Scott Markewitz Photography | Blog

On Location with 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist Mikaela Shiffrin and the Phase One IQ250

Recently, I was hired to shoot 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist Mikaela Shiffrin for Barilla pasta at her home ski resort of Beaver Creek, CO. It was a really fun shoot, and great to work with such a talented, upbeat and well grounded athlete. She definitely has what it takes to become a superstar.  Here’s the rundown on the shoot:

It’s late in the spring, the mountain has been long closed and the snow is melting rapidly. We have several hours to shoot action, portrait and lifestyle shots of her, both on the mountain in her ski gear and in the village for some casual lifestyle shots, including the time it takes to set up, move around to several different locations, have her sit for hair & makeup and break for lunch. It’s a lot to fit into a short timeframe, so we have to be really efficient with every aspect of the shoot.

Luckily, the weather is perfect when we wake up on the morning of the shoot. We’re on the lift by 7 and ready to shoot at the top of the mountain by 7:45. We start with some portraits on top of the mountain, then a few runs through a series of Giant Slalom gates for some action shots, then it’s time to break for lunch and wardrobe/ makeup change to be ready for lifestyle shots in the village. Before we know it, it’s 3:00 and Mikaela has to leave for another commitment – just as the clouds start rolling in. When we wake up the next morning, the mountains are socked in and there’s an inch of snow on the ground. That’s what you call good timing.

With such a tight schedule, I’m using simple tools and setups to keep the shoot moving and to let Mikaela be herself in front of the camera. I want the lighting to look natural, so I’m using basic modifiers; one strobe head with an octabox or a simple round reflector, to add fill, enhance detail and compensate for the strong sunlight.


For these shots, I’m using a Phase One IQ250 medium format camera system with a 110mm lens attached. Like most high-end medium format cameras, the image quality is incredible. With a dynamic range of 14 stops and 50+ mb files, the detail in the images looks almost 3 dimensional. Most medium format cameras I’ve worked with are slow and clunky, but what really impressed me about the IQ250 is how smooth and nimble it is to use. The touch screen menu on the back is quick and easy to navigate and the bright viewfinder makes it easy to nail fine focus even when your subject is moving and you’re working with a shallow depth of field.



For shooting active lifestyle and sports, I need a camera that’s responsive, easy to use and quick to adjust on the fly. 35 mm cameras do this really well, but can’t match the image quality of a medium format system. The IQ250 is the first camera I’ve used that can bridge that gap, and I’m looking forward to more great shoots ahead with it. I’m especially excited to experiment with its incredibly fast 1/1600 flash sync speed, which not only allows me to freeze the action but also gives me more control over the light and latitude to overpower the sun. Most cameras sync at 1/250 sec and the best native sync I’ve seen is 1/800 sec. For shooting action with strobes, this is a game changer.


Behind the scenes on a Barilla shoot earlier this month with Sochi 2014 Winter Games Gold Medalist Mikaela Shiffrin at Beaver Creek.


Embracing the Backup Plan

Check out Photoshelter’s blog on Scott’s write up about Embracing the Backup Plan, which originally appeared in their guide – Building Your Outdoor & Adventure Photography Business.

World Travel for Photo Shoots Equals Covers from around the World

Check these out!

Trail Runner June Issue (USA)
Bike 2015 Calendar Cover (Germany)
Trails Endurance May-June Issue (France)

TrailRunner June Issue, USA Magazine

TrailRunner June Issue, USA Magazine

Bike 2015 Calendar Cover, German Magazine

Bike 2015 Calendar Cover, German Magazine

Trails Endurance May-June Issue, French Magazine

Trails Endurance May-June Issue, French Magazine

5th Annual Snowbird Workshop Photo Contest Winners

THIS JUST IN! Winner of the 5th Annual Snowbird Workshop Photo Contest are as follows:

1st Place: Miles Minno


2nd Place: Miles Minno


3rd Place: David Harris


Congrats to all who won and thanks to all who participated!

5th Annual Snowbird Workshop Photo Contest

Another very successful workshop this year resulted in some fantastic photos by all who participated! The consistent cloud cover and snowfall made for great skiing and interesting shooting conditions, but according to Scott “there is no such thing as bad light.”

You be the judge and vote for your favorite shot! Each Like will count as one vote for that photo. Additionally, comment on the photo telling us why you voted for it, and we will count that as another vote!

We have some awesome prizes for the winners this year including: an F-Stop bag, Sun Sniper camera straps and a Red Bull Illume book. So VOTE now! Also visit my Facebook page to vote again.

Special thanks goes out to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Broncolor, Sun Sniper USA, F-Stop Gear, Red Bull, GU Energy Labs, Discrete Headwear, DAKINE, COOLA Suncare, and all the skiers and snowboarders (Marcus Caston, Mark Kogelmann, Dan Rihm, Andrew Bird, Dylan Crossman, Amie Engerbretson, McKenna Peterson, and Eric Fabbri) for supporting this event and allowing us to have the best workshop yet! — at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.

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Changing Perspectives – Taking Advantage of the Rear Screen

A common complaint about point and shoot and other digital cameras with small or non-existent viewfinders is that it’s difficult to shoot using the rear screen, especially outdoors where the daylight can overpower the screen and make it difficult to see what you’re shooting.

Lately, I’ve been working with the Sony NEX-7 and a99 cameras, which both have electronic viewfinders and movable rear screens, and I’ve found some situations where the rear screen gives you some real advantages over the viewfinder.

First, it’s great for ‘run and gun’ style shooting where you can whip the camera out and shoot without taking the time to compose through the viewfinder, and capture a great moment that you might miss otherwise. Holding the camera away from your face also allows you to maintain eye contact with your subjects, which can put people more at ease in front of the camera and make it easier to capture more natural moments and expressions when you’re shooting portraits or lifestyle.


It’s also great to play around with the different perspectives you can get by shooting with the camera away from your face. Tilt the screen up, down or sideways and you can see what you’re shooting with the camera in almost any position. Having the freedom to move your camera around and still see the shot opens up a whole range of shooting options that can’t be achieved with your eye up to the viewfinder. In this shot I pushed my Sony a99 camera in really close for the shot and pulled it away at the last minute to avoid the rider.


I found another unexpected use of the rear screen on a recent project. I was on a mountain bike shoot in the desert, with my Sony NEX-7 in my pack and noticed some cool looking dead branches on the ground next to the trail. I thought it would be interesting to shoot through the branches, framing the mountain biker in the branches, but there was no way I could lie down on the ground to position the camera properly in the branches and get my face up to the viewfinder. I placed the NEX-7 on the ground and tilted the rear screen up so I could frame the shot exactly as I wanted while kneel a couple of feet behind the camera. Here’s what it looked like.


It feels natural to put the camera up to your eye and shoot thru the viewfinder. It’s the way we’ve all been doing it for years. But, the world of photography is changing rapidly and as cameras evolve it’s important to learn as much as possible about new camera features, and use them to your advantage to improve your craft. This is just one example where a simple feature that might be considered an annoyance can help you create better images.


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