Photographer Jamie Kripke missed the deadline to apply for a media pass to the International Ski Federation Alpine World Championships at Beaver Creek, CO. He attended the event anyway. His work on a couple of previous assignments (ex. Olympic gold medalist David Wise) for ESPN involved capturing motion sequences of athletes, so he had an idea of how he could make lemonade from lemons. PDN asked him to explain his process for creating this GIF, a creative visualization of the speed in the women’s Giant Slalom event. Here’s what Kripke told us:
I didn’t intentionally choose skiing as a subject I wanted to [use to test something new]. I just really wanted to see and shoot the race. But I had my cameras, and was determined to come away with one image that was somehow new and different. I had no idea how I was going do to that. Furthermore, there were TONS of photographers, most with way better access.
On the way to the race I had thought about doing some sort of sequence of a racer coming around a gate, but when I got to the venue, I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to get anywhere on the course. So I found the best spot I could, with the cleanest background, on a steep turn, and waited for the racers. I still didn’t feel like I had anything special.
The first woman (champion Anna Feninger) flew by and I shot her as she came into and out of the frame. But at 5fps my camera wasn’t fast enough to get enough frames to make a complete sequence of her. I shot more racers, one by one. After five or six had gone by, it occurred to me that I could do a time-lapse sequence made up of different racers, in different suits, from different countries. Also, in the Giant Slalom, they more or less follow the same line [through the gates], unlike in the Super G or Downhill, where higher speeds take the racers down different lines.
Back in my studio I picked my favorite frames, and had my retoucher put them together into a layered file with rough masks. But there still was no motion and the image felt flat. I started messing around with motion blur and some masking, and after a few days of work, got the image to a place that I liked.
The more I shoot, the more I realize that these “happy mistakes” aren’t really mistakes. They are a product of staying focused and following a path, even if you don’t know where it’s going.
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How I Got That Shot: Ty Cole for Metropolis Magazine