WTF?! Here’s a look behind one the world’s most incredible ski shots and how it was captured
“Definitely the most beautiful photo I’ve posted in a long time and certainly the biggest air I’ve ever made,” said skier Richard Permin earlier this winter after unleashing this enormous send in what’s got to be one of the most incredible ski shots published on Instagram.
Just how big and crazy the monster canyon gap was, which Richie tamed while filming with PVS Company and fellow French freestyler Ben Buratti, is best left to photographer Germain Favre-Felix. “Huge!!” he simply says (note the double exclamation) before confirming the feature’s span to be… 28m.
For anyone still unimpressed at the Superheroes of Stoke, Days Of My Youth and Ivresse Films veteran’s boost, you may wish to start pacing out that length in your back garden… but make sure it’s more like a park, because it goes and goes! And that’s just the gap, never mind the actual distance flown before touchdown.
“I just had it in my head,” says Germ from behind his Canon 1D X Mark II. “Right from the first jump, I was asking myself ‘but does it look still in the air?’. That’s why I opted for a 35mm f1.4 lens, which allowed me to have the whole beginning and end of the jump, without too much distortion.”
Allied to this was a shutter-speed of 1/2000 of a second to help make sure the action was pin-sharp (a whole lot easier said than done on shots like this), and an aperture of f4.0 to produce the sort of limited but just-about-enough depth of field needed for the ultra-vivid, almost too-perfect style you see here. Which according to our Annecy-born snapper is called the Brenizer method.
As to shoot logistics, think two days’ preparation of the area, while on the morning of production, shapers and skiers arrived at 9am, waiting two hours for the light to become optimum before grabbing bangers like this (plus footage that can be seen via the likes of Transition, Benoit’s short film for Dynastar).
As standard plankers, we’re unlikely to ever understand what propels these former FIS and Olympic-competing skiers to go full Pegasus. Nor know what goes through their minds as they propel themselves down yet another sketchy-as-hell, almost-blind run-in, knowing full well what can happen if things go bad, with patient Permin spending three months in a wheelchair and a year off skis after breaking both heels filming another recent PVS cracker, the Avoriaz rooftop-boosting amuse-bouche Good Morning (three million YouTube views and counting).
“There were no words but exchanges of looks in the Glacier 3000 gondola,” says Germ of the atmosphere on the day. “I think that Richard and Ben had the same tension as for the start of a big competition. They knew they were going to have to jump from the big one.”
“Rocket,” says Richie’s former Red Bull team-mate Paddy Graham. “Head exploding,” confirms former king of the ski film-send Cody Townsend. We could not have put it better.