Portrait Demo: Indoors BMX Athlete
Alright, Corey. I think we're good to go.
Yeah, I'm just going to have you tilt your head a little bit back towards the light. Head down.
You want to exercise your micing skills again? So I think you're just, yeah perfect.
And then just look look straight at me, thank you. Oops.
Okay so you're getting that. So I would say, and this just a critique from a distance. There's a bit of like the deer in the headlights look right here and I think it's just about getting some more frames sort of, let's coach him, shoot a few, we don't have to look at each one. It's just you're giving him direction. And again it's always that, it's almost like speed dating. You're trying to make him comfortable, like as quickly as possible. I mean that's really.
All right here we go. One more. Can I get you to look up towards the light or towards Corey.
And now be conscious as he looks up we're starting to lose some of the Red Bull, you know the actual text on the hat. So if, you know, there's alway...
s this fine balance of you know, can you see the Red Bull logo, what's his eyes, how do his eyes look. But you know I really love the texture of the light, the shape of the light when his head is facing this way, eyes are coming back at you.
If we square him back up towards me does that mess with the--
Try it. Yeah yeah try it.
Okay so yeah just look straight at me. <v Corey R.>Still nice light, still interesting. I mean the other thing we can do is sort of wrap that edge.
Can I do (mumbles)
From a lighting perspective, I would just watch that highlight on the nose. So if I was shooting with you, you're shooting, I would see that, and I would immediately grab the stem of the light, and just get back, so that I'll hide that shadow, right.
Great, let's actually try that once. Let's keep him looking square to you and Jeff. Let's actually pull the light, just wrap it a little further behind. And again, there's gonna be this moment where we're gonna start getting flare.
Corey, you want to look forward towards the camera, so I can kind of watch from this side? And this is gonna keep the highlight on his face, but we're probably gonna lose some on his shoulder, or here.
Okay, let's give it a try.
That's a prediction. And it's gonna be thinner.
Yeah, it's nice, it's off of his nose, still nice edge on the side of his face and shirt. This is, I'm not crazy about this, this kind of triangle from the brim of his hat, this dark spot. Doesn't bother me, but I liked the light a little more when he was looking toward our light source.
Towards the light, yeah.
So I think, let's just in the interest of time, because again, this isn't about making the best pictures of our careers, this is about just experimenting and understanding the process. I think what we should do is switch gears. Let's just assume we made the picture, that our editor at Red Bull is gonna be happy with this. Soft light, we did the kind of nice soft light shot, we added a little edge, we have two variations already of our portrait. Now I think we should say, let's forgo the beauty dish, and now it's probably worth pointing out, we're obviously using, we're using a B4 pack, one-head beauty dish, and then we're using a B1 monoblock head, and Jeff, this is seven inch reflector, with a--
It's a seven inch with a 20 degree grid.
Grid, we're on a C-stand, and we have a C-stand is heavy, which is nice, we're on a medium roller over here.
Which maybe we should explain what a grid is, or what a grid does.
So I don't know if you guys work with grids and stuff a lot, but as you can see, it's like a honeycomb shape, but as you're looking at it, as you turn it, it cuts light. So it's kind of a, as deep of a dish it is, the deeper the dish it is, the more concentrated the light will be. So what you're really doing is not letting the light kind of flare out and spill all over the place. You're really concentrating it into a certain, single area. So if you're looking at my face, as I do this, it's cutting out light. So, that's what grids do, and you want to keep it in one spot.
