Capturing Variation with Snow Park Athletes
We're at 100 ISO, 1600th of a second, F5. Dylan does body position, I think it looks good.
Yeah it looks good, I could be a little more upright.
Are we going off the tether as well?
Uh, you know why don't we do this. Do we want to, or the other option is just that I hand them the camera. Let's do that, do you want to just shoot on this camera? It's your frame, I think it'll be the same lens, perfect. You got a D5, we're set up for back button focus right now, so pre focus I'm going to stand on this side of you. So wherever you want to be, don't feel like you're restricted to shoot, shoot wherever you like. So the spot is really, I'm gonna show you. So this is sort of the sweet spot right here, and you can try it, his body is obviously kind of downhill.
The frame is not coming up.
Oh yeah you can't, you won't see it. That's shooting tethered right there.
Out of focus.
Jeff, does that seem like, is this the spot?
No that's definitely the spot.
Cool, so I think you're ju...
st, you're really looking for this vertical stanchion here, of this vertical section. If you get here, it's almost too late, so.
Okay so, for everybody else, we're just gonna shoot it natural light.
Okay so why don't you let me know when you're ready, and I'll give him a shout.
Ready when you guys are.
Okay Dylan when you're good, let's do it!
Alright everybody, three, two, one. (camera clicks)
A little early.
Yeah slightly early.
You can zoom in a little bit. So you're wanting to hit right,
And again it takes a little bit. You saw me miss it like four times in a row.
Don't worry about it. I think now you understand kind of the timing. Let's give him a chance to.
Oh yeah yeah, that's what I had trouble with. Yeah, cool.
Great. So, Dylan are you willing to, you can take your time and hike it but I think we'd love to lap it.
Awesome, that looked good.
Just as soon as I get up there, do you want me to keep going?
Well, I'll always yell to you because we're waiting for that cloud cover to come in. We can't shoot when we get sun because we can't overpower that sun and the angle of that sun is changing, so we'll kind of give you the cue each time when we're ready. Cool, thanks.
Got another question for you.
While we're waiting, how do you decide where to put your lights or how many to use? Like is there a rule you use to kind of?
Right, and Jeff, you can jump in on this as well. Jeff and I have worked on a lot of projects together where it's really about more than one light source, but we're using multiple light sources. The key is of course is using the sun. How do you leverage what mother nature is providing? So whether the sun is going to be your rim, and I often times like to use the sun as my rim or my edge light, and then I control, and it's in a low light situation. If we're the first 30 minutes of the day for example, or the last 30 minutes of the day, the last hour even, we can really get in with our strobe and overpower that sun then we can really shape the light that is our fill and use that natural light as the rim. I think in action sports environments, when you're working alone, it's really hard to add too many lights. I mean frankly, you need to carry it on your back. As you start working with, when you have a team, you can start adding more lights, but it turns out a two light set up being your sun and your strobe, you can do a lot of cool stuff with that. If we were doing this at seven in the morning, and the sun is over there, we might use that sun as a backlight, might have added an edge light that's uphill, and some fill from down here. That would be a two light setup. And then we're using the sun of course as our third light. You know there's no rule, which is you always use two lights, you always use three. It's that you look at the situation and you say, what can we do that's cool in this environment? What is the most aesthetic thing we can create? What's the most creative lighting set up we can use. And then you look at the reality and you say how many heads to we have, what's possible? How much time do we have.
How much power do we have?
Yeah that's right. How much power, and one of the realities is, it goes back to what we did this morning. Start simple, like shoot something that is going to work first, make sure that you have that in the can, then start adding heads. I've done it, and I've watched people do it. You show up with this grand idea, you set up four heads and you're fumbling and you can't figure out what's not working and pretty soon you've lost your window and you never got the safe shot and you're complex shot doesn't work out either then that's kind of the worst case scenario, in my experience.
