Capturing Portrait: Skier
So now I think we can start layering a little more complexity into the photograph. So Jeff and I kind of thought what could be fun would be to add some kind of edge light, so put in two strips so we're going to use two Profoto strip lights, they're kind of long, thin soft boxes, are they silver inside? The ones we're working with?
They're silver on the inside with a white baffle.
White baffle, so let's switch it up, let's bring Cody into the shot. So Cody I think you're on deck. Alright, so we're going to bring in Cody, and this is going to take a little bit more experimenting because we're going to go from one light to three lights. Kind of straight out of the gates. So let's move him in. I'm going to set this down, any question, guys? As we're getting set up?
I had one here early, but how do you decide, well I guess we're gonna see how you decide what lights go where.
Yeah I'd say, bring your skies in.
I guess the question I have is more like, what kind of power are you goi...
ng to be using with these, now setting up the three lights?
Right, we're gonna ratio that. But give us that, that's a good question. What I'm envisioning is pretty hard light on the side, so it's like a real kind of edge moody, high contrast light and Cody, I think you're maybe, sort of right about here, if I'm not mistaken. And maybe as they're kind of figuring out the light, lets you and I figure out what your pose is going to be? I kind of want, I actually want to see, let's try to actually with your, not seeing your face first, that's kind of cool with the actual black mask like you're sort of hidden behind the clothes. Let me see what else you can do with your skies. How else are you hanging out? Just go through like almost you're in a fashion runway. I want to see you just run through some poses.
There's really not much.
Yeah I kind of like that, like maybe lean on the skies that way, cool, great. Okay, and we'll try a bunch. Let me see, what if we actually go no skies, or can you put your skies against your body and cross your arms? Like if you're just getting irritated, it's taking so long, yeah something like that. Yeah, that's not bad. What about, would you ever lean it against your body and put your hands in your pockets? Like skies are kind of resting, but you tuck your hands in? I kind of like that, that actually just feels, yeah, let's try, we're gonna try a bunch of options but anything, I'll give you feedback but also whatever you're feeling, just tell me, we'll rotate through. We might end up losing your goggles pretty quickly just because it's so dark. So Jeff, you wanna just describe what we're doing from a lighting perspective?
Yeah lighting wise, we're gonna kind of keep the same key light that we've had, in the same area just so that it's kind of dramatic on his face, we have fall off down towards after his chest and then we're gonna put two strip lights, so we're going to try to create like a real thin line that just goes on the side of your arm, it's also going to fall off a little bit which is also going to draw more attention to his face. The background we already have going a little bit darker, so it's going to be kind of dramatic so we're going to kind of bring this around so it's not scraping all the way across, we really want to create a thin line. So that's determined by the position and the proximity of the light.
And this also probably worth mentioning, bringing out strip lights on your own, on windy day, this would be pretty tough. Like you would be managing a lot of equipment. I kind of took the liberty of bringing out some strip lights because I knew Jeff and Bly were going to be here to help. So that definitely, we can add a little to the equation. You can see they're blowing around right now, we actually might have to manage the strips just so that they don't blow over. It's also worth pointing out this is not one of those Manfrotto stacker stands. We brought a C-stand up, and it's a great investment owning a single C-stand. They're just really durable, they're heavy, but it's made out of metal. You can take the base off, so you have kind of like, boom. It goes higher than the stacker stands, and in high wind like this with aluminum stands you really run the risk of actually, you can bend it or knock it over. This thing we can put weight on it, we can stand on it, we're not actually going to break the Matthews stand. So this works pretty well, it's a great simple kit. Two heavy duty stands in the back. One C-stand in the foreground, two strips. So we're on the packs, the B4 packs in the background and we're on the B1 monoblock in the foreground with a grid to 10 and we're using a magnum reflector. Okay let's figure it out. Go ahead, I think you were going to add something, Jeff?
Yeah just that we're using the higher powered strips in the back so that we can, if we want to we can over expose and get a really bright line, especially because we're going through a box. We're going through diffusion and of course if you're doing this on your own you can use regular gridded seven inch reflectors, stuff like that but then you start to run into maybe getting spill into your camera and then your shot is a little desaturated. You know you get some lens flare, stuff like that. But that's all stuff as an artistic, you know decision that you want to make. If you want flares in there, you might want it in. You might not want it in.
