Capturing BMX Action Shots: Remote Cameras
Brett, what am I gonna be on this, the D5?
Cool, so maybe I'll go, just for the heck of it 70-200 on the D5.
Let's get the rest of all that remote gear.
Yeah, just right there, yeah. Corey, maybe I could watch, even without a camera in hand, just see you, kind of show us what's possible.
If you want I can explain a little bit about the bike setup.
Sure. Yeah, let me get you a mic.
Yeah, so basically what's gonna happen here is, I don't really ride this rail that much, so, I don't wanna like jump on it and just stick it with the peg and flip over. So generally what I do, and a lot of people who I travel with filming and shooting photos, they have wax. And for people that don't know why, it's because a lot of times, when you jump on the rail, if you don't have particular pegs that are good for that rail, so if it's painted, metal pegs are fine. A lot of times if there's no paint on it and you have plastic pegs, it's really sticky. Fat tires are another thing, if you ha...
ve big tires they end up sticking on it, so a lot of time you carry wax and just wanna lightly glaze it up, just helps.
And what is this wax designed for, is this...
This is just regular old candle wax.
Oh, no kidding
You don't need anything... Lot of times if you're actually struggling you can use soap. People have used lotions, anything to make it a little bit
extra slick. And then this particular rail, too, is the fatter rail, so if you wanna put it on the sides of it, because the circumference of the rail kinda binds up in between the spokes and the
Pegs and the tire, so yeah
Got it, and what are you waxing the rail or your peg?
Generally, you focus on waxing the rail.
Sometimes you can just kind of have a stick of wax with you, put it on just real quick. You know, on the bottom
Right, got it, cool.
of the peg, or just on the side of the tire.
Great, that's good to know.
So, here ya go.
Alright, you got it. And, Jeff, maybe, I'm thinking just so it's something different, maybe I'll shoot, I'll just kind of do some kind of a compressed 70-200 shot. Brett, one question, am I in the shot if I'm here?
Actually you might be, hold on.
The other option is I could maybe shoot from above and create more of a graphic option. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) We could, yeah maybe I will do that, let's see. Bly, you think if actually were here that would work? Okay, maybe I'll go then 24-70. I'm just gonna run around this corner and then just hand the camera up. Oh, you know, let me go 24-70 from here. I think I'm just realizing I'm a little bit tighter, a little wider.
So another thing, just to keep in mind is that you can also do stuff up rails, so...
Oh, right, okay
a lot of times a BMX rider... I, myself, I love to go up rails than down rails.
It just makes it... you can walk, you can do stuff out of it too, so.
Cool, that makes sense.
You can kind of line up your shooting.
And maybe, and I think for this maybe we'll go down, just given camera placement, but that's good to know. Thanks, very much.
So, Corey, you are in the frame there, but you are relatively tiny.
Again, it's a fish eye from this perspective.
And I think we're gonna just, for anyone watching at home, I'm in the shot right now. We're just gonna make believe that I'm not, maybe I would hide, maybe we would work this, or it's an event where there's 12 other photographers next to me, so it's okay if I'm in the shot. And, so right now, I'm on the D5. Brett and I have a set up a remote. Corey's waxing the rail, and I'm kind of framing up my shot here. I have no idea what our exposure is. How does that look, Jeff or Bly? Does that look reasonable?
Are you on motor drive right now?
I'm gonna go to... I am
Go to high
Okay, I'm on
And just give me a few fires
Okay (rapid shutter sounds)
So we're firing in sync.
Okay, so what's cool now of course, the whole point of this lesson, is I'm working on camera A, which is my Nikon D5. I have a Nikon D4S with a 16mm fisheye lens underneath the, underneath what did you call that feature? Not the bench, but the..
Ledge, ledge, that's it. I wanna get the lingo down by the end of the day.
You can give technical skate terms as well, Hubba you know things like that but generally BMXers go oh look at that Ledge.