I think it's good also having a plan of action of what you want to do? Like doing a scout is great, taking your sun seeker app out when you're doing a scout and going okay, the sun is going to be here, here is the time of day that I have to shoot this shot. And then thinking about what kind of light you want to do, too, if you're looking at something at home or some of your inspiration. You go, I really love to make a shot like this. Really sit down, analyze what's in the photograph, think about how, whether they're using hard light, soft light, how much light is on the body, how much is on the environment. Really think about how you can craft it, and come in and have an idea and try to make that work and then you're at the point where you're problem solving. Well okay, this light's working really great for my edge light but it's flat up in the front so, maybe the fills too hot and dial the fill down a little bit so you can keep that drama in the front, but you still have information in there. So I think it's great to have a plan, and something that you want to do.
And that's why we got, we're about to lose the cloud cover I was gonna say, let's shoot. But I think we can keep on talking until we let that sun go behind the cloud again. I think Jeff said something that is really valuable which is looking at inspiration. I showed a Google search the other day in location scouting, but I'll also do the same thing when coming out to shoot. We're gonna be shooting in the park all day, doing a Google search, or looking at the Red Bull photo files, you get inspiration. It's not that you're trying to re-create an image, it's just that you're looking at lighting techniques and you're saying hey this works, or this doesn't work and then you craft it to become the image that's yours. You add your creativity. That looks like we might be getting right on the edge. Okay.
Alright, are we ready?
Yeah, let's do it, okay Dylan!
You just looked at those Red Bull photo files?
Six years ago.
Three, two, one!
That was my age, just looking down there. That's good, good good. How did that feel?
I think that was,
Hell yeah, nice, nice. That's nice, that's really nice. Definitely the sweet spot for light.
Are we zoomed in on that?
Yeah you're zoomed in, slightly.
The whole frame.
Cool. And you know,
You can see it, too with hard light now.
Yeah, yeah, and that was, wait are you saying that sun popped out? Yeah because we're seeing shadows there, which actually works quite well. You know I think it would also be fun to see this frame at 16mm and then include the lights? You know I'm not opposed to, certainly in the park world, it's acceptable to see that there's lights in the environment, I'm liking what you're doing. That looks good, and the light looks good. So we can try it a few times with hard light.
And that's another thought, too is that ideally we could put another light in and do an edge on the back side of him, but we also need to be concerned for the riders safety and where we can actually position lights, especially if you're using big stands like these, it's a little bit more cumbersome, where a smaller kit might be more ideal.
So Cody just got back at the very top, he's gonna do a big run in, and then a transfer.
Sean has the radio right now.
Stepping away for a second.
Alex, do you want to take a pass at shooting Cody here?
Okay, alright so, so his plan is to actually gap the entire rail. So he's gonna come in pretty hot.
Oh sweet, okay.
And but your, obviously your moment doesn't change. It's that one position between that snowflake and that vertical rail really on that vertical rail.
He's coming from straight on.
Correct, he's gonna come straight on. That's right Brett, he's coming from.
Corey, do you want me to pan with him a little bit with the light?
Well I think we should keep it static right now. Because my fear would be we have more variables, so my sense would be let's just give it a go. And guys definitely if you're not plugged into the lights, there's no reason you can't be shooting with natural light. I mean there's definitely plenty of opportunity. And one of the things that's a shot that gets used in the action sports world is using a slower shutter speed, and actually a tracking shot where you're panning with the subject so go into that, 60th of a second, 30th of a second range, and see if we can't actually track with the subject. And that can make even a pretty flat light a really interesting photograph. Okay so, we have a radio, you have a radio to Cody. How are you feeling Alex, you good?
Yeah I'm ready to go when you guys are.
Okay let's send him, are you pretty wide, like your 16?
Okay cool, just to play it safe. (radio beeping)
He's gonna jump in 30 seconds.
And again I think he's gaping here, so he'll be moving at a good clip.
Okay, you're just gonna call it as soon as he?
I'll do my best to time it.
And guys, I don't know if you heard this. Might be if you're not on strobe, it might be worth playing with slow shutter speeds. Either a tracking shot, or a burst of images. Cody's dropping?
You got some time still.
And when you have this spotter. You know Alex is shooting but I'm kind of spotting from, okay he's coming in.
Three, two, one.
And he's in the air. (group cheers)
I didn't, how did it feel? I didn't even see it.
I think it was close.
