On the Piste in Black and White

It’s been a great winter for images and I’ve been very fortunate to be at the very heart of it – skiing in the Alps for the best part of a fortnight during what many are describing as the best winter for 40 years.

The current unseasonably warm weather in the UK seems to be indicating winter is over. And so it’s now time, from this blog’s perspective, to leave winter behind; but not before two final posts celebrating Black and White photography. Some of the images I captured in the Alps have certainly suited conversion to Black and White and it’s been exciting for me to get stuck into B&W output that has always been my favourite medium.

Today’s post concentrates on images from the Ski Pistes.

Piste watching from the Coffee Break - click to enlarge

For me, B&W is all about contrast, line and shape. Shooting into the light helps that. Highlights are bright, shadows are deep. Taken to extremes, solid blacks and blown highlights have long been the fashionable trademarks of some of the most respected photographers, and were very much in vogue in the 1970s and 80s when I was a keen B&W developer and printer. B&W tolerates these traits whereas colour doesn’t.

Follow the leader - click to enlarge

You might say that, on one level, the B&W medium is a bit of a wild child (breaking many of the rules) compared to colour’s perfectly behaved sibling.  But that is a gross over-simplification.

Can you see it? - click to enlarge

On a flat-light day with mist, people are easy to isolate from the background – there is no background!

Sometimes it’s not the skiers that are the picture. When the wind blows, the snow is always on the move, shifting and drifting across the piste, redefining the landcape. Just like the sand in the desert.

Spindrift - click to enlarge

Fleeting light at Schwarzsee, Zermatt - click to enlarge

There are days like this when you have to catch the light – it doesn’t last long.

But when the light is stable and you find ‘that spot’ looking up a piste into the light, then through a long lens – hand held – pick your focus, set both AF and shutter mode to continuous and press. And hope you catch that moment when the skiers perform that bit of magic choreography, and a fine mist of snow-plume hangs in the air. 1 in 30 frames might just turn up trumps! Here’s one I enjoyed.

Rush hour on 'White Hare' - click to enlarge

On Thursday it will be Mountainscapes, as seen from the ski slopes. Don’t miss that final shoot.

About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'.
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8 Responses to On the Piste in Black and White

  1. Ginnie says:

    Oh yes! I so agree with everything you have written here. And that last image is pur magic!


    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ginnie, I appreciate that. That last one is from Zermatt, White Hare – a red run down from Hohtalli. Everyone rushes out of the cable car at the top and tries to get away in the first rush. So lower down all the skiers arrive in pulses. Then for a few minutes it all quietens down until the next ‘rush hour’!


  2. Len Saltiel says:

    Excellent write-up Andy and great images (that last one is the best). Don’t give up on winter yet. We have had a historic winter here in CT – a huge snowfall in October and almost no snow since with really warm temperatures. I thought winter was done but now the forecast is for lots of snow later this week. Weird year…


  3. Adam Allegro says:

    Wonderful!! I dig all the shots but really like that “Spindrift”! I have a special place in my heart for black and white photography! Lovely writeup and shots. I’m a bit sad winter is ending…


  4. Cool! I was just at Sugarloaf mtn in Maine this weekend. Like Adam, I also really like the “Spindrift” shot best.


  5. Wow excellent series of shots Andy.


  6. Jimi Jones says:

    Timeless photos here Andy! You’ve really captured the atmosphere with these B&W shots. Hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll go with Fleeting light at Schwarzsee, Zermatt. Very nice work, man.


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