Cool, let's check it out, let's see how it looks. Okay so right now, he looks more like a bank robber, but we're going to try it, just for effect. Lets see what this looks like. And hey Cody, some things, Jeff what is that? I can see some white under his sweatshirt? Maybe just tuck that in so it goes all black. Yep, there we go, that's good. If we're going to go for that effect, I kind of want it to be all black. Okay, so I'm gonna shoot a bit tighter now because this is really about Cody. Okay, alright so I haven't changed my exposure, so I think we can give it more juice on those, on the back of the rims.
And you can see, I'm working on that one. This one is a little harder to see because we got our,
Yep, yep. Let's give it more power, so I'm 2000th of a second, 5.6, and that's kind of the beauty of high speed sync. I can really control mid day, that background light, which is pretty nice, it's real freedom, creatively. Okay so we're going to move the lights in. And Bly I think you can cheat your light in a little more as well.
Can I try a countdown with you, so I can try to catch your strobe?
Sure, how about I count down? Okay, in three, two, actually I'm going to scoot forward. Okay, in three, two and one. Alright, we're seeing a little more,
A little more pronounced rim. And what we're getting here, this is spill from our key light.
Right. We can also dial,
We can go to a smaller,
Yeah let's do that.
We can go to a smaller grid, smaller reflector,
Let's do it.
Tighter on his face.
Perfect. And Cody I think I am going to have you lose the goggles and face just so that we can really see you. Cool, yeah that's better, that's good.
I don't know if I brought any of the 20's or the 30's.
So what we're doing is we're actually changing the magnum with that grid with the 10 grid, with it's just too much spill light hitting Cody's shoulder so we're losing that right shoulder rim which is our second strip. So we're thinking if we can focus that using a smaller reflector, seven inch reflector, tighter grid pattern we can really focus that light right on his face, which is our front light, and then just rely on those two strips really for that rim light on each shoulder.
Okay I took you down a stop Corey,
But I moved in, I punched in a little bit
So we can get a little bit tighter,
Cool, let's see.
With a tighter grid.
Okay Cody, how about you're looking right at me. Yeah, see how that looks.
Have you wrapped him left as much as you are on the right?
Yeah you know, he actually does. Hey Bly, it looks like your light needs to come forward. Okay, there we go, and I'm trying to think, it almost, does it look like that Jeff's light is still more forward than you?
No, I'm more forward.
You are, huh? Okay, let me take another test frame. Okay Cody, go ahead and look up at me. (camera clicks)
It's just underpowered.
Where are you power wise, Bly?
Oh I'm full, full power.
Alright, let's see what's going on, here.
You know, what we can do, we can kill our key.
Let's just see, yeah. Okay.
So, we're going to go ahead and turn off.
Okay, so we're going to isolate our two rims and figure out what's going on and the easiest way to do that is to kill our key light. And, okay how's that looking, Brent?
Still got a stronger rim.
Yeah we're definitely still looking stronger out of that pack on the right.
Yeah that's just positioning, I think, so.
Okay, is it just, I can actually see more of the strip on the right. The skiers right, so Bly I think you might need to spin your light just a bit. The strip towards his shoulder.
A slight, yeah right there. Not too much, yeah.
Yeah, that actually looks more similar, okay. Definitely still more less juice is coming at him. Alright, this is what you call a normal technical issue. Trying to figure out why a piece of equipment isn't functioning the way you think it's functioning.
Try that again.
Okay. Oh, we had to turn the pack on. No I'm just kidding, alright here we go. I can't see from there.
You're getting it on his helmet, and you're not getting it on his feet.
We're actually seeing light on his helmet, but we're not seeing it on his shoulder or body.
Maybe you just need to flatten, not bring it down too much.
Okay, let's see, I think we're having a firing issue. Okay that's pretty much in frame but let me try it.
Well now we got the rim.
And we also have the light.
It almost seems like that packs not giving us an equal amount of power. Is there extra diffusion in that strip?
No, just that front sheet.
We switched the heads, do we have a separate head?
We can try another head.
Let me just pull this out.
It's part of the deal. This is how it works, sometimes the lights don't cooperate. Let me jump in there and help, here. You guys can see what's happening. We're getting really nice sculpted light on this right side, and we're just not getting it on the left.