Oh I'm afraid, huh, I think it was a misfire. I don't think the strobes fired. Yeah I didn't see it fire either, let's see. No, were not firing.
Did it just fall asleep?
No, it doesn't usually fall asleep, until I think a half a hour.
Cool, sounds good!
Yeah, it just popped there.
Yeah, somebody may have bumped the on off button.
And I think this is just a good huge reality check. There is a lot of electronics involved right now. We're trying to tell the Profoto's to fire, and in a real event environment, it's painful when you miss a shot like that. But the reality is, we're not in an event environment and so Alex will have another chance in 12 minutes after Cody takes another lap on the chair. And I think there's a great note or lesson in that which is you're constantly, you know we just stood around for 10 minutes waiting. It's constantly, it's your job, our job as photographers is you're checking your system. Did I accidentally touch the dial, am I still at 1600th of a second. Am I still F5, is the transmitter on? So let's shoot it with Dylan.
We have cloud cover coming.
Is he gonna gap it as well?
No he's not gonna gap it, he'll be on the rail. Okay and that's kind of your limit there because you're tethered. (radio chatter)
Everybody kind of ready? Alright go ahead and drop. Coming in, three, oops slower, two, one.
Great, how was that, Alex?
Good, let's check it out. Nice job Dylan, nice. And I would say, you know light wise I think you nailed it, it's the perfect moment. Let's see what Dylan thinks about his body position. Because I think that feedback, Dylan's feedback, the athletes' feedback, in terms of what they like, or don't like is pretty valuable. Okay cool we finally got you right in that sweet spot.
In terms of light.
Guess want me to keep walking?
Yeah, and could we stack a little snow right as you pop for the rail?
So we blow some snow in the air?
Yeah, you want me to put some on my?
Yeah, that would be good, put some on your board, just so that we get something happening in the frame.
Instead of it blowing off the board.
And this is kind of true in photography, once you sort of figure out your shot, you got your light right, now we can start refining the shot and evolving the shot so that it becomes more interesting.
You know in the park, putting it on the board, putting it near the take off, all of that stuff just makes for more stuff flying through the air and on strobes that can look cool. Yeah, it looks good.
Sounds good, I'll just put some, not a whole lot.
Great, thanks. You know the other thing that you guys can see is the difference between Cody's green sweatshirt versus Dylan's orange sweatshirt, huge difference. Like this pops, whereas Cody's green sweatshirt is pretty tough so there's always this dance or this balance between what can you talk the athlete into wearing. This morning we didn't film it but I stood at the tail gate of Cody's truck with his dad and Cody, and Cody had sort of the green bright sweatshirt. He had like a baby blue camouflage style jacket, and then he had like a black jacket, and immediately the black jacket was no way, because look at what we're dealing with. Dark trees in the background, or dark blue skies are how our day started and so, we went for the green which was at least vibrant, but there's still a big difference between you know green and orange so I always tend in general lean towards bright colors, if we have control over what they're wearing. Did anyone try a tracking shot?
I tried with Cody but he just overshot that and I was gonna shoot actually long because I'm not hooked up to strobe so I went back to shoot the long shot and I looked at it and there was too much going on to really separate even at a shallow depth to track him so I switched to the fisheye. But he just blew past that so unexpected of course, but I'll try it again when he comes back.
Cool, sounds good. How did that look?
I had the slow shutter.
Oh good, lets check it out.
See you can see right here.
Oh yeah, yeah yeah that's great. It looks like that frame you nailed him. What is this, 60th of a second?
Nice job. And I think what's unique, and if you're watching from home right now, you can't see the back of the camera, but later of course, either later today if we can manage it, or certainly if you download the course later, you can see this photo. It's really beautiful in the sense that from the same environment, even while working with the strobes, Alex nailed the shot with strobes, and simultaneously a tracking shot is captured. It just goes to show you that in any lighting environment, there's an infinite number of ways, maybe not infinite, but many ways you can approach that subject, so beautiful shot. I think it looks really good, really good. Simultaneously you guys nailed it.
So he's ready.
Want to do another shot?
Yeah, Alex let's try, why don't you, let's even frame the lights into the shot? Like let's actually, there's no reason that we can't reveal to the public, that the lights are in there. And again feel out, if you need to, we can move the table up hill. How did you like that look? We could even go wider if you want.
