Let’s face it, very few of us have kite photos that reflect the stoke and essence of the experience. Most of us have a pretty feeble collection at best. We’re here to change that! We partnered with North Carolina local, Charles Ash who has been providing professional photo and video services for extreme sports for over 18 years. His work has been featured in countless kite magazines and online videos. Whether you’re a total newbie, or seasoned hobbyist, these tips will have you upping your photography game soon enough. **Know your camera:** Get familiar with your camera and know where settings are so that they can easily and quickly be changed. Many shots are missed due to fumbling through the camera settings. It’s best to pre-set your shot, i.e. exposure, shutter and ISO prior to shooting. This will help get your exposure closer to what it should be for the shot and allow for minor changes that don’t take as much time to change. **Prepare beforehand:** For spectacular photos, treat it like a photo shoot opposed to just taking a few snaps on the fly. Talk with your rider about what exactly what they will be doing and have them designate a specific area where the action will take place and ultimately where you will take the shot. Take some test shots in the area that the activity is going to take place. With the test shots; be aware of your light source, the sun, keeping it behind you to effectively light your subject, otherwise you’ll get a silhouette or back lit type shot. Early morning and just before dusk provide the best lighting conditions.
This image of Dimitri shows metering and setting exposure for the subject not the shade. Medium to low shutter speed, higher aperture, Interesting composition done in the shot. **Tripod Shooting:** Using a tripod will allow smoother tracking of your subject and provide a sharper image by eliminating any unwanted shaking or equipment movement. There are loads of attachments for any camera (GoPro, phone or DSLR making tripods effective). Anchor the tripod with weight bags around the base legs to prevent an accidental tip over and camera damage. Adjust the pan (side to side motion), and tilt to provide just enough resistance for smooth movement when tracking a subject. **Subject Tracking** Tracking your subject involves aiming the camera just slightly ahead of their travel path in order to anticipate the focus and action. When shooting sports, you’re tracking the athlete in most cases, and it can be tricky at times while trying to continuously focus on a fast moving subject. While dialing this in, make the center of your frame the focal point and keep the subject in the center of that frame. Because you made a game plan, track them until they get to their trick zone, and then nail the shot.
This is Dimitri and Heidi Litton on location in Puerto Rico. This is an example of anticipating and timing the shot (subject tracking). Medium aperture range, med to hi shutter speed. **Hand Held Shooting:** If you’re going to hand hold the camera, use the strap or put one on! Keep the camera close and snug to your eye when looking through the viewfinder. When you hold the camera to your eye, the hold is firm and more rigid than holding it further away and using the LCD screen as the viewfinder. Looking through the viewfinder will help steady your shot. **Understanding DSLR Camera Modes:** Most DSLR cameras have modes to make setting adjustment easy. Let’s quickly go over the typical settings. **“P” Program Mode** Commonly known as Auto Mode for DSLR cameras. Camera sets exposure and shutter speed. **“M” Manual Mode** You set the shutter and aperture settings individually. You’re in direct control. **“A” Aperture Mode** In the camera, you select the aperture and the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed for that setting. Aperture controls the amount of light you’re letting into the lens and the depth of field you’ll be able to achieve. The smaller the number (F8, 16, 22) results in less focus depth. Larger number settings result in a broader focus field. **“S” Shutter Priority Mode:** Shutter speed controls how long the exposure will be, controlling the stop action capability when taking pictures. In camera, you select the shutter speed and the camera selects the aperture setting. When trying to really stop the action, crank it up! The lower the shutter speed the more blur in the image. The higher the shutter speed the less blur in the image. **ISO** ISO refers to the sensitivity to light for the chip or film in your camera. The higher the ISO the more sensitive it is to light, allowing a higher aperture / shutter speed in lower light situations. Your safe zone for this setting is 400 to 800 ISO. Don’t be afraid to use a higher ISO but keep in mind and check for added grain to your photos when using a high ISO setting. **Metering Mode:** Most all DSLR cameras have a metering mode setting that measures the reflected light and determines the optimal exposure.
This is a photo of Brianna Joy Hirsch. This is a photo from a Kiteworld of Joy Hirsch. This is an example of a couple of skills — high shutter speed, minimum depth of focus, anticipating the shot. **Lenses:** Adding lenses really enhances your ability to create dynamic photos. Here are some basics on lens operation that can help. Don’t try to utilize the full range of the lens and take photos. Use a portion of the zoom capabilities of the lens and work on composing within that shorter zoom range. Treat the zoom lens like its fixed at a zoom point. When shooting a wide lens, you can find yourself really really close to the participant. Safety becomes an issue quickly unless the shot is a scenic landscape shot back away from the action. Tripods are valuable here given the additional weight. **Safety** Always identify any potential hazards that could endanger the photographer, participant, bystanders and property. Be mindful of others and obey all area rules / regulations at your location to prevent any hassle. Stay upwind of your subject when in water, this will help keep the splash down. Most importantly, have fun and don’t feel intimidated with a friend’s camera. Know the basics and work within them to get better shots. With some practice you’ll find you improve quickly. **Hire someone** If you don’t have anyone willing to snap some photos, look to hiring a pro (like Charles – check him out at [GoProVideo](http://www.goprovideo.com/ "GoProVideo")). There are qualified photographers in your area, and with a few people pooling funds, it’s likely a very affordable option and will produce great results.