Yeah I can see how,
I don't know if it's the head or the pack.
It's plopping in.
We've moved this light in significantly, we're just not getting the same power output.
Let me switch it out.
From this left pack, or left edge so, try to figure that out, and we'll get back to shooting. Cody you're doing great, thanks for barring with us.
Give us a couple minutes Corey, and we're gonna reconfigure.
That's okay, I can hold the strip.
I'm gonna, I'm gonna rebuild it. I think what's happening is it's collapsing a bit, so you're getting less light.
Maybe even just pull it out, and once we swap the head, even if it's just manually standing there.
Oh yeah, definitely.
Okay, let me take that head off. I'll walk this guy in. Okay, great.
Hang on, this oughta help.
So, a big part of trying to do on location lighting, is actually trying to problem solve, and then that will be, Jeff right now and again it comes down to there's an infinite number of things that could be going wrong, or could be working. Jeff is rebuilding the strip right now. He thinks maybe it was blowing in on itself, actually of course limiting the amount of light. We also swapped out the head, we will see what it really was or if we just solved the problem. Could be the way it's built, could be that it's pushing in on itself. It could've been the head, could've also been our pack. And so we, you go through a process of elimination and you try to trouble shoot. And again I go back to that philosophy of, right now this is sort of icing on the cake. We already made a cool portrait, we made a nice frame with one light. Now as you start adding two more lights, there's kind of that much more potential for something to go wrong and so that's exactly what we're doing. Tried to troubleshoot, tried to solve the problem. Turns out we can't solve the problem. Our next solution, it might not be enough power would be we take strips off and we allow, we use seven inch reflectors if we have to. We can even replace this head with one of these mono blocks. Not the ideal situation, but it's an option. You know redundancy is kind of key when you're shooting, whether it's lights, or whether it's lenses, or whether it's camera equipment, those things break, and it's always how are you going to keep this show on the road, how are you going to keep making pictures when equipment is not cooperating exactly the way you want it to cooperate. Okay so Jose, it looks like your strip is not pointed, maybe Jeff you mind aiming that strip just show Jose where it should be, and then he can hold it. I think let's go on your head with the helmet. Cool, okay. Let's see, I can't actually see this computer. Cody let those skies lean in a little more across, and maybe it's even hands out of pockets where you're resting them on the ski. Let me see you do that, kind of both hands. What's the most comfortable if you're gonna hang out for 20 minutes and talk to me. Where would your hands be? That's kind of cool, I might need you to, I like that, but I think I need you vertical just for this, just so we can figure out the light. Cool let's see, okay. Okay, Jeff I'm 2000th of a second, 5.6, 100 ISO.
If you can, let's get, let's see. You're at 5.6?
Why don't you go to four, and we need to reposition the ski.
Okay, yep I can move those in.
That's way to much, that's at four?
Yup, that's four, here's 4.5.
Yeah, there we go.
He's getting too much ambient at that.
Yup, so now, this,
back at 5.6,
This is five right here.
I can dial down your key.
Did that not fire, Bly?
That's good, five's good.
Okay cool, and are you seeing rim on both sides?
I am except that his skies are blocking.
Okay Cody so let's try, let's try to stack your skies in front of you, like you're almost leaning on your skies. Like hands up, yeah something like that. And how about hands out of the pockets? I know that was comfortable but, um how about both sides, yeah let's try that.
It'll hilt a little, probably.
Cool, there we go, alright. (camera clicks) Okay.
Are you getting it now?
I'm kind of relying on you or Brett to look in there.
Is that working?
You got rim on both, now.
Oh that's good Cody, I like it crossed up. That's great.
Just hold that front open.
Yup, that's really cool. Okay, yeah that's good, Cody.
There you go.
We got no fire. Is that not firing?
Did you bump it?
Okay that's on, I must have touched it. Here we go.
Okay you got edge on both sides.
Okay edge on both, good! Okay let's fire up the other head. Cody just like that, you're going to lean down and just barely look up at me, so I just want to see your eyes come up. Lean down like look down, and then okay, just bring your eyes up, there you go.
Need to dial that back.
Okay yeah, let's bring that head down.
Take the key down a little bit, maybe half a stop, or two-thirds, yeah.
