In-Action Photography*

As photographers we are on the sidelines using our cameras to capture the moment and capture the action. As an active person, naturally, we want to participate in sport activities.

However, in my experience, cameras and active sports do not seem to go together very well. I been frustrated with cameras since they were not designed for active participation in sport activities. Large SLR’s require two hands to operate, and most point-n-shoot cameras didn’t have suitable image quality. Neither camera types are rugged and waterproof. Actually, during the past 20 years, I have destroyed (and drowned) a few cameras trying to combine sport and photographing the action.

Until now.

In August 2011 I bought a GoPro camera. It is small (fits in the palm of my hand), waterproof, has an interval timer, and HD video. Additional specifics can be found on the GoPro website ( For a photographer, the GoPro has one setting – On or Off, and does not have any user adjustable exposure settings. Also, it only comes with one lens. Are these limitations ?. No, since they free the photographer to concentrate on the photo, and not be burdened with adjusting exposure or wondering if they are using the right lens for the situation. For an active person wanting to photograph sports events, the GoPro accessories are available for attaching to bicycle handlebars, seat posts, helmets, a head and chest harness, and using the stick-on brackets can be attached to almost anything. The small size of the GoPro and the variety of available (and easily customized) brackets and harness allow a full range of movement for any sport or activity.

Now, the photographer can be in the action, photograph the action, and no longer burdened by a camera*.

In-Action Photography* refers to photography where the photographer is photographing the action while in the action. This differes from Action Photography, which is photography of an action (e.g. sports event) and does not specifically refer to the photographer being part of the action.
All the photos on this page were captured by the photographer.   Downhill skiing photos captured using a GoPro on a chest harness, and kite skiing photos by a GoPro attached on the ski tip using a custom bracket. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Downhill skiing – unburdened by a camera

Check the shadow – try that with a hand held camera !





Cutting the Soft Stuff – kite skiing



Shadow at lower right corner is the GoPro

More kite skiing photos are on this link

Kite Skiing: Tips for Beginners

A few weeks ago and kite skiing friend (Chris – not his real name) mentioned that he was going to sell his kite –
“Why” I asked, “kiting is an awesome sport, what’s up”

Chris, is an emergency room doctor and over the past few months had seen several patients with serious kite skiing related head injuries. For Chris, the thrill of kite skiing was gone, replaced with the fear of a head injury.

As an avid kite skier, I had to know what had caused these injuries, and why were so many people getting seriously injured. Without providing specific details, Chris mentioned that the four casualties were all relatively new to the sport of kite skiing. Thinking back to when I started kite skiing 10 years ago, yes, I did have more accidents. Some of those accidents were due to the sport being new to Yellowknife and the lack of experienced kite skiers, some accidents due to my lack of experience, and other accidents related to doing stunts (e.g. intentionally getting lifted). Also, the kite that I purchased on-line was a whopping 4.9m (square meters). At the time, this was considered ‘far too big, and I would get hurt’. Fortunately, none of my crashes were serious and I quickly gained sills and experience.

Ten years later, I am still using that same kite. The kiting scene in Yellowknife has changed dramatically; more kiters, there is a licensed kite school and the kites are now 12 to 20 meters in area. You can’t even buy a kite as small as mine anymore. Nowadays, the kites are very different in design than my now vintage kite. A suitable analogy would be, my kite as a 1950’s sports car and modern kites akin to a Ford 350; big, powerful and with extra features like cruise control and airbags. Really, those new kites are big and powerful and can actually be flown with one hand !

So, going back to why have there been four serious kite skiing head injuries during the past few months ?. I don’t think we will ever know exactly what happened, and it would not be fair of me to speculate on what happened.

Instead, I’ve created a list of 10 tips to pass on to beginner kite skiers. These are based on personal experience of 10 yeas of kite skiing, and conversations with other, experienced kite skiers.

  1. Always wear a Helmet: Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury when your head comes down hard on the snow.
  2. Watch the Clouds: Fast moving clouds are a warning that a wind pattern is imminent.
  3. Know your Wind Limit: Know your wind comfort zone and if the wind gets too strong, then pack up and go home.
  4. Watch for Obstructions: Keep your eyes on the path in front of you and do no watch only kite. Hitting a snowbank at high speed can be very painful.
  5. Stay Away from Bare Ice: The metal edges of skis (or snowboards) are not designed for ice. In a strong wind, they will slide out from under you.
  6. Use a Safety Harness: If you suddenly are overpowered by the wind and are out of control, a safety harness, connected to your break lines gives you the ability to completely let go of your kite and it will not blow away.
  7. Learn the Rules of Kite Skiing: Although the link refers to kite surfing, the rules and concepts are the same for kite skiing.
  8. Do Not Attempt Stunts until you have mastered the basic techniques.
  9. Icy Snow, epically after a thaw and freeze cycle is unforgiving. Sharp snow can shred your kite and you, and is really fast. I usually wait until the snow has softened. Your knees will than you.
  10. Get a lesson or two from a licensed instructor.

Have fun.