And all of these tools, the beauty dish, the reflector, the grid, and what we're about to use, these are all light shaping tools. So these allow you to, as the name implies, shape the light to make it look more compelling. So, let's actually switch gears now, and make a shot that's maybe a little more endemic, or for the endemic audience, that will look cooler. A little more dramatic, we're gonna get a little edgier with the light, a little less soft. I'll probably have Corey switch out his hat, so we'll probably go from a ball cap maybe to a beanie. I think he had a blue and black, the black beanie looked pretty cool, given that he's actually in black clothes. The other thing I'm gonna have Corey do, and I can see he's doing it from a distance anyhow, he took off his undershirt, so now he's just in a t-shirt. And one of the things I alluded to is Corey's an athlete, he's super fit, so it's like I kind of want to see more skin. Like, you want to see that this guy is like a muscular dude, that is on his bike a lot. So, let's got to black beanie, whatever that, dark, that one's good, that's perfect. Okay, so from a lighting perspective, I think now we're gonna switch to, we're gonna get rid of the beauty dish, and I'm thinking let's actually try to snoot some light right on his face. Either we're gonna use a snoot or a grid, we're gonna focus some light on his face, and maybe try to fly a light over the top of his head, just make it a little more dramatic. Cool, that looks good, that looks good. And again, there's nothing that you can ask for that's wrong when you're working on a portrait, or any photo shoot. It's just a matter of, I'm gonna ask Corey things, like hey do you want to go no undershirt, just go to the United shirt. Worst case scenario is he says no. Again, that's about that whole transparency. Hey, I'm not an expert in this world, I don't know what's cool or not cool in this world. One of the other things I want to do is I want to bring the bike into the shot, because I think we just did a great portrait for he's a Red Bull athlete, but you don't know what kind of an athlete he is, unless you know him because of his personality or you know that United is a bike company, and you're not in this world, you don't know that. So Corey, let's actually maybe roll up your bike, and let's see. Alex, I might go ahead and take over the camera again. So maybe I'll switch back to, you can untether and I'm just going to stay on, and I think I might actually take that 70 to 200, just so that I've got some flexibility here. Thank you. And Brett, I might even grab, when you have a chance, I'll take that apple box, just so that, now all of a sudden Corey's a lot lower, because he's sitting on his bike, and so, you know, getting comfortable, this isn't because I'm getting old, it's just, it's actually, I learned this from Joe McNally. As I look at pictures of Joe, Joe is a master of, like, once he finds the position, you know, Corey's gonna be there, and Joe will park himself in that position, and it's actually kind of a great technique. I'm gonna kind of rock the apple box a little lower. All right, so good, this definitely is like the right position. And I kind of, do you prefer which way you're facing? <v Corey M.>It's just all ... (background noise drowns out voice)
I kind of like the other way, you just seemed more comfortable. Yeah, let me see, let me see how that looks. Yeah, I don't know why, I kind of like that. Yeah, cool. And is that, if we were just hanging, and I was on a bike, that's it, cool. Okay, awesome, let me see what that looks like. Okay, how about you looking right at me. Okay, so, let's go three stops.
How much? <v Corey R.>Actually, I guessed three, what do you think?
I was gonna do two and a half.
Okay, well there we go. I was gonna say two and three quarters, but.
(laughing) Try that. That's two and a half there. <v Corey M.>And let's back out. Bly, you mind pulling that edge farther back?
Well something happened, because we didn't have the edge last time, right? Okay, well, that's fine.
Do you want to, let's spin that out, just so we're not, let's see without edge straight out of the gate.
Let's go up, past, it's so weird. <v Corey M.>And Jeff, how far up did you just go?
I just went a half stop, 'cause it seems like it's, it's pretty dramatic. How's that, you want to go more than that?
Yeah, maybe ever so slightly.
All right, that's two tenths.
Yeah, that's nice. Okay, let's add that edge.
And so on this, we're losing the background completely.
(Corey M.] Yeah, yeah, I'm seeing that, let's see. Did that not--
All right, there we go. Okay, so let's go up three stops, Bly. Okay.
That's gonna be super high.
Hmm, I'm not as crazy about that snooted look right now. I'm a little concerned that we're not getting enough of the bike. And so maybe we can either switch to a grid, give it a little more light.
Or pull the sleeve out?
Yeah, or pull it out, that's fine. Let's pull it back and see what we--
I meant pull the actual--
Yeah, yeah, make it a little wider.
Yeah, you want more? <v Corey R.>Yeah.
We'll leave the grid, unseat this, okay, that's just pulling that off, if you want to see-- <v Corey R.>Okay, let's see it. And that's probably a little too much.
Like, what I'm not crazy about is the handlebar shadow hitting his hand.
Which I can move direction on that as well, so I can kind of move the head around--
Yeah maybe, so I'm not crazy about the shot, I like the edge, I think the edge is looking great.
That's following you?
Yup, like I love the back tire. <v Corey M.>That can be adjusted as well, with this--
Yeah, let me see, let's actually see, okay. Is that where it was, or you think it's a little farther?
I mean it was probably, I was positioned, you know--
Got it. And is your hand always resting on your leg like that, it's kind of a comfortable--
Okay, okay. Maybe cheat the handlebar a little farther the other way, kind of more, yup, there we go. And then go ahead and put your hand back on your leg, yup, cool. Let me scoot over a little bit, there we go. Okay, I'm actually liking that. I like actually seeing a little bit of the wheel. So now I think, Jeff, what if we snoot a little bit, so we drop, like, we lose a little bit of that light, so it's not quite as hot on the front wheel, and United.