And Cody, kind of chin down. Good, just like that. And then your bring your eyes up just slowly, like go all the way down, all the way down, like look down. And then just bring your eyes up from right there without moving your head, there we go. Great, let me check that, I kind of like that moment. How does that look, light on his eyes. Are we getting it? Okay let me just step in. I need his eyes up a little bit higher. Cool, right that's coming together. Alright Cody it's starting to work so now we'll really get into posing here. Okay there we go, okay are we seeing eyes there?
Yup, there's light on his face for sure. Are you -
2000, f5, 100.
Are you favoring the left?
Yeah I framed it out. For some reason, if I move, I can't center him or I start getting Bly's strip. Maybe that's because I need to move. Are you just seeing more flair on that side?
No it's just, the image is just, compositionally heavy, but it could be used for print or something like that.
Okay Cody, on three, go ahead and close your eyes and I'll just count to three and then open them, okay one, two, and three, great. See how that looks. Looks like we didn't,
Key didn't fire.
Okay let's try that again. One of our lights misfired, and one, two, three. Did that fire, cool. Chin up a little bit more, Cody. And Jose can you go and just straighten out the mask that's on Cody's face. Yep, so there's just no white showing.
Can you go a slight bit tighter.
It's good just in front, that did it. Cody just did it, it looks good.
You're still getting a little bit of Bly's strip, can you go in a little tighter?
That's at 200, let me move in. Okay one, two, and three, great. How's that looking, Jeff?
That looks pretty nice.
Let me just lean in.
and I think that it's, working the expressions.
Yup. It's pretty new, are we getting catch light in his eyes?
We can bring the head down slightly.
Yeah, just punch in on that slightly. I think we might want to bring the head down because,
Yeah he has squinty eyes.
Yep, cool, I'll have him open his eyes a little more, and then let's also,
Bring the head down?
Yeah head a little down. Cody that looks pretty sweet. So you can close your eyes, and I'll just do that through three count again, and kind of just exaggerate how wide, not like beady eyed but just like really open them up so I can see your eyes. Okay and we're gonna wait for this cloud for a second so that we're not competing with the sun. (camera clicks) I just wanted to get one that was wide, okay.
I moved you in about, two inches, too.
Okay, let me check, okay Cody. Actually let's wait for the cloud, you're good. You're chilling. Waiting, that's part of the game. Waiting for the sun, or the clouds.
We're definitely getting catch light in his eye now, so just make sure he's opening.
Okay Cody, eyes closed, and one, two, three, good. I think that was eyes wide open. Let me check that out. Nice that looks awesome, and go ahead and zoom in on that. That's great, that's really great, cool. So Cody I think that looks good with your green sweatshirt and your eyes are actually coming off like blue-green which looks really good. Okay let's try a couple more, and one, two, and three. Good, okay, I want to do one more and then we're gonna pull the buff down just so that we can actually see your face. Let's wait for shade, how was that with the sun out?
If that last one was sun out, it looks pretty much the same.
It does, okay, and let me try one more. Cody, going on three, one, two, and three. Tell me if that looks the same because if so, we'll just shoot through it.
Did something change?
Yeah the sun was totally out. And I'm still 2000, yeah I think the look of full sun.
Well check out this, look at this edge, didn't fire.
Yeah the first one didn't Fire, and now it's firing.
Okay looks like we got cloud cover. Alright here we go Cody, there we go that's good. Buff down, and one, two, and three. Great, how's that looking, did it all fire?
Let's try one more, just look right at me, there you go, good.
Keep him centered frame.
Great, great. Even a little bit of a smile Cody, like you're actually happy. Pretend like you're having fun, there you go. Great, good, that looks awesome. Alright, good, and real serious, game face. Eyes wide open on three, one, two, and three. Close them for a second, Cody. One, two, three, great, let me check that one. Looks pretty cool. What was the difference?
Yeah I'm tryna see. Was that just sun difference right there?
Maybe, are those the last two frames? Yeah it's just power, maybe like cycle time?
Just for the sake of a Red Bull shoot, what do you think about him just taking off those goggles so his helmet can push forward more for branding?
