• Navigating the Slopes | Pro Shooting Tips from the Ski-Cross World Cup with Harald Wisthaler

    January 23, 2024


    In outdoor sports photography, being prepared is not just about skill, creativity and having the right gear. It's also as much about your level of organization and how you pack. Join us as we explore the world of Pro Photographer and f-stop Ambassador Frien Harald Wisthaler, as he navigates the demanding and exhilarating world of the Ski-Cross World Cup in Ineichen. 

    Nestled in the Dolomites, Harald's home in Italy (South Tyrol) offers the perfect canvas for his 15-year photographic journey. His latest challenge?  Only capturing the high-speed action and raw emotion at the Ski-Cross World Cup. 

    The Gear:
    The toolkit at Harald's disposal is as diverse as the sport itself. With his Mirrorless Nikon camera bodies, his range of lenses from wide-angle to super telephoto lens sets, alongside protective gear and outdoor wear, he geared up for a vast range of shooting situations. But it's not just about having the right gear; it's about knowing how to pack it. Harald emphasizes the importance of being consistently organized, but also flexible, often changing the equipment he packs based on the day's conditions and location scouting insights.  

    Proper Preparation: Harald told us that his number 1 tip is to not only make yourself familiar with your camera and lenses but also get to know the features of your bags. Look at all pockets and ask yourself why these are there and for what scenario you can use them for yourself! Make the gear yours and really get to know the equipment you're working with. This will help you work smarter and faster in almost every aspect when you're in the field and will make dealing with issues and obstacles a breeze. 

    OV German - Turn on the Captions for English translation

    Overcoming On-Site Challenges

    In the fast-paced world of sports photography, being prepared and flexible is just as important as having a keen eye for the shot. At the Ski-Cross World-cup, Harald faces unique challenges. His Office is situated just next to the ski slope, which for him has its pros and cons: He is always right in the middle of everything, no matter what.  

    To shoot an event like this effectively, you must always be ready to go, constantly aware of the schedules and factoring in the time you need to get up and down the slopes; and of course, adjust to the weather. When the race starts, everything is finished in 50 minutes. Choosing the right spot to bed in is crucial. Getting the shots you need requires strategic planning and sometimes a bit of luck. You need to be aware that moving positions during races is often not feasible and you cannot cross the race areas, so choose your position based on your goals.  

    Be Prepared

    Harald's passion for photography stems from far more than simply clicking the shutter.  The journey to each shoot is just as important to him. Whether it's World Cup events or serene mountain vistas, Harald knows that each adventure starts with a well-packed bag. Harald swears by his f-stop Tilopa DuraDiamond® 50l pack, a reliable companion on all his escapades.

    The key, he says, is consistency and preparedness. He packs the same way every time depending on the situation, ensuring he can find everything in a flash - be it his trusty 50mm lens or a crucial first aid kit. By keeping his pack consistently organized, ensuring he can quickly grab the right lens for the shot without a second thought. His advice? Keep your setup routine and familiar, so you're always ready, regardless of the conditions or the rush. 

    Pack Like a Pro: 5 Core Principles

    1. Adaptive Gear Choices Based on Location Scouting: Prior to each shoot, Harald conducts thorough location scouting. Based on these observations, he adapts his equipment to his needs. Sometimes that means making last-minute changes between wide-angle and telephoto lenses to suit the specific needs of the shooting environment. 
    2. Strategic Use of Accessory Pouches: Harald utilizes accessory pouches as a methodical approach to organization. He assigns specific items like batteries and memory cards to designated pouches. This strategic placement allows for efficient retrieval, especially in time sensitive scenarios. 
    3. Be Ready for the Elements: Acknowledging the unpredictability of outdoor environments, Harald prepares for a range of conditions. His gear includes protective items like rain covers for wet weather and thermal clothing for colder climates. This ensures both he and his equipment are shielded from the elements. 
    4. Be Consistent With Your Organization: Harald maintains a consistent setup for his pack, which is crucial for high-pressure shoots. This consistency in organization means he knows exactly where each piece of equipment is, from camera bodies to lenses. Reducing the time spent searching for items in the field means he can focus on getting the shot.
    5. Pack for Diverse Photographic Conditions: Emphasizing the need for versatility, Harald packs equipment that can handle a variety of conditions. His approach involves selecting the right gear for the job, also ensuring that he has backup gear and essentials like lens cleaners and protective covers. 

    A Strategy for Every Shoot: Whether travelling by car or tackling unpredictable terrain on foot, Harald appreciates the versatility of his f-stop Camera Inserts. They allow him to switch lenses, gear and setups quickly, adapting to changing scenes and moments. This flexibility is crucial, especially when pre-event scouting isn't an option. He usually brings a second Camera Insert with him in the car filled with potential other lenses he might need. Depending on what the location offers, he has the option to adapt and get the best outcomes.

    The Gear

    Harald utilizes a variety of equipment when he is out in the field. On this shoot he brought following gear with him:

    • 2x Nikon Camera Bodies  
    • 3-5 Lenses 
    • Angelbird Memory cards and Hard drive / Card reader 
    • f-stop Tilopa DuraDiamond® 50 L Backpack and Pro Large Camera Insert 
    • Laptop 
    • Additional Camera Insert with backup lenses in the car 
    • Add on f-stop accessories like the Gatekeeper Straps, Small Accessory Pouch , Protective Wrap and CF Wallet 

    Learned Wisdom: The devil is in the details – or in this case, in the packing. Harald keeps his bag organized the same way regardless of the shoot, which makes adapting on the go a breeze. His approach is to make every slot and pocket useful to him! He also has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Also, he’s a firm believer in packing the little extras that you might not need. You never know when that ‘just in case’ item becomes a lifesaver.   

    The Final Day

    On the final day, the weather closed in. Ineichen offers a stunning mountainous backdrop, but with snow coming in, Harald had to adjust his approach. Instead of isolating individual participants with his telephoto lenses, he adapted to shooting on a wider field of view. He then incorporated long exposure to highlight the dumping of snow and the speed of the race. Finding a darker background and panning his camera with the subject helped Harald make the most of the situation and produce his usual exceptional standard of work.  


    Stay flexible, stay responsive, and prepared to adapt at a moment's notice.

    Harald Wisthaler
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