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Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes

Lesson 25 from: Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich

Corey Rich

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Lesson Info

25. Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes A Great Action Photo


Conceptualize the Shoot


Research Location / Wardrobe / Props for Action Shoot


Safety Tips for Action Photographers


What Gear Do I Need? Packing and Prep


Workflow and Asset Management


Ingesting and Organizing Files


Editing Down Your Selects


Post Processing Overview


Working with Clients to Select Finals


Retouching & Post Processing: Image 1


Retouching & Post Processing: Image 2


Retouching & Post Processing: Image 3


Final Client Delivery


Introduction to Snow Athletes


Setting up the Shot: Using Natural Light


Getting that First Action Shot: Snow Park


Scouting Location for Action Shot: Snow Park


Capturing Variation of Snow Park Action Shot


Refining the Snow Park Action Shot


Action Shot with Strobes Overview


Shoot: Action Shot with Strobes


How to Light Using Strobes


Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes


Refining the Snow Park Action Shoot: Using Strobes


Capturing Variation with Snow Park Athletes


Capturing Portraits: Snowboarder


Capturing Portrait: Skier


Shoot: Feature Jump Action Shot Afternoon Natural Light


Introduction to Today's Shoot


Building a Rapport with the Athlete: BMX Rider


Scouting Location for Action Shot: Indoor BMX Park & Natural Light


Getting the First Action Shot: BMX


Conceptualizing the Action Shot: BMX


Prepping Gear & Refining the Action Shot: BMX


Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Natural Light


Setting up Remote Cameras


Capturing BMX Action Shots: Remote Cameras


Conceptualizing the Shot: Using Strobes in Indoor BMX Park


Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park


Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Strobes


Capturing Variations of BMX Athlete


Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider


Directing an Athlete Portrait: Indoors


Lighting a Portrait: Indoor BMX Athlete


Portrait Demo: Indoors BMX Athlete


Portrait Demo: Adding Atmosphere


Transmitting Live from the Field


Panel Q&A


Lesson Info

Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes

Let's look through the camera You're still in high-speed continuous but you're powered on. Okay, perfect. I'm going to go back to-- How long until the athletes get here? I think we're like a minute out, yep. Well actually that's not true, why don't we-- we're going to test the lights without an athlete in the frame. You think I could talk? You know, maybe not you because you're in the black jacket what if, and that's much brighter than what they're wearing. Would you be willing to walk up on the other side of the rail? And even with camera in hand, but just go dead center to the middle of the rail and stand on the other side Yep Just so we can test the light. This is a great way to do it, whether it's someone you meet on location or whether it's an assistant, or an athlete that's hanging out. I'm going to test the lights before I'm burning laps with the athletes. If the athletes are just session-ing, great I'll test my lights as they're out there. But, if this is an event, ...

