Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park


Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich


Lesson Info

Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park

Okay, Corey, I think when you're ready, we are sticker-free. So I'm pre-focusing on the wall, I'm at infinity, so the difference between the one foot, or the two feet that his head's gonna be away from the wall, doesn't matter. So now I'm finished using auto-focus, I'm locked-off, my focus position is correct, the stickers are gone. I'll just do a couple more carves. Perfect, that sounds great. Cool, that actually seemed to be just within the frame. That was great, Corey. Okay, it looks like he's gonna hit it again. Since I'm staying low, I can just jump from the concrete parts or the black parts. So this is looking good, you're staying totally within that realm. And is that, that's the spot. I mean, where is the peak action? It's either gonna be level, like I said earlier. When you're completely horizontal. Right, so when you're carving up the wall, if you're doing something, whether it's a trick or tucking, you wanna get the moment right there, the center moment of that...

tuck. Okay, good. So that's important, right? What Corey just explained, is that, from an endemic perspective, if I'm shooting this, not for the New York Times, but I'm shooting it for the BMX World or for Red Bull, this is what an athlete wants to see. This is what that audience wants to see. And it's really important to point out that what the endemic audience wants to see might be different than what National Geographic, or Time Magazine, or the New York Times will put on the cover of their paper or of their magazine, and so you're always trying to walk that line between what does the endemic audience want, what does the mainstream audience want, what makes a great photograph, what do the athletes think is great? But this is a Red Bull shoot, which fits into that endemic world, and so we're trying to make sure that we get him right there, and not at an odd moment. And so that was borderline, Corey, that was almost too high, like you crossed in-- What I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna try and do just a little chiller. So I'll jump up into the black, that way, tweaking it, the peak is right there. Awesome. I probably went too far. So let's do one more where I can just see that, like what the move will be, then I think, let's start adding strobes. Perfect. So I'm 1/1000th of a second, f/4, 4000 ISO on a Nikon D5, 200 to 400 millimeter lens. Cool, yup, that looked good. And Brett, can we check focus? Lemme just make sure that. And it looks like we lost a little bit of ambient light there. Oh yeah, that's sweet. That's kind of, essentially what I'm going for. All right, so, I think guys, from a light perspective, what we're gonna try to do is let's start simple. My philosophy always with lighting is let's not try to add three lights at once, or two lights at once, let's start simple. So right now, Jeff, my take is, let's actually just use strobe on the right. We're using Profoto Packs, and we have, what, is that the zoom reflector or the magnum on the right? That's the magnum with the ten-degree grid. Okay, so we're using a magnum with a ten-degree grid, this is allowing us to really channel all of the light, there's a silver reflector inside, and then the grid allows us to actually direct that light, so we're shaping the light. Now the goal is, and I'm glad that we just looked at a number of the natural light photographs. It's pretty boring. It's a pretty boring photograph. But we figured out the moment, that's the key. Corey explained to us what are we trying to accomplish, and so now we get to add the artistry of painting with light. Now we get to decide how do we make this a more compelling photograph. And I think it's safe to say that in the action-adventure sports world, the bar has been raised pretty high, when you can add light. In the Red Bull content pool, the pictures, oftentimes, that jump out at you, are the images that are the unexpected. And adding light is oftentimes what makes a picture a little more surprising, a little more dynamic. And so let's do a test frame. We obviously set up, we started moving the lights in position during the break, because we didn't. We're not dialed completely, so we can still work a little bit. Oops, and I just fired twice. So where are you at? I'm 1000, f/4, 4000 ISO. And are we definitely seeing? You're seeing, this is all daylight. So we wanna bring our ambient down. Okay, so we're gonna go to 2000 ISO. What were we on our ISO? I'm gonna go 2000 ISO, you want me to stay at 1000 ISO? 250 shutter, too, right? So these guys obviously spent a little time, during the break, figuring this out. And then you're at 5.6, yeah. Great, let's see what that looks like. There we go, so now we start shaping the light. So you just saw an ambient light exposure, which was 4000 ISO, 1/1000th of a second, f/4, so now we're bringing our ambient down, and we're exposing for our strobe. So, there we go, there's the difference. So that's why I'm using the magnum and grid is I wanna keep our pool of light fairly tight, so we can make a more dramatic-- And if my editors from Red Bull were channeling their messaging over my shoulder, they're gonna like this picture, because part of our highlighted area happens to be the Red Bull branding, and that's actually positive. So I'm gonna do two things, I still, actually let's, for the sake of education, I'm not gonna try to refine this frame. There's a few things about this I don't like, which is, I'm not even level, but I'm not gonna tweak that right now, and I'm not a huge fan of that highlight from the sun, in the lower-right side of the frame, but we're gonna live with it right now because this more about shooting, learning, going through the process, than actually making it perfect. So, let's actually put Corey in the frame and see what this looks like. Yeah, that's what I like to do. Okay Corey, when you're ready. We'll do a test on the strobes. Do the strobes now? Yup, let's do it. I just went to five, yup. Yup, let's do it. So now guys, I only get, I think I'm one frame. Yeah, you're one frame. Looks good. Okay so, compositionally. Yeah, compositionally. Corey, what's your take there, from a athlete perspective on this moment? Position and timing is great, depends on the look and mood you're going for. In my opinion it could be a little dramatic, but it's cool. I dig it. Can we zoom in, Jeff? I just wanna make sure I am actually sharp. There we go, razor sharp. Oh yeah. It's always hard when you're looking at this in low resolution. So that's good, now that I've confirmed we're sharp, I don't have to mess with focus. That focus plane is not changing. So one thing, this, just as a photographer, I like that I'm seeing the Red Bull on your helmet, but the flip side is I kinda wanna see some face. And I don't know if there's anything that we can do that allows us to see more of your face in that situation. Nothing from the back angle, back shot like this. Okay, so, which leads to, maybe the natural progression will be, let's shoot a few frames from here, but maybe I need to go in wider, so that I'm getting sort of underneath you. It might actually give me the opportunity to see more face in this shot, which will be valuable. So, body position, I like it. From a lighting perspective, it feels like maybe we could open up slightly, so it's a little less dramatic. Let me actually just make one adjustment. Is this a ten-grid? That's a ten-grid. That's what we got for the magnum. So I'd probably move to a zoom and see if we can, or I can switch over to the seven-inch reflector and go with a tighter-- One other thing that I wouldn't mind doing, could you bring this even lower? Almost put this on the seam of the concrete versus black? Because then we'll get a little more of this shadow carrying into the black, which might be a nice. What do you mean, lower in height? I can bring the light down, or we can switch to a different stand, I can go handheld, I've got a C-stand over there. The shadow cast on the wall-- Yeah, so I think if Corey does the move here, right on this, the concrete-wood seam, we'll get more of the shadow across the black. Let's see what that looks like. Yeah, I'll slow it down. Yeah, if you literally transplanted it right to the edge. I'll try it. We won't make any light adjustment, we'll just see what that looks like. Yeah. Cool, thanks. And again, a lot of this is just experimenting. It's figuring out what's working, what's not working. Okay, and yep, let's do it. That still felt pretty high. Yeah, no, that's okay. And it felt a little high. Good? Yup. I think from the perspective of, it could still come even lower. Oh gosh, it might be difficult because the way the transition is, I have to go to the top of the gray part to get that pop that I need. Got it, got it. Let's do this, let's see. Why don't we actually move in, because I am feeling like this is a great representation of what we can do from this distance. Let's actually move in and I'll switch to a wider lens, and let's just see what it looks like from that perspective.