Yeah that will be a style question for him. All these park guys, they don't like to take their goggles off on their helmet, let's try it. Hey Cody, how do you feel about losing your goggles for a shot. Like taking them off from like underneath your helmet. (laughs) I was just trying to prove! Do you have a branded Red Bull hat? Yeah let's lose helmet and goggles. And actually let's lose skies and poles as well, so it will just be standing your hands in your pockets. Okay, so let's do this. I think we're actually gonna shoot Cody with just his hat on, and then we're gonna try if we have enough time, just let the guys take one more lap up, is the chair already closed?
In order to make it,
We'd be cutting them. Okay let's send Dylan now, so let's send Dylan down. Hey Dylan, I think we're gonna send you so that you can, oh, hey Dylan, I think we're gonna send you down to the chair, and reset you for hitting the jump one last time.
And then Cody, I'm gonna shoot a few frames and then we'll send you right away to get on the chair so we'll kind of end with one more shot of you guys going over the jump.
You want me to jump out right now?
Yeah, I'd say go for it, just so you don't miss the chair. Okay here we go Cody, let's shoot a few, alright. And I want you Cody looking just slightly off this direction, there we go, perfect. And we're just waiting for the clouds. Standby for a second. Yeah and you can go ahead and close your eyes, and I'm turning his head ever so slightly so that we can actually see Red Bull branding. Okay hold on we're waiting for clouds. (camera clicks)
Everything is firing.
Yup, there we go. That's cloud, almost.
Just watch that edge, and watch that slide box.
Okay, and how are we doing on cloud cover?
Got about a minute, or minute and a half.
Cody it might be a minute. You can close your eyes if you want. Is it valuable for you guys seeing the lighting setup?
Good, good good.
I like doing side lights like this. Like doing off hand and back light.
I don't often put a front, sometimes I just let it flair out.
And just like edging people.
I don't get the opportunity to do it in the mountains.
That's the beauty right? When you bring it into the mountains.
Okay, we're almost, I feel like it just shifted a little.
I feel like it should be, like a little wider behind the scenes.
Okay here we go, here we go. Okay Cody on three, one, two, three. Looking right at me, great, one, two, close your eyes. And one, two, three. Great, how is that looking?
Good, everything's firing.
Great, let me just lean in. Cody if this looks good I'm going to send you down to jump on the chair. That looks pretty good.
Next to last, that's the last one.
Cool, that looks great. Let's show Cody and then we'll send him down. That's zoomed in, and then pull out. Definitely looks different than the human eye, cool. So Cody, if you're willing to, let's jump on skies, and we'll do one last little session over the lip. So guys I think the goal is, let's everybody, we're obviously shooting with available light. We're not gonna reposition lights for this one. I think everybody find your own spot. Be conscious of, we can't control the light. We'll probably just gonna send them. If we can wait for a pocket of sun we will. But I think this is just an opportunity to sort of, we spent the whole morning looking for little kind of windows, or opportunities, different angles. Let's all find our positions, we're probably 10 minutes out from actually having the guys hit the jump. And let's see what we can do in this last leg of a day. (off camera speaking) Alright, sure, so one of the things that you might have noticed if you were watching from home, or even standing right here. And there was a little bit of dialogue that folks didn't hear on camera. Was around this whole idea is working with a brand. And if we were shooting this for Red Bull, one of the things that Red Bull has done an incredible job at is really putting branding on helmets, hats, ballcaps, beanies, T-shirts, jackets, in various places on the athletes body. And so when you're shooting a portrait of course, the easiest way to at least tell the viewer that this is the Red Bull athlete or this person is associated with Red Bull, is to make sure you're actually seeing either prominently or subtly that branding on the hat. And I think Red Bull has done an incredible job of sometimes keeping that pretty subtle, and sometimes making that really overt. In this case, we did it in two different ways. One Cody had a helmet one, it's a Red Bull branded helmet. By default it's in every photograph we shot, whether it's on the rail, whether it's in the air, or whether it was the portrait. As soon as he lost the helmet, we shot with his beanie. And it wasn't spun directly forward, so it's front and center, Red Bull branding, but it was subtle enough and clear enough that it's there, it's present, you always know that Cody has an affiliation with Red Bull that he's a Red Bull athlete. And that's something that you have to be conscious of, if you're out here working for the brand. If you are a Red Bull photographer, that's something you're expected to come back with. It's the action shots, wide, medium, and tight. You're trying to come back with little lifestyle moments from the side. It's waiting, it's getting ready, it's the concentration before and after. It's the celebration after success, but also it's the portraits. It's images that can be used in a profile. It's a headshot, it's a photograph that still says Red Bull, but makes Cody look compelling and ties it back to Red Bull. So just something that we're thinking about. You guys know this, you guys do work for Red Bull, but for those that are at home, it's pretty valuable and important to be thinking about. And Red Bull's a company that's pretty impressive in that they have clear guidelines and expectations. So there's lots of examples for when you get that first assignment for Red Bull, you're gonna get a PDF with some pretty great guidelines and examples of what works, what doesn't work, how they like to see their brand. And I would encourage you, no matter who you're working for, whether that's Red Bull, or a clothing company. Whether it's a shoe company, you wanna ask what are their brand expectations and how do they like to see their brand portrayed in photographs. How dominant should that logo be. You know there are brands out there that don't like to see their logos, and there are brands that like to see them front and center. So it's really just understanding from your client, what do they like so you can accommodate those needs in the field. One question, and this is to off camera, are there any questions from home? Because then I can, maybe I'll let you guys start seeking out your positions if you want. And I can try to field a couple of questions if there are anything that viewers have remotely.