You want to take a look at this on the screen?
Sure yeah, go ahead and pop it. That's kind of cool.
So I'd like to send him, are we good?
Eh, I don't know if that does much for me, to be honest, what about actually scooting back so we can reveal the chair lift? Although if we do that we're gonna be revealing the light. Let's try one with the lights in the shot.
With the light in the shot?
Yeah yeah, why not?
Yep, let's do it.
Alright Dylan, go ahead and drop. Dropping. Three, two, one.
I think it's cool, I like it, it's different. You know it's bringing something else back, it's different. What would be nice, thanks Dylan good job! Maybe what we can do is switch to a fish eye, go really wide and maybe we can actually scoot back behind the chair lift so it's kind of, small figure in the landscape. Chair is moving as a graphic element over the top of the frame, and again this is kind of hard to do when we're tethered to the table but we have enough manpower, lets pick up this table, and kind of scoot it back. This is why an ice ax comes in handy. Dang, that was pretty good leveling. Okay so Alex let's see what we got here. I'm not playing favorites just because he's on Nikon but.
Mike can also, Mike can shoot on that camera as well.
Oh yeah, that's true, yeah.
Yeah for sure.
If you're not allergic to it.
Yeah like, my hand might burn or something.
How is that, we can also, cool, let's see it. And let's shoot, let us know what's in the frame. I'm going to move that Profoto bag out. You know paying attention to all of those little details in the frame make a difference. So we talked about it yesterday, in post processing or post production. Sure you could remove that bag later but, it's a lot of work so if you see it in the frame, solving it in camera is much better than solving it in post production.
Alright, I think we're gonna have a big cloud cover coming.
Alright, how does that look?
Looks good, we're just gonna have to time.
Okay and let's guys, lets clear everybody that's on this side of the pole. Let's just scoot to this side. And let me see the frame.
Did that not fire?
There we go, oh that's cool with the chairs. I wonder if we should even go wider. Do we have a fisheye down here? Let's see, Alex lets switch it out. Just so that you get more chair lift, more graphic element.
Is that cool if I post like far wide left?
Let's see once we put on this lens, and see how that looks, okay. See how wide that is.
We could also do one of those seven inch reflectors, do something wide that is actually in the frame. See the light.
Right right. It would actually bleed out.
Yeah so we can see it.
What if you tilt up a little, Alex, so we get more of that chair lift? This is like an almost moment. Yeah what if like, I know you're tethered, so it makes it pretty tough. Why don't we actually just untether for a second, and okay. Okay we're gonna untether, we're feeling a little restricted, tied to this table on the side of the hill, so this will give Alex the opportunity to really figure out where is the best shot, and how does he frame the chair in the shot. And again what Alex is doing is exactly right. It's sort of you walk around, and you try to figure out where is that best position to shoot the photograph. I'm guessing this is a new style of pressure for Alex to be live, and all of us watching him. Alex did you find the perfect shot?
This stuff's good but we almost need to move everyone back even more.
Let's move everybody back guys. Let's scoot everybody back. Okay are backpacks an issue? We have enough hands, let's do it.
You wanna look at that?
It's kind of cool, it's different, yes.
So when Dylan's gonna drop, when Cody drops next time, his intent is to actually make contact with the end of the rail. It's just that he overshot it last time. So his goal will be to land on the lower third of the rail.
Let me know when you want Dylan to go.
Okay, we're just getting organized.
I got two clouds coming. And if he's gonna miss, is there a possibility the back way?
Yeah I think if you're like down in the trees, yeah go for it, that's great. And if you're not feeling the fish eye, that's okay. Just exploring options, here.
Yeah it's a little, I don't know. It is kind of cool the environment but.
What if you actually go to 2000th of a second? Just to bring that ambient down?
Where is it on this camera?
Oh it's up here.
Okay, and let's see a test frame. So that starts to help, it really starts to just make that pop. Maybe even try 2500th of a second. Yeah that's looking more interesting. Yeah one of the decisions you can make later is are you gonna just comp out that light stand? Or is the light stand gonna stay? But that's the angle that's gonna look a lot more compelling to me.
