How to Shoot Snowboarding

Behind The Shot: Sami Luhtanen by Matt Georges

Our beloved senior photographer Matt Georges spends all his winter on the road to capture the essence of snowboarding, whether it’s backcountry or street. But when he’s back home between trips, he always like to share some ‘behind the scene’ stuff, so here are his explanations on one of our favorite Sami Luhtanen shots.

Sami Luhtanen – Frontside Bluntslide 450°, Helsinki.

With the digital era it’s good to experiment all sort of lights set ups. It would have been another story shooting films!

Aperture: f/4
Speed: 1/100
ISO: 800
Lens: Fisheye CANON 15mm
3 Flashes connected with Pocket Wizards Radioslave


Window reflection, or reflection in general is a classic. It works pretty much all the time, which also makes it boring really quick! I have been shooting tons of photos like this since I started, from water puddles to windows to mirrors to whatever can make a reflection and got the weird nickname of “Shadows Lights Reflection” by french friend and photographer Perly.

Anyway, it never gets old for me and I’m trying to shoot it in an interesting way instead of just having a random reflection. For this photo of Sami Luhtanen I knew he was facing me which makes it nice for reflection. The whole rail creates a sort of pyramid which makes a cool shape all together with the shadow in the foreground and the dark background.

I have set up only two flashes on this spot. The other ones were already dead when I shot this angle. One was lighting the spot and the rider from the back and another one just close to the kicker to light up the inside of the rail and give a little extra light power to freeze Sami’s trick. I had to shoot at 800 ISO as my flashes batteries were getting low, but it’s all good with nowadays cameras, which allows you to shoot at high ISO without too much grain.

The window was a bit dark so I have overexposed the whole photo a bit to get more detail in the reflection. I’m not a big fan of those light stars but in case this photo makes a double spread page it will be lost in the middle of the magazine. I like to avoid them when possible, or either way, play with its power by placing the flash directly against me. With the digital era it’s good to experiment all sort of lights set ups. It would have been another story shooting films!


We were shooting for the latest Pirate Movie called Distored Reality and this photo kind of fit with the theme in a way. The spot is a famous one from Helsinki and can only be ridden at night as it’s a company parking lot. Hopefully security guys were nice and allowed us to session it all night long.

As usual we had problems with the Winch and had to pull up the Bungee at the end, which makes the riders pretty exhausted really quick, and me too! Ville Lathinen, a finish photographer was with us this night, and as there were only two riders in the crew, we did shifts to help with the bungee, like five tries each. Of course, the whole session lasted longer than expected and by the time we were packing up the sun was rising and first employees were driving up on the parking lot. For us it was time for a huge breakfast at the nearest ABC gas station, the classic meeting spots in Helsinki Urban Snowboarding Life, before getting some sleep and starting the Zombie Night Missions again a few hours later.

Check Matt’s website. And if you want to see the previous ‘Behind The Shot’ articles, here’s the tag.


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