Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Blogging is hard.  When you’re ripping sweet, sweet pow (especially when it’s freezing cold), the last thing you want to do is take out a camera and start shooting video.  When you’re skiing with other people, I always feel a little dickish when I say: “Hey guys, I’m going to snag first tracks.  Then I’ll post up next to those trees down there, you guys sit here and stare at my tracks until I get my camera all set up and wave you down.” Then, when you get home, instead of reaching for a beer and plopping yourself down on the couch, you have to download the pics to the computer, maybe edit a video, write up the Trip Report, or participate in some good natured internet forum jibber jabber.

Then there’s the financial burden.  You’re paying for gas to get to the mountain, lift tickets for the day, ski school for the kids (if I had kids), lunch, beer, and ski equipment.  On top of that, there’s the cost of the blogging equipment: point and shoot (P&S) camera, flip cam, helmet cam, phone, laptop, internet access, phone service, and most importantly, time.

I was thinking about this stuff when I was tooling around for a new camera.  I love the photos that come out of trip reports that are shot with really nice cameras (skiing or mountain biking).  I was thinking of getting an entry-level DSLR and trying to get into photography a little more (thinking of a Nikon D3100).  
But then I realized the extra costs that would be associated with such a purpose.  First off, I’d need a way to carry the thing.  I can’t just stuff a DSLR in my pocket like I could a P&S.  So I’d need some sort of carrying case thingy.  Then, I’d probably need some extra lenses (I don’t know if this is true or not, I’m still trying to learn about SLR photography).  And, to be perfectly honest, I might need a new computer (mine is 7 years old).  I keep getting the low memory warnings popping up, so I delete an old movie edit, and a few weeks later they pop up again (I might be able to get around this by buying an external hard drive).  I’m still tossing the idea around in my mind, so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

What really inspired this new interest (besides cool trip reports), was the recent article on slate.com about Slow Photography.  Like the Slow Food movement, Slow Photography is more about enjoying the present moment, and not just “documentation” (this is where we were, this is what we saw):

That's why, eventually, anyone who considers her- or himself "into" photography becomes interested in beauty (and using a camera to create it). The difference between documentation and the beauty impulse is that the latter has the power to produce not just a memory, but an emotional response in any viewer. That's very different from the impulse to record. For group pictures are never beautiful, nor are photos in front of the Eiffel Tower. (It is big, and the subject is too small.)

You do need to slow down at least a little to create beautiful photos. And yet fast photography is not the enemy of good results, by the logic of volume: If you take a thousand photographs, one or two will turn out great. Professional photographers rely on this logic, and it is also the raging theory on African safaris. At any given moment in the Serengeti, thousands of shutters are clicking, and among the gigabytes of crap are a few photos that will turn out great.

No, the real victim of fast photography is not the quality of the photos themselves. The victim is us. We lose something else: the experiential side, the joy of photography as an activity. And trying to fight this loss, to treat photography as an experience, not a means to an end, is the very definition of slow photography.

And the pictures aren’t bad either.

Of course, it’s not just Photography that is going slow.  Skiing is jumping on the bandwagon as well:

"This is a new approach to skiing in Italy," said Walter Galli, a spokesman for the resort. "It's about getting away from the competitiveness of the main slopes, leaving the stress of the office behind and taking a moment to yourself."

The Breuil-Cervinia resort in the Valle d'Aosta region of northwest Italy has prepared the trail for skiers of all levels, complete with picturesque viewing points and wooden benches for those who want to catch their breath.

Organisers have named it after Italy's slow food movement - a campaign to get people to improve their quality of life and take pleasure in a more relaxed way of living.

You know, especially during this time of year (when the mountain is crowded, I’m working my ass off, freeskiing opportunities are few and far between), I could probably use this type of relaxation.  In my continuing quest to live more in the moment, I could really stand to stop and look around for a while.  What else you got?

At Alta Badia in the Italian province of Bolzano-Bozen, a group of Michelin-starred chefs have organised the "ski with taste" initiative.

"We've created a gastronomic route where hungry skiers can stop and indulge in delicious meals made from local produce," said Arturo Spicocchi, who came up with the idea along with fellow chefs Norbert Niederkofler and Fabio Cucchelli.

"There are 10 mountain huts, each run by a different chef. We create our own signature dishes from local ingredients such as honey, apples and speck (a mountain ham)," he said.

Now THAT sounds like an experience worth blogging about!


  1. I'm sensing a recurring theme...

    I find it incredibly hard to slow down. Part of it is the distance I live from the sport (life!) I love. Part of it is just my hyper-nature.

    One thing I love about skiing with locals... even the rippers ... they enjoy the entire experience of being on the hill and seem to have great patience with slower skiers (me).

    I think, in some ways, kids actually help you slow down. Yeah they have a ton of needs that add a zillion things to your to-do list. But they need eye contact to thrive, and the need is so obvious, you just can't ignore it.

    I'll probably never switch from a point-and-shoot camera. It's all I can deal with carrying and operating in the cold. I'll probably always be the guy who takes 100 pictures to get a few good ones.

  2. Most of my best days have no pictures in the Trip Report. Blogging and Trip Reporting are not worth slowing down for. And when I do get pics on a great powder day, they are almost always long after the pow has been tracked up.

    I had thought about DSLR too. Even though I don't like to stop on good days, I want to be able to take better photographs (that starts with me but a small sensor does not help). I can't see lugging around a camera. You're more likely to use a camera if its with you. So I compromised and went high end of the P&S market. Slightly better sensors but still pocketable.

  3. It's true that blogging and trip reporting are not worth sacrificing crucial pow runs, but the real payback is years later when the images allow you to reflect back on an experience that would otherwise be lost to the ravages of time. I've done big trips with no camera, and I always regret it afterwards. I have never regretted losing a few minutes of riding time to preserve the memory. The ability to share photos on a blog is pure gravy. Nice blog, keep up the good work!