Ledge, ledge. And I'm the first guy, I don't mine makin' fun of myself when I can't remember, you know, what the technical term is. Corey figured that out quickly. And I really mean that, just being honest being straightforward telling the athletes what you do and do not know is really valuable. So anyhow now the beauty is, I'm making two pictures simultaneously every time I press the shutter. How did that look exposure-wise guys? Cool, and I'm not in the perfect position. I'm working within the constraints of of what I can do while tethered. But, cool Corey, I'd say whenever you're ready let's do it. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Cool, cool. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Great. And boy just getting elevated makes such a difference. I can see as I'm looking down at the monitor, it is such an interesting perspective. Lots of great graphics. Okay, and I'm just prefocusing on the rail. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Because the reality is I'm at a 2.8 1250th of a second, 2000 ISO. And at that distance, I'm at infinity so the subtlety of whether he's a foot taller than the rail or two feet taller or not he's in the same plane of focus so I'm not trying to autofocus, I pre-focused on the rail. That camera's pre-focused, our remote camera's pre-focused. So now it's just about the moment and so I'm doing bursts of images. I can see, I'm looking down, because I'm tethered I'm seeing the Apple monitor, there's some nice frames. On the D5 I'm shooting, I believe it's 12 or 13 frames per second, in raw, and I can shoot up to like 100 frames in a burst. So I'm getting virtually as much action as I can through that stretch of the rail. So this is more about repetition and then I'll let Corey, maybe after one more pass Corey. And now this is worth pointing out, obviously it's hot, Corey's actually working, Corey just drank a Red Bull. If I were here for Red Bull, one of the things that I would do is try to create natural moments that don't feel forced, where he's actually drinking product or has product in hand. And you know again, if the assignment hypothetically was for Red Bull, you know he's wearing a Red Bull branded ball cap. He just, you know their product, at the end of the day, is an energy drink. I would try to make pictures of Corey either holding the can or drinking. And the ultimate is when he's just naturally doing it. Where I'm not having to make it up. He's actually having a beverage. I might then work that situation and shoot it a few more times, but it's something I just noticed out of the corner of my eye, worth mentioning, but we're focused right now on shooting the rail. So maybe let's give it another up and down...
pass and then we'll look at it onscreen. And I'm ready when you are. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Great. Okay and I'm good. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Cool, okay. And Corey, maybe if you want, have a look and just see if there's anything you would critique in terms of, you know, what I'm seeing or what you're doing. Couple things I notice if you're watching from home or if you can see this monitor right now. There's a piece of paper hanging on that gate that says probably, you know, once you walk in here you might get hit by a skateboard or a bike. And but that white spot is definitely pretty distracting. That's an easy problem to solve. I like the lines, there's a lot of graphics stuff happening. I don't actually, I'm not a huge fan, I'd love to come back and do this later when those window highlights aren't blasting the floor. But again, this is more about the principle of how we're working.
Yeah so, I mean as far as if I had to critique anything I love this angle looking down on it, as far as like you said, the lines and everything that goes on. Generally, with your, your hidden camera (laughs) you would basically wanna shoot or take an angle from that because the rail is so small. If you're looking at like a legit photograph that you wanna publish or something. But the way this is setup with the lines and everything, I like it a lot.
And the trick wise, probably you would go with something like that to where the rider's a little bit steeper. The back wheels, you can tell I was clearing the rail.
And he's kinda hanging over it, that's what we call a Tooth Hanger.
And to Corey's point I think, as he describes the best action for the athlete then I look at it aesthetically and I think I want him in a better position relative to the bench, ledge in the back.
I wanna cover up that, the yellow part, the top of the ledge but like when he said this is the best body position, there's a yellow portion of the ledge sticking out. So, yeah right there, when you, that next frame
See how that yellow is just kind of right underneath your chest? That's a little distracting to me so it'd be,
Yeah of course. I either subtly move left or right.
Got you. And that's when we would just, you know, work together.
Adjust everything, yeah.
So I think two things we're gonna try. Let's actually move the camera closer to the rail.
And Corey is it safe to say which side should it be on? If we're focused on the down.
If I'm doing that same trick, what I call the Tooth Hanger.
Where the camera is on that side, you know, if you're looking at the rail on the right side because you wanna show the rider's like hanging over.
Got it, okay, cool. Awesome. This is your camera right Brett?
Yeah, yeah totally.
Okay perfect. Put it right underneath.
So where are we...
Honestly anywhere at the bottom of the rail.
You know, because if, I'll put this down.
So as a hanger you're going to come off to this side?
Right, so you basically, you come down, but no, no, no, I'm riding straight off the... Hanger meaning like the backend hangs out on this side.
