Conceptualizing the Shot: Using Strobes in Indoor BMX Park
We're gonna start the segment by coming back to that wall and trying to add light, try to control what's happening in the background. I think, guys, from your perspective, now that we're on lights, I'm going to be shooting one frame at a time. I think you guys can take the situations and try to shoot. Corey's going to be riding a lot. There's still pockets of available light. Apply what we just talked about. Try to make frames because there's definitely a lot of time where I'm on a single set of lights. So this segment, we're gonna focus on using strobes. We're working with Red Bull athlete, Corey Martinez. Amazing BMX street rider. We're at Woodward, Truckee, California. And one question that came in at the end of last segment was "How was I focusing?" There's a lot of questions that were coming in online. "What was the focus scenario?" So I was ... Usually I'm always in an autofocus mode, meaning I'm using my thumb to focus. I set it to the AF on. I focus, and then I press my shutter...
when I want to take a picture. Now, a lot of what Corey was doing, I knew exactly where Corey was going to be, and so I would pre-focus and then I never messed with my focus again. Right? I wasn't trying to track Corey through the frame. Only one shot required tracking, and that's when he went over the gap through that pocket of light. Everything else he was in a singular location that was predetermined, so I'd pre-focus, and I would autofocus to do that. I'd autofocus on the location he would be, locked my focus, and then I'd depress the shutter when he moved through the frame. That's the beauty of shooting available light is you can motor drive it. You know, 12, 13 frames per second. One of those frames usually will work if you have your exposure locked in and conceptually, you've come up with a decent idea. And that's what I would encourage of you guys on this pass. There's gonna be a lot of waiting. You guys saw it yesterday when we were ... You guys know from experience when we're working with strobes. Take advantage. Shoot with natural light. Don't feel like you're tethered to me. Make pictures while I'm trying to fumble with the strobes because I'll burn a lot of time doing that. So, let's go ahead and spin ourselves this direction. You can see Jeff and Blyer down there, scratching their heads, looking at our Profoto packs right now, and we took advantage of the break to try to figure out what we're going to do. In segment one, there was a moment where I was sitting on the ground here on a 200-400mm lens, looking at this wall. Corey agreed he could actually do something on the wall there. So now the goal will be how can we change that photograph by adding light, and making it interesting? Yesterday, we had a question come in around why am I not using a tripod? And this is a great example of where a tripod works. I'm going to frame that shot perfectly. Corey's going to be going through the same spot, and wobbling with the 200-400 doesn't make sense. It's heavy enough... I'm pretty strong, but... (laughs) It's heavy enough that putting it on a tripod actually makes sense here. So I pulled out a slightly beefier set of Manfrotto tripod legs. I'll compose the shot, and I think just for those folks that didn't see Segment 1, I'm gonna shoot the picture in natural light first. We'll look at it. It's not that great. It's a moderately interesting picture, and then the whole goal of this segment is what can we do when we add light to make more interesting pictures? So hey Corey, maybe what I'll do is ... Give me a couple of minutes to just compose the shot, and then what I think I want to do is shoot first with just natural light. So, without the strobes.
I put on the gray jumper just to stand out a little bit.
So let's try that.
Great, great. And Corey, how often... Do you always ride in a ball cap, or do you ever ride in a beanie?
I got beanies, yeah. I'll put that one on too if you need that.
Cool. I would ... yeah, I think just given ... You know, one of the things about this entire CreativeLive course is we're using the concept of "This is a Red Bull shoot." And so I know that the feedback that I get when shooting for Red Bull is they wanna see different Red Bull branding. So, we just shot an entire segment with available light and the ball cap. Maybe we should switch to beanie or helmet, just so that we're mixing it up and we're showing ...
Yeah, I'll pull the helmet on. I got it.
Great. Yeah, let's do it. And helmet makes sense, then maybe we do portrait with a beanie on.
Cool. That's great. Okay. So, let me figure out where I gonna do this. By the way, I'll keep on of these sometimes in my car. It's just called an apple box. They're pretty cheap, and it just acts as... You know, if it's wet out, you can set your bag on it, you can sit on it, you can prop lights on it. I don't always have it if I'm moving kind of fast and light, but it kind of a nice way to work if you have the luxury. Okay. So this is the 200-400, and I kind of alluded to earlier, this is a Red Bull shoot, so I'm making certain that I leave that Red Bull branding in the shot. And I kind of feel like I wanna go lower. There's still some highlights down below. So think I need to get off of this apple box. Slide that out. If anyone wants this, feel free guys. It's available for sitting on. I'm okay, I think. So I'm just lowering the tripod. Okay. By the way, a good tripod, this is pretty valuable that you can actually continue to put the legs out further and further so that you can get lower positions. You're not locked into sort of the length of the legs. I just have a simple ball frotto, Manfrotto ball head on here. So it allows me to just really quickly articulate the camera, put it in the position that I want. That helps. I could still envision going a little bit lower, but I think for the sake of what we're trying to accomplish... Let me just see. Let's see if we even go lower. Okay. Oops. Alright. Okay so now we're even lower, and again, it gets a little more awkward, but it allows me to get to a better angle. Alright. Okay, so there's a pretty interesting graphic ... Brett, do you mind spinning that monitor so I can see it? (Brett mumbles) Yeah. Looks like I'm a little... (quick camera shutter) Okay, let's see.
Does that look good?
