Image Focus

Giovanni Auletta | Snow Dust

It was the day before the Women’s Downhill Race at the Alpine Ski World Cup in January 2020. The event was being held in Bansko, Bulgaria, and I, along with the other photographers, was inspecting the track prior before the skiing began. Just at that moment I noticed that for a few seconds, the light created this incredible effect in the snow; everything just above the base ground level was illuminated. Then, just like that, the effect disappeared and did not reappear.

When you are working as a sports photographer you usually have to photograph the race and the athletes as ‘clean’ as possible to see them and the action clearly. To get this shot I had to break those rules and move away from the edge of the course. I had to capture a wider view rather than just a close-up action shot of the athlete.

female skier in bankso bulgaria

© Giovanni Auletta | Sony α9 II + FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS | 1/1250s @ f/6.3, ISO 200

Choosing to take the photo during the event was a gamble; I could not afford for it to go wrong as those conditions would never come back again. Shooting with the Sony Alpha 9 II with the FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens gives me such confidence shooting in these situations. I can shoot at 20fps with a blackout free viewfinder, and have perfect autofocus, even with difficult lighting conditions. This flexibility gave me the option to capture the shot of Austrian skier Christine Scheyer coming down the mountain with the amazing light highlighting her route. I had a complete sequence of images, which gave me a choice of photographs, rather than having to settle for an image that was ‘almost’ perfect.

This image is particularly important on a personal level. In sports photography there are important photographs because the event in which you are is important, for example when you are shooting a world championship or where a world record has been broken. Consequently, the image can become part of history. I chose this photo because it was a “forerunner”, no one had thought of it before, and it will probably be difficult to repeat it because of the exact conditions on the day. Although it wasn’t featured in as many sports magazines as other images I’ve captured in the past, this is an image I’m really proud of and is one of my favourites, as it evokes a lot of emotion.

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Giovanni Auletta

Giovanni Auletta | Italy

"Photography is the best way to share a moment, with everyone and anyone, at the same time"

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