And so it's like if you're on this side to photograph it that's what you wanna capture.
So you wanna capture the rider as steep as possible.
So where do you think is safe for the camera?
Perfect where you at.
Can we come even closer?
Yeah, I mean, basically the bike is gonna land here so, you have all the clearance within this space.
Got it, got it. It's a matter of your framing and how wide your fisheye is.
Okay. What I need is a rope on the end of it so if I see him coming' off I can yank it into the air. But we don't have that.
And I think what's happening, this dialogue between Brett and Corey, and then me asking Brett to put it closer, you know there's this fine line of the closer you can get the camera to the action, you know the more surprising the photograph is in the end. Because as Corey said, you want to feel like the bike is about to hit it, but you actually don't want to have the bike hit it. So that's really what we're trying to do here.
Sure, but we want the whole feature.
Is trying to figure out how close can we actually get that camera to the bike.
Okay got it. So again now that I'm resetting the camera. I'm refocusing it, putting it back to manual, and then retaping our lens from our new position. And then I'm gonna go back to live view. As soon as I open up the camera here. There we go. And I'm gonna relevel the camera. And I'm making sure to include again the start and the end of the rail so we can see where he's coming from and where he's ultimately going to. I've now reframed our camera, I can now turn back off live view. I just focused it manually from up here. And I re-enable our trigger. And then go ahead and give me just a test push from there.
Okay. Great. (camera shutter clicks)
And one thing that's valuable when you're doing tests is you try to get your assistant to do something idiotic in the frame. Okay Brett. Yep, there we go. Because later those are good incriminating. And usually I can push him further than that but because he's live, on CreativeLive, he's holding back I can tell.
I'm also ready to dive in front of the camera to protect Corey's valuable assets just in case he starts to come of the rail to the side.
Alright cool, yeah let's try it. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Cool. Brett I think we can get a lot closer.
Corey honestly, how much closer do you feel we can go, I mean like are you comfortable?
As close as you're comfortable.
Cool let's go like let's...
In your wide angle.
Yeah, let's cut the distance in half.
Okay. Trying to remember which bag I pulled my lens out of. Whether it was his or mine. But, so again
It's definitely mine Brett. Every time we move it, we have to refocus. Here I'm just turning it back. You're gonna be, peek of the trick is about right there?
Yeah about half way.
Again we have plenty of depth of field with the fisheye lens but it's always right to get the focus approximate. Go back to manual focus, retape our lens.
And one of the things, the reason I'm pushing to get the camera closer is frankly, underneath the bench, ledge, was moderately interesting and by moving out a foot it'll get a little more interesting, we move it another foot it gets more interesting. And it's kind of getting it right to that limit of how close can we get. We just got a great pass and so we're making a change each time. I mean, this is the point of remote camera. Brett's not gonna lay there to take this picture. And so we're using our remote to keep at least the human safe. Worst case scenario Corey's gonna hit the camera, the camera's gonna take more damage than Corey will if his bike nails that thing.
Sorry just a second to get our camera right here.
And you know, part of what you're seeing is the process of just looking for images. I mean we've had over an hour. We started by shooting into these patches of sun, they've completely moved, no longer are they in the middle of the concrete. We then, we tried to work, we worked this wall with the fisheye lens, that was interesting moment. You know, cool def Corey up in the air. We then tried to work this big wall on the far side. That didn't work because of the light but then I saw Corey jump over this gap. We switched into using remotes. And frankly, we could spend the whole day looking for opportunities. You know I said at the beginning of the segment I wanted to go up in to the booth, I think we're gonna run out of time at least for shooting with natural light. Maybe we can get up to the booth for that kind of high-angle looking down when we're using strobes. Or maybe we'll even shoot a portrait from up high. But the idea is you're just constantly fishing for what else can I shoot, what are the other opportunities, what do I have in the bag, and how can I push myself to make yet more interesting photos? Okay, looks good.
Just give me a couple test frames.
Okay, let's see. And let me see you do something that's memorable Brett. There we go good, okay. Alright and then that's working. Okay Corey let's give it a go. And obviously the camera's now in my shot. But I'm using this camera to trigger it. And, okay. (camera shutter rapidly clicks) Cool. Alright, well Corey thanks a bunch, that was great.