What's the hood around your laptop?
Ahh, this glorified piece of cardboard and plastic, is a hood so that we can actually see our laptop screen outdoors. This is a great experiment to do at home. Take your Macbook Pro, outside into the sun, and try to look at the screen. And what you'll find immediately is that it's really difficult to do. And so this hood just allows us to block some of the sun while we are trying to review pictures. I think if you tuned in late to today's program, or this last segment, you can see I'm shooting in a way which is called tethered. And so the camera, my Nikon D5 is actually tethered through a USB cable into my Macbook Pro, we're using Capture One. And so when you're tethered you actually can't see the back of the camera. You can only look at the images online, and the reason we're doing that is so you can see the images at home right now. And so it creates a bit of a challenge especially in an outdoor environment like this where it is really really bright sun. It's bright sun, bright snow, lots of reflection. And so by putting this hood around our laptop, we can actually see the image, hopefully. So that's really why we're using it.
Not an environment, how do you work on getting gear up the mountain? Who do you work with, as far as production?
Got it, that's a great question. So we obviously brought a lot of equipment up unto the hill today. We started shooting with available light, we then did some lit action on the rail, and then we did a beautiful portrait of both Dylan and Cody. You'd be pretty hard pressed to do what we just did, in fact I wouldn't encourage it, if you just buy a lift ticket and show up for the day because we're kind of blocking the features, you'd really upset folks in the park. So you wanna make sure your footprint is in accordance with what the ski resort is comfortable with. If you're doing it professionally, if Red Bull calls you and says, we want you to go out and shoot a picture of an athlete, the first thing you're gonna do is reach out to that ski resort, to their marketing department, and you're gonna explain what you're doing and you're going to ask permission. The idea is that you can get some extra help. Maybe you can get mountain operations to carry your gear on a snow mobile before the resort opens, or carry it down it in the aftermath. Otherwise, you just need manpower. Either you're gonna go alone and you're gonna do several trips or you're going to have a compact kit. Or you're going to enlist some of your friends or assistants so that you can actually carry more equipment up at once. Working in parks like this it's really important to just be very conscientious of what's happening around you, you know? Guys, one of the scariest things I think I do is work at ski resorts, when the resort is open and I'm shooting in kind of the public space because what you'll find is that people are on their own agendas, it's very uncommon to have folks standing there with cameras and poles sticking up and so safety becomes a real concern, you do not want to be in a place where a skier can't see you. They come ripping around a corner, or they come over the jump and you're in the landing zone. So communicating with the ski resort, wearing bright clothing so that if people are skiing fast, you know you have a camera out, and don't make assumptions. You want people to see you, be prepared for someone to ski in and spray your gear. It might not be intentional, it might be intentional. Don't leave your bag open, that's one trick that I learned. You don't set your camera down, open the bag, pull out a lens and leave it open because inevitably that same funny guy on the chair lift comes skiing down and fills your bag full of snow so be conscious. Safety is a real concern when you're shooting during public hours at a ski resort. We have the great fortune of having a closed park, or at least this section and so we can kind of eliminate that safety issue and that concern of getting hit by a skier that's unaware you're there.