Yeah, it looks like I'm still unexposed. I'm not quite level. Let me actually at least get the exposure correct. I'm going to go up an ISO, I'm at 2,000 ISO, I'm gonna go to ... Let's see. It looks like I just went up 3,200 ISO, and we're definitely getting ... Let me straighten out my horizon. Okay. And there we go. Call that ... a little bit straighter. This is a heavy enough lens, and a light enough ball head that I kind of need to cheat this a little bit because it sags. Okay, that's looking pretty good. Okay. Okay, Corey, let's actually give it a go. And Bly, I might have you slip out slightly, just for one shot. Okay, Corey. If you're up for it. Let's do it. I went up to 4,000 ISO. It still looks a little under. (fast camera shutter) Great. Okay, so that at least gives us a sense of what's Corey gonna look like on the wall. Corey, I might have you even show me... tell me what's working, and what's not. Now, I'm cropping right to the top of the Red Bull frame, but I have a feeling Corey's gonna tell me I need to frame up higher, which is a little problematic. <v Corey M.>Well, it just all depends on what you're going for with the image.
So you're going as high as you can? You're going right to the lip of the wall?
With my comfort, yes.
I don't ride ramps this big.
So, depending on what we're going for, which right now is warmin' up doin' carves, your framing is fine. If you wanted to photograph me within the black area...
Yeah. You know, frankly for me ...
I can slow it down.
Yeah, I almost think I'd rather... Once you go above this Red Bull, the yellow line, it's a pretty ugly background.
Because of the light and everything coming through the back?
Now, if we had time, we could put a big 20-foot, black fabric up behind you, (Corey laughs) and just create something that's really dramatic.
You know, put you in the air and have you floating. But, because we're doing this quickly, my sense is I'd rather keep you in this space the whole time.
Again, if from a rider's perctive that's reasonable.
Yeah, that's fine, and like I said, I'm completely comfortable staying below the (mumbles)
Great, great. You know the other thing, and I'm gonna point this out because anyone that's looking at this photo ... and you guys can see this, these stickers are a real bummer.
Yeah, I mean...
Right in the middle of the wall.
If definitely sucks lookin' at something like that in a photograph. But, I don't know much about post-production stuff, but that's something hopefully you can take care of.
Yeah, yeah, well and we might even, to be honest, try to have somebody run up and throw a piece of gaff tape on there.
Guys, do we have a big piece of gaff tape, like a black piece of gaff tape?
Actually by my bag, that had a role of ..
We got it.
I mean maybe it's worth actually ...
Mid wall ride, you could reach over and tape it?
Gimme some rollerblades, and I got ya.
So I guess Corey, from my perspective, and again we're showing this photograph as a starting point. Here it is. It's natural light. It's not that compelling, frankly, like the light's pretty boring, there's not shaft of light hitting him. If this is all you had to work with, so be it. The sticker that bothers me the most is this one, with the white. Boy, if it's possible just getting a piece of gaff over that would be great. And if we can still get more gaff up, I think that other sticker ...
Hey, I don't know the deck is like, but hanging over, you could probably reach that, and possibly even peel it off.
- It's pretty far. (Corey laughs)
And this is good. This is good. Actually, this dialogue around, like, how to solve that sticker problem, this is real.
I mean if we were shooting ...
I mean we did come to those circumstances sometimes where we were in a situation like, a sticker sucks. Peel it off.
Right, right. And, we talked about on day one, the ethics of what we're allowed to do and what we're not allowed to do. If we're not allowed to alter the photo in post-production, we've kinda gotta solve this problem here. It's like peel ..
For sure. And I missed out on that part, that description, so, my apologies.
No, no, but if you and I were doing this for one of your sponsors, for Red Bull, and it was a commercial-style shoot not an event, you're right, we'd Photoshop that thing right out of there.
Instead, Jeff is up there ... Who knows...
Oh look, she's up there. She's got that.
Yeah, someone might even get hurt. Those are the best things. It's not a good shoot unless someone goes to the hospital.
Let me get my phone. I'll get you on Snapchat.
We did need the glacier harness after all. (Corey laughs)
Okay. So, Jeff, I mean, I'm sorry Corey, for the perspective of, so you're gonna stay under ... in this black lip area?
Yeah, if that's what we wanna go for?
I think it would help. I think it would help. And then I think our goal is, I'll shoot a few frames in ambient light, I think we're all gonna shoot with just natural light. Jeff just nailed one.
That was impressive.
This is good.
Hey. (Photographer laughs) Nice.
And this is something anyone on our team, it's beyond, they need to have skills as a photographer, lighting tech, or assistant Photoshop expert, they need a skill set like this. I mean, what Cat's doing right now, which is, this might be the most dangerous thing that happens on the whole CreativeLive course.
Yeah! Why is no one getting this?
Where's her belay? (Laughter)
At least, if she does go over, she has a lot of transition to slide down.
That's a good point. That's a really good point.
It probably would be pretty fun, actually. (Laughter)
Oh my god.
I think Bly must be holding her leg on the other side of the wall.
I hope so.
There's a good lesson in what you're seeing here: It's all about improvising, it's about making do with whatever you're working with, and Cat and Bly are doing a good job of covering the sticker with black gaff tape, and that's gonna make for a better photograph. Okay, so let me hunker down here. Hey, Jeff, so right now, I'm on, right? I'm just gonna turn off the head.
We've got just one light that's on.
Okay. I just turned it off from the ...
Yeah, if you just turn the whole thing off.
Not just the head...
Cool. Thanks, Cat! Okay, that looks good.