In the new Mountain Life Blue Mountains Photo Issue we asked several of our regular photographers to pick a
handful of their finest shots, and to tell the stories behind them. Here, Marc Landry sheds light from behind the lens.
The real story behind this shot is about the mount I made that allowed me to strap my full-frame Nikon D4 to Taylor Rowlands’ chest and fire it off trailside via Pocket Wizard. I am 300 feet back in the bush tripping the shutter on this. It was exceedingly dark in this forest, with barely enough natural light to make an exposure. I wanted to convey some motion and dragged the shutter as slow as 1/30th of a second on this one. Even at that exposure, I was at ISO 18,102, which is out of bounds even for my mighty D4. Sometimes you have to push your gear past the in-spec limit to get the shot.
“Sometimes you have to push your gear past the in-spec limit to get the shot.”
When you shoot long enough it does become a job. A great job, but a job no less. Some gigs are amazing and allow you to be creative and explore angles and options with the athletes you’re working with. Other times you are restricted to such a tight composition that it hurts you to press the shutter and put your name on it. No matter the job I am on, I always try to allow for extra time for the athlete and me to bang out a few, for us. Usually it’s at the end of the shoot, right before we hit a pub and catch up. That’s the fun part you keep for yourself, the part that reminds you why you do it. That shot we get on our own predictably ends up being the one the client wants in the end.
When I started shooting, I used to try this pan technique quite a bit. This was more about me struggling to freeze action with strobes than understanding what makes a successful pan shot. I don’t profess to be the pan-master (that’s Gary Perkin) but I have tried to hone this skill over the years. There is a lot that goes into a solid pan and how you realize the end image depends greatly on your settings as well as the speed of the subject. Just because you can get down to 1/4th doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice to tell the story. The motion needs to have context. Shooting events is a great place to figure it out. You’ll need as many passes and trials as you can to sort out how much motion blur you want to convey in your shot. The brightness of your foreground and background is also a big determining factor in how far you can push it.
It’s all about the people for me. The highs and lows of competition are what drew me to sports photography. You’re a team out there and you both need to be fuelled for it to be a killer shot. When it clicks, it’s memorable for the whole crew behind the shot. Photographers and athletes sometimes have different ideas about what makes the image a success but when the two concepts align, that’s when you get the money shot. I’ve been blessed to spend some super rad days in the forest with some of the best people in the world. Sid Slotegraaf is one of those amazing people, seen here at Claude LaRue’s home track.
I’ve always felt an image should have only one subject and that my job as the photographer is to make it clear to the viewer what that subject is. Sometimes, however, you need to let them wander the frame and see the story unfold. Local legend Matt Konings chilling on the deck watching his roommate Mike Dionne brings me back to that afternoon in their yard. I was obviously more concerned about getting Matt in the frame then the rest of Mike’s tire. I’m OK with that ‘cause Matt looking on is what makes this shot for me.
From the new Mountain Life Blue Mountains Spring Photo issue. Available now. Read more about what’s in the issue, check the online edition here or pick up a free print copy at Blue Mountain Resort and Blue Mountain Village; various locations in the Georgian Bay/Blue Mountains/Barrie/GTA region including Loblaws, Foodland, Valu-Mart, Squire Johns, The Barn Co-op, Scenic Caves, Kamikaze, all MEC Stores, Corbetts Oakville, Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Scandinave Spa,and elsewhere.