Let's try one with Dylan, we got him there. And if you like that frame, let's give it a go. Okay Dylan, let's do it.
Alright, Three, two, one.
Oh really, he's still in the air.
Oh yeah, literally, okay. That's alright, that's why repetition is the key. Do you want to switch out, if you're not digging the fish eye.
Yeah it's not my thing.
Yeah what do you want? Maybe we will just tether again.
Yeah back to the -
Yeah, yeah. I mean I think an option to go is 24-70, or you can get on a longer lens and really like compress the shot. So that maybe we don't show entry to the rail and exit to the rail, but let's throw on a 70-200 if you want and see what it looks like. I don't think it'll be ideal for Cody.
Cody's gonna go big.
Yep, your call, Alex. Do you want 16-35?
Yeah I'll take it for both.
There you go.
So Cody's gonna be harder to find with cloud, he's got a long run in.
We'll just kind of wait for a little gap. I mean ideally we'll wait for a window where we get them, if not. Cool, is that your spot right there? Because if so we might tether you, and if not, we'll go untethered and the audience at home can see it later.
For Cody's I kinda wanted to go closer and wider again.
Let's try it, let's just try it untethered and we'll look at that frame later. Okay this will be the last, we will take one more pass guys, and I think I'm gonna let Alex since he's owning the camera right now, he's got the timing down. We'll shoot Dylan once more, and Cody once more. A great question came in from the audience at home and that is the advantage of being handheld versus tripod. And the beauty of handheld of course is that you can fine tune your frame constantly. You can make adjustments based on what's happening around you. In this environment, where we're trying to pick one location, we could theoretically put it on a tripod but the downside to a tripod is that it's more gear, right? You gotta carry more equipment up the hill, and ski down with that equipment. Now today, that might not have mattered because we have a crew and we're obviously carrying some pretty heavy stuff like tables, and laptops but if I'm working alone, or you're working alone, carrying a tripod is just more stuff. I find that 99% of the photos I shoot, they're handheld and that gives me the agility and the ability to move quickly and make fine adjustments to the frame because a great photograph is about that subtlety about what you're putting in that rectangle.
Do you use a slow shutter, or a second shutter?
Yes that's another great question from folks at home. Yes we could use a slow, we could drag the shutter, or use rear curtain sync if it were darker out right now. It's really hard to do that, we either need a lot of power in those strobe heads because we would be putting an ND filter on the lens to bring the light down so ideally we would definitely experiment with that if we were in lower light morning or evening would be perfect for dragging this shutter. And it's a good looking, actually it's a good looking frame when we do it. Alright I'm getting the thumbs up that we're close, so it looks like Cody, alright so Cody's ready. Alex, how are you feeling?
I'm feeling good.
May be wider but, it might be a cool shot right here.
That's alright, so he's gonna be coming in pretty hot. Hey Brett, does he have a radio?
Does he have a radio?
Okay. Maybe just make sure he knows that there's a photographer, no no, just so that he's conscious and he sees that. I assume he does.
Cool, and how hard, if you wanted to take a light stand out?
You know it wouldn't be very difficult. Yeah taking the light stand out in this case. The question was, if you wanted to take out the light stand because we're shooting this in such a way that you either accept that it's in there or later you're gonna remove it. And given that it's stacked against the green tree and it's stacked against white snow, as long as it's not intersecting with Cody, it's pretty to remove. I don't wanna say easy, but it's gonna take time, it's possible to remove it. Okay, so Joe you're good? Alex you're good?
Okay, let's actually wait for the cloud. Let's send him.
Alright let's go for it.
Okay he's just starting to ski, so he's a couple seconds out, alright. Okay he's coming in super fast.
Three, two, one.
He's in the air. Cool that was great, how did that go?
Oh man, I blew it.
Early, shot early? That's alright hey, that's the nature of the game. The reality with stuff like this is, it comes down to, it's that one depression of the shutter. Don't be discouraged at all, the reality is this just takes time, and practice. It's muscle memory to make that happen. Truthfully, I'm relieved that you were shooting instead of me because I would've missed it, too.