Behind The Photo: Henninger Rail

Two winters ago I took a trip up to Syracuse, NY after it was hit with a big snowstorm. I went with Peter Pape, Jayell White, Chris Fredette, and Trip Brown to get some shots. This was my first street mission trip so I was excited but I didn’t really know what to expect.

Peter Pape. Switch Frontboad. Henniger Rail, Syracuse, NY

The first spot we showed up to was the legendary Henninger Rail. This rail has been in a lot of different videos and magazines. We all knew there had been so many tricks done on the rail but that didn’t stop us. We had to get some shots on it while we were there, too. It’s hard to get shots at a spot that has been hit so many times because you don’t want to do the same trick someone else has done a few years ago.

As we were unpacking my car, which was packed to the max, Pape, Jayell, and Fredette were thinking of a trick they wanted to warm up with.

Packed Car

After the car was unpacked and everyone had his equipment and shovels, we walked over to the rail. We shoveled out the stairs and built a lip. Once all the shoveling was just about done, I started looking around to figure out a good angle. I knew Pape wanted to get a Switch Frontboard, Jayell wanted a Switch front lip, and Fredette was going for a Half-Cab Tail Press. The key for finding a good angle as a photographer is knowing what each rider wanted. That narrowed down some angles that I was thinking of because they wouldn’t work for the tricks they were going for. I found a spot I wanted to shoot from that had a nice clean foreground with untouched snow.  I got all setup. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was bright and warm. We couldn’t ask for a better day. I got low and shot some test photos to see how they would look and I really liked what I saw.

Pape dropped in first. I snapped a photo of him doing a backlip to warm up and see how he felt going sideways on the rail before jumping into the switch frontboard.  Next, Jayell and Fredette dropped in to warm up . After a few tries Pape was ready for the switch frontboard.  He let Trip (filming) and I know he was ready. You never know how many tries it’s going to take them to get a trick you have to be ready all the time. This time Pape got the switch frontboard the first try, but it was sketchy and style wasn’t there. He asked Trip to see the clip. Trip walked over to him and as he walked over, he walked right across the untouched snow that I was using for the foreground. I wasn’t happy with that.

Nice clean foreground but a zeached backlip. This was the idea I was aiming at for the switch frontboard.

I knew I had to change my angle and find something else because that ruined the photo for me but I didn’t have time. Pape ran up the stairs strapped in and got it perfect the second try. After he saw the clip he was over the trick and wanted to get a few more different tricks in. At the time I didn’t know if the photo would work with the foot tracks in the foreground.

I decided to stay in the same spot but zoom out a bit and pan up to fit the huge tree next to the rail into the frame. After snapping a few photos I started to like it more and more. Fredette was getting super close to getting the Half-Cab Tail Press. To motivate him I showed him the photo and a couple tries later he got it.

Chris Fredette with a Half-Cab Tailpress

After looking at the photos on the big screen, I was hyped on what I got that day. I knew the photo of Pape would be hard to get published in a magazine because the footpath in the snow made it a distraction. I sent it in to a couple magazines anyway and haven’t heard anything back about that photo. I knew it wasn’t going to get ran. Maybe it was because that rail had been published many times before. Or, maybe nobody had any use for the photo or maybe it was the footpath in the foreground. To this day I still love the photo because Pape got it perfect in two tries and it is a legendary spot. In the end I used it in Pape’s Greenhorn in EAST Snowboard Magazines first issue (1.1) which made me happy it got to be used somewhere.

Peter Pape. Switch Frontboad. Henniger Rail, Syracuse, NY

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