Frank Petronio photographer

Perfect Last Day of Skiing

Greer Hill, cut in 1939

Had my best day of skiing in years yesterday. 40-50 mph on firm snow means 6-7 giant slalom turns over a 500’ vertical drop, 30-second runs. I come into it with tight decisive arcs, fall over the headwall and crank three hard fast ones at maximum angulation, then open up to cruise the flatter half one turn per lift tower. You have to remind yourself to breath and unclench your toes to press as hard as you can into the turns. Hard snow, almost ice, lets you feel the edges float then the tips drawing you into the new turn. Pressure builds and you feel the turn build until it pops and kicks you into the next flow. 

This is why I can not ever own a motorcycle, I love the hard turns so much. 

Friends know that I’ve been battling swelling and pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis so much that I’ve been barely able to ski more than a handful of runs at a time (some days I’ve only done one and done). But by doing yoga and changing meds I’ve gradually improved. Luckily I hit Holimont on a perfect bluebird day, just below freezing. Their grooming was top notch and I am not shy about admitting I like making GS turns on fast, smooth cruisers. Now the weather calls for a week of warmer, rainy days and my knees don’t abide by slush, so I’ve stoned and waxed my skis and washed and treated my ski clothes to be ready for better season next year. Kudos to Holimont for their superb operation, it’s really the best skiing in New York.

Me on Greer Hill

The far image was with the 300mm, the photo of me is from my old iPhone 5s. 

As for skiing, I didn’t start until I was 15 but I loved it. When I was 19 years old I was ranked 176th in GS points. I qualified for one Summer-time pro-race at Mt. Hood when I think I was on ABC’s Wide World Sports opening clip (but nobody had VCRs then so we’ll never know for sure). I fore-ran some FIS downhills that were awesome and scary. I did better as the youngest fully EPSIA certified ski instructor and Level II racing coach. I worked at Alta, Utah; Mt. Hood, Oregon; and Sugarloaf, Maine. And at the University of Oregon I coached their NCAA team in exchange for a partial scholarship. A climbing injury curtailed my ski career, got married, etc. but I still am a diehard even if it is only for a few good days per year. 

Strobe Kit

This was my last strobe lighting kit, lovingly assembled over several months at a more than modest expense. It consists of two Dynalite M-500xl power packs, three regular heads, one bare tube head, Minolta Flashmeter IV (last model), two PocketWizard set-ups, spare parts, barn doors, flags, Lowel gaffer tools, multiple speed rings and extension cables and cords. And two Paul C Buff Lithium batteries that could power everything (in addition to AC). All in a rolling case that weighed under the airline limit of 50 pounds. 

I had to test, experiment, and modify everything to work reliably with the batteries as this was relatively new technology at the time. Finally I had it perfected and rolled up the the airline check-in. And found that the only way I could fly the case was if I disposed of $800 worth of my heavy duty Lithium batteries*. 

Defeated. Now I use continuous lighting for digital or rent strobes if I must.

Dynalites are great mid-level professional strobes, even 40 year old kits still work and provide functional light. I made a lot of money traveling the world with a kit based on D-804II packs and 2401 heads. About ten years ago I bought a usable set of two packs and four heads for only $150. They’re solidly built and reliable.

That said, it is a real pleasure to rent ProFotos. You can shoot quickly and maintain a consistent color temperature, their focusing heads are also very nice. The contrary is that Paul C Buff gear is weakly built and ugly, torturous to have to use. Made in America but almost as bad as the Chinese lighting crap flooding the market. Yuck! (Hiring a good industrial designer and bumping the price slightly, they would have market dominance.)

*This has since been clarified by the manufacturers and TSA so that you mostly can fly with the larger Lithium Ion batteries that are properly labelled. Do your due diligence. 

Escape From NY

A freezing Winter night wandering around the city waiting for the late flight home. I was using the Nikon D810 with the compact Voigtlander 40/2 lens. 

I sold that lens because I thought the bokeh was too busy but looking at these wide open pictures (I think they were all @ f/2) I don’t see anything objectionable. It certainly is compact. 

Frost Ridge

Frosts Ridge

In 1975 I learned how to ski with my High School ski club at Frost Ridge in LeRoy, New York. It was a small rope tow ski area. Now it’s a trailer park. 

Oh Frost Ridge was laughable but we had a lot of fun and skiing became a life long sport for me, one I suffer great pains to continue. It’s really a shame we’ve lost these inexpensive blue-collar kinds of community ski areas that made skiing a growth sport. 

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