I only get one shot. One competition moment, or two or three competition moments, so I wanna be ready before we're actually shooting. So, let me move downhill I wanna kind of, I'm sort of triangulating. I'm sort of triangulating with the sun the sun is kind of a rim-light. By the way this is not an ideal situation. Ideally, the sun would still be a little more back-lit. You can see it kind of creeping over his shoulder there. Oh yeah, let me get tethered. But you're always using that sun as, it's my key light really. If we had more power I could make it sort of my rim-light. Now we're gonna try to just fill with our strobes. So we have one light that's kind of behind the subject, almost back-lit, slash, almost an edge light, and then we're going to use our strobes to actually fill. Oh shoot, I did not mean to do that. That is alright Okay, let me shoot a frame. Already a hundred times more interesting You get much, much more interesting photographs. I feel like I can go, I'm at 1250th of a second, I'm going to go to 1600th of a second and I'm kind of liking-- Want to bring down the ambient a little bit? Yep, yep So, okay, let's do that. So our subject will stay the same but we're going to bring the ambient down a little bit. [Man In Blue Jacket] How's that looking, Jeff? Much more dramatic [Man In Blue Jacket] And are we looking hot on the rail? No, you're still okay. [Man In Blue Jacket] Okay, perfect. Okay, so when I say 'hot,' we just want to make sure that we're not blowing up the yellow on the rail. So, we're within the latitude of the raw file, that we can actually shoot this picture. So, okay. Thank you very much for doing that. Now, the best frames, those frames I think we shot while we're in open shade, we have no sun in the background? So we can already tell it's more dramatic as soon as we go into open shade, which is what we're in right now. Okay, Cody! Okay, or Dylan. Hey Dylan, you can hit it first. Okay. (Cameras shuttering) I think I fired prematurely. I got too excited. That brings up a good point. [Man In Blue Jacket] So we can tell now as we're looking at this file, it's really dead-center on the rail, is our hotspot. That's our exposure zone. That's exactly what I was going to say. We need to be pretty critical about where we hit because we are trying to keep that light pretty focused so we can use as much light as we have. It's also worth pointing out that because we're shooting on strobes, we're full power, we're hi-speed sync, I only get a single frame and so that was a misfire, that was premature I got too excited. So now I'm going to control my trigger finger. Its a little tricky sometimes to switch from shooting with ambient light to strobes where when you're shooting with natural light, you just lay on the motor drive and when you're shooting on strobes, it becomes about that one decisive moment the Cartier-Bresson moment, in the park. Okay, Cody, let's do it! (Cameras shuttering) That still might have been premature. You're a little early right there. We can move, if that seems to be your sweet spot, we can adjust lighting. [Man In Blue Jacket] I've still got more air time if I let him. I think I can let him drop in a little more. I think this is a nice spot Yeah, that's about 400 feet I think where we're hitting the light, where the light is actually hitting the frame which is this zone, I like it, because it will also separate him from this tree I think that is a reasonable zone for a photograph. I think I need to let him drop into that area, so. One of the things with these packs is you can shoot bursts with these packs, but again, its gonna be in lower light since we're out here in the middle of the day, we're going full power and using all that the pack has. If we were in a lower light situation we would be able to do more of the freeze mode which is using less power but getting more continual flashes that you can do a sequence type of shot with. So we're going to have a little bit of a waiting scenario when we're actually here on the hill, these guys are hiking, this feature doesn't need as much speed to come into the rail, so they're not actually taking the chairs. So it won't be a 12 minute recycle time but it will take a few minutes to get them back into position. One of the things that came up from the audience at home was just this idea-- What was that? (Inaudible) [Man In Blue Jacket] Perfect, that sounds good. That sounds great. Dylan, how did that feel? Are you good? Yeah, I'm good, I'm not hitting it as cleanly as I want to. I could even take less speed, as I'm going in there, than I want to. [Man In Blue Jacket] Cool, yeah I'd rather have you on the rail longer, to be honest. [Dylan] Sounds good, okay I'm just gonna take a little less speed as I come in, I'm going to try and land at this second post. [Man In Blue Jacket] That sounds great and honestly, the photo is almost at the halfway point, if not passed the halfway point it's where that second snowflake is. Okay. Do you like me to do that, or would you like me to 50-50 or? [Man In Blue Jacket] No, I think what you were doing is perfect. I think it's great. Do you have the photo, by chance? We don't. We don't have it, I missed it. This next one, I'm gonna nail it. Why don't you guys start hiking this way and then you can see the frame as you walk by. Just to this side, yep, great. You know, Dylan just brought up something that's pretty valuable. Which is, if you can share the photo with your athlete whether it's on the back of your camera or here on the computer, it's really helpful if you're going to continue the shoot that moment. Athletes, they are the ultimate learners. They watch videos of themselves, they see photographs, they have total body control and they're always trying to refine that muscle memory and seeing your photograph, you know. I've found that athletes also really have an aesthetic sense about photography and so when they can see themselves on camera you have a conversation on what's working what's not working, you know great athletes like Dylan and Cody can walk back up the hill and change what they're doing, make those subtle alterations or adjustments to what they're doing with their bodies that make your photo get better. I always share, I always let people look at the back of my camera, specifically athletes because it makes for a better photograph and actually they become more engaged and then they love seeing what you're doing because it makes them part of the process versus it can feel very repetitive if you're just the athlete doing laps and you never get feedback and they see a frustrated photographer cussing and kicking the ground, you know that's not positive reinforcement. I think like what you're saying earlier, when you're out here you're constantly adjusting that's photography in general it's problem solving, a lot of times you've got your idea of what you want to accomplish in mind, you share that with the athletes, the athletes can help you get what you need, and then you're just dealing with issues as they come along. It's also, you know, Jeff and I were talking about when the generator went down and we had technical difficulties. There's kind of two approaches that you can have. Or when the battery packs aren't working on your strobes. You can freak out and start yelling and it turns out that makes it really unenjoyable for everyone involved. Or you kind of slow down, you're calm, and you just figure out let's troubleshoot this, lets figure it out, let's stay calm and it makes the entire experience for everyone around far more enjoyable and I always aspire to be that photographer that person, I want to be like calm, cool and collected because it just makes your life better, frankly. I think it helps everyone on the shoot including the athletes. Everyone's going to give a hundred percent more when they don't feel like they're being disrespected or treated poorly or anything like that. I think that used to be big in the industry, where people would, there's a lot of egos in photography and-- Bret can you get the stand! No, I'm just kidding. (All laughing) Alright, let's do this, I think the guys are almost ready. I agree. So now, just as I said, now we're going to have to wait for clouds, so now we're back into blue sky, but we've lit this actually for a shooting with clouds So we're going to wait, you know. That's the other reason for sunglasses, is you spend a lot of time staring up at the sun, waiting for the clouds to come in and trying to decide like what is the timing. I can see there's a huge cloud circulating, might be a minute or two out. You were speaking earlier about the apps too, that you can get. Sun-seeker apps. In yesterday's classroom session, I showed a slide of the sun-seeker app, which is on your iPhone and it allows you to actually see where the sun will be exactly in the sky at different times of the day and so if you're scouting on a cloudy day, it's a great way to understand how you're going to be working with the light, where the sun will be. I haven't found an app that tells me what the timing is for clouds moving in, but I think it's about 45 seconds. [Man With Gray Jacket] This time, Cody's not coming in on the side, he's coming over the whale tail. [Man With Blue Jacket] Perfect, that's great. Let me let this cloud build a little more. We have super high winds up above so the good news is the cloud are actually moving. The bad news is they blow through pretty quickly. Okay. I kind of want that denser section of the cloud. Right now its like a big diffuser. This is kind of the ideal situation from a lighting perspective. We want to put our subject, our rail, in the shade, and then let those cool white clouds and blue sky, pop. Let me just let it get a little darker, that's pretty much full shade right there. Okay, let's send Cody. [Man In Blue Jacket] I'm 1600 at 5, is that right? Yep. (Cameras shuttering) Alright, let's see if I got that. [Man In Blue Jacket] Better, I almost feel like, do you think we need to point our lights up? Yeah, we can go up a little bit. [Man In Blue Jacket] So what we're seeing is we're actually, our exposure is, a lot of our light is spilling on to the rail rather than Cody. Cody is definitely in the right spot in the frame and now we just need to get our light up. So it might be, depending on how much time we were going to spend on this shot, we can start working with grids to really capture that light and control where it's going, or what we're going to try to do is just tilt them up, just tilt both reflectors up so that less is spilling out on the rail and we're focusing more of it on the bottom of the rail and we're focusing more of the light actually on Cody. You can see that's a fairly dramatic shot we're getting light, he's popping out of the background. Potentially I can go slightly lower elevation. But we're definitely starting to shape the light that looks radically different than what we're seeing with our human eye.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Action Sport Photography Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