Class Description

Being an action sports photographer is about more than getting freeze frames of famous athletes. It’s about documenting the experience of people for whom the line between passion and work is blurred. At his or her best, the action photographer tells compelling stories that show us at our most daring, fearless, and adventurous.

Corey Rich is one of the world's leading outdoor adventure and action sports photographers, adept at distilling the essence of extreme action sports and adventure travel and lifestyle.  In addition to documenting extreme sports for Red Bull, Corey has worked for many of the biggest brands in the world.  This is your opportunity to follow Corey as he prepares for a shoot on location, and learn how he evokes powerful brand stories like those he has made for Red Bull. 

Join us for this live class, and you will learn:

  • How to work with a client, and shoot with their brand in mind
  • How to prepare yourself and your gear for a shoot in an extreme environment
  • How to take photos of extreme sports pros, and work with variable light conditions

This class will stream live from the location of the shoot in Lake Tahoe. Corey will be shooting Red Bull athletes as they perform at Ski Mountain Terrain Park and at a nearby BMX park. There will also be a live session from a Tahoe cabin to discuss photo theory and Corey’s experience of building his photo practice and working for Red Bull. 


1Class Introduction 2What Makes A Great Action Photo 3Conceptualize the Shoot 4Research Location / Wardrobe / Props for Action Shoot 5Safety Tips for Action Photographers 6What Gear Do I Need? Packing and Prep 7Workflow and Asset Management 8Ingesting and Organizing Files 9Editing Down Your Selects 10Post Processing Overview 11Working with Clients to Select Finals 12Retouching & Post Processing: Image 1 13Retouching & Post Processing: Image 2 14Retouching & Post Processing: Image 3 15Final Client Delivery 16Introduction to Snow Athletes 17Setting up the Shot: Using Natural Light 18Getting that First Action Shot: Snow Park 19Scouting Location for Action Shot: Snow Park 20Capturing Variation of Snow Park Action Shot 21Refining the Snow Park Action Shot 22Action Shot with Strobes Overview 23Shoot: Action Shot with Strobes 24How to Light Using Strobes 25Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes 26Refining the Snow Park Action Shoot: Using Strobes 27Capturing Variation with Snow Park Athletes 28Capturing Portraits: Snowboarder 29Capturing Portrait: Skier 30Shoot: Feature Jump Action Shot Afternoon Natural Light 31Introduction to Today's Shoot 32Building a Rapport with the Athlete: BMX Rider 33Scouting Location for Action Shot: Indoor BMX Park & Natural Light 34Getting the First Action Shot: BMX 35Conceptualizing the Action Shot: BMX 36Prepping Gear & Refining the Action Shot: BMX 37Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Natural Light 38Setting up Remote Cameras 39Capturing BMX Action Shots: Remote Cameras 40Conceptualizing the Shot: Using Strobes in Indoor BMX Park 41Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park 42Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Strobes 43Capturing Variations of BMX Athlete 44Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider 45Directing an Athlete Portrait: Indoors 46Lighting a Portrait: Indoor BMX Athlete 47Portrait Demo: Indoors BMX Athlete 48Portrait Demo: Adding Atmosphere 49Transmitting Live from the Field 50Panel Q&A


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!


One of the best photographic purchases I've made. Big fan of Corey Rich's work and getting a behind the scenes look at how he works and thinks was thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Corey and the others also provided a great amount of insight into the business world behind action sports photography.