It doesn’t mean that you should dunk them in water, but they can withstand some mildly wet weather.


      1. Thanks Matt,
        Just the other day, I banged my 24mm without a filter and… scratch! :( Yeah, I should’ve known better. Guess I’ll just remeber next time.

  18. I’m glad you had fun. Even as much as I’m averse to cold and show, I think I would’ve also had fun during the actual shoot. It would’ve been the rest of the day trudging through the cold & snow that would make me miserable. Well, that and having my pants fall down all the time.

  19. I have a question for Scott or Matt, Would an SB-900 have the reach and power to freeze the action like the Elinchrom Flash?

    You guys were just over the pass from me and shooting photos on a power day, very impressed, and impressed the snowboarder showed up! My mind goes something like this, photos, ski powder, photos, ski powder… ahh I will see you guys later!

  20. Hey Scott,
    3 feet of snow? Anyone call you numb n….s? I imagine snow shoes would have made getting around a little easier. Also, did you have any altitude sickness?

  21. Hi Scott,

    A couple of questions if I may.

    1. How well did the Elinchrom Ranger battery packs hold up in the cold weather before that units died? I visited Elinchrom’s web site and found nothing about the operating range of temperature these units will work under.

    2. What kind of wireless link did you use from cam to power pack – a Pocket Wizard perhaps?

    Merci bien… many thanks once again for the superb post.

    Frederic in Montréal

    1. Hi Frederic:
      (1) We only shot a handful of shots with the strobe (literally, probably 6 at best), so we never got near draining the battery.

      (2) We used an Elinchrom Skyport as our wireless trigger.



  22. Hi Scott,

    These photographs are so cool, and I love this blog (first time leaving a comment). I wish I would have known you were coming…I’d a picked you guys up and driven you up there myself. Matt wouldn’t have mixed green and white paint!

    Anyway, you know why you got blah skies right? Mother Nature and the ski industry have one of those shady back room deals. Blue skies are prevalent Monday-Friday only. Once the weekend comes, a storm rolls in and dumps a bunch of snow and makes for crappy skies. It’s been this way ALL Winter. It’s great for the folks who ski, not so much for those of us who can’t afford it (because we spend all our money on camera equipment). Today being Monday, it was 54 degrees in Denver with blue skies.

  23. Scott & Matt…Great shots in Colorado! My favs are the ones at night..more mood and clouds and snow pop!!! I learned a ton from watching you shoot on the sidelines this year Scott..then had the chance to be on the 50 yard line at Lambeau Field for the “Return to Titletown” celebration with our Superbowl Packers. I quized the heck out the pros and shot til the memory cards were full that day. Thanks for all the help and insight!!!

  24. What a great post and fantastic pictures…, considering I hate the snow (we had more then our fair share in Boston this season), you managed to make it sound fun and appealing! Wish I was there, I would have turn up with my anti fog snorkeling mask…but maybe… leaving my swim flippers home though!:)

  25. Looks like you guys had an absolute blast!!! Superb images; lovin’ the one at the top of the post.

    Like Dave C said, it’s great to read your ‘post shoot reports’ hearing what went on…warts and all :)


  26. Hey,
    Those shots you guys got were awesome but I missed where you guys were in the state. Im looking to do a little riding out there in march and ive been off the beaten trail as well. I ask because i saw you guys hiking, and thats brutal especially after a fresh dumping of the pow pow.

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