If you're looking to learn from one of the greats of action photography who also happens to be an incredible instructor, look no further! Corey Rich and his fantastic team will show you every facet of being a great action photographer and they share all of their insights from A to Z. Their instruction is heartfelt and they laid it all out there for everyone's benefit. A huge thank you to Creative Live and Red Bull Photography for bringing this to the world. This is a must have class in your library!

Zoe Heimdal

I really enjoyed this class! I am not an "action sports photographer" -- just an avid photo enthusiast, and I found this class highly informative/interesting. Corey has a very down-to-earth quality in the way he presents information... a regular guy, who knows a ton, and is sharing his wisdom. Clearly many topics/tips were off-the-cuff as he ran into situations during his shoots -- it just felt very "real" -- like I was there with him, getting a private lesson. There was quite a bit of info dealing with camera cards/photos/apps that was ubiquitous to any photographer. And then it was interesting to hear about his travel bags and what he brings to shoots (a ridiculous amount of gear, but everything with a purpose). There are hours of on-site filming for an outdoor ski and an indoor bmx shot... with Cory trying/failing/succeeding in many attempts at things -- just like a real photo shoot would happen. His advice for capturing a good/workable shot from the get-go and then spending the time on the riskier/more-creative shots, was solid -- as far as keeping your clients happy no matter what. I was genuinely surprised at how interesting/useful I found this class (being that I rarely take action shots) -- and I'd encourage any photo enthusiast, or person in the earlier stages of any professional photography career, to check out this class. My one piece of constructive criticism for Cory/CreativeLive -- try to represent women? This class only had the briefest of inclusion of females, and left me with the impression (I'm hoping incorrectly), that the world of action sports photography, is a man's world.

Student Work