Yeah that will also, that will change as far as, we'll use white wheels. Yeah, I can kind of flag it off a little bit. Why don't you go ahead and get back into your spot. I'd normally just bring a flag in, and look at the direction that the light is coming, and go, okay, I don't want it to hit here, obviously the further away from the light source, you're gonna get a harsher line. The closer you get, you get more of a softer line. So I'm just gonna try and take it off of here, not so much off the hand, so I'm looking at the direction the light's gonna go, and I'm gonna sort of guess as to what will be--
Okay, Corey, can you look right at me? Cool, that's much better. We can still see a bit of the silhouette or the profile of the bike frame. His sponsor, the manufacturer, United, is popping out, we can see it because it's white. That's starting to look better to me. We can see a little bit of the handlebar. Now, Mike, I think to your point, this is if we had a lot more time, I might experiment with adding a little kick on the back wall. Like we might do a kiss of light, streak it across, or rake some light across the back wall, just to separate him from the background.
And I like that now that we're open, you're getting a little bit on that left side, so you start to see a little bit of texture in the background.
Yup, yup, yup. And just to be clear, Jeff is now holding Cinefoil, it's acting as a flag. You could obviously stick a piece of cardboard right there, you know, you could mount a reflector, a flag, there's many ways to do this. It could be a camera bag that you stick, you know, you put it on a stool. It's just, we're blocking light, we're flagging light, to kind of shape that section a little more. Okay, let's keep on shooting. Okay, so Corey, I think we finally got our light worked out. At least the starting point. Let's shoot a few frames and see how that looks.
Let me know what you need, a similar thing, or something different?
Yeah, I want you just totally relaxed, so, now we've got the light, now let me make a few frames. How about real serious, you've got the game face on. <v Corey M.>Now he can't tell me-- <v Corey R.>(laughing) it turns out when you say game face, that usually lead to smiles. Cool, and Corey, what if, I like the hand on the leg. Yeah, I thought that was looking pretty good. Cool, just like that.
Elbows out, in? <v Corey R.>Um, let me see just relaxed, hand on leg, wherever they naturally fall, yup, there we go. Great, and how about you're even looking almost toward that Woodward W. Actually, let's see that, let me see, that looked pretty natural. Let me see you looking over that corner, yup, great. Yeah, now we're getting a big, harsh shadow, but go ahead.
Looking at the light, I pulled this back and slightly, the front wheel was pretty much dark before, and I pulled it back and slightly down, just to let a little bit of light, just the edge is kind of scraping into the frame there,
Yeah, I like it.
So it's not stark white, but it's balancing the composition, I think, a little bit better.
Cool, Corey, let me have you look at that W.
Over there, that one--
Like, this far, right near that exit sign, almost where you walk out to go to the bathroom.
Oh yeah, into the light--
Yeah, let me see you do that. I just want to see what that light looks like. And Joe, I think you're gonna be up here in a second. I think we're just figuring out the light. All right, that's not the pose, obviously, that's not gonna go in my portfolio, that image. But I think we're working with some pretty interesting light. I'd love to see you kind of work the pose a little bit. We learned at lunch that Joe can actually ride, and so he will probably have a better sense of how to pose Corey on the bike. So let's actually switch, and I'm gonna give you this PocketWizard. Okay, there's the PocketWizard, I'll just stay tethered, are we just gonna switch the cable? Okay, perfect. And Joe, whatever you want to do, you can pivot in, you know, change bodies.
You're reading my mind. <v Corey R.>Okay, cool, great. Corey, how often are you doing portraits, versus action?
Not very often. Like, if I had to say, probably 30% of the time (mumbles). Like, I have to set up, all right, we're gonna go shoot (background noise drowning out words) It's cool, it's fine, it's just something I have to work on. <v Corey R.>I think the beauty of a portrait--
I'm not in the limelight enough to be able to get comfortable with that stuff, so.
You know as a photographer, we just want you to naturally be there, as natural as you can be in front of the camera leads to the best photographs for us.
I'm getting better, I used to to be the worst. I hated cameras, hated them. So over the past eight years, I've gotten a lot better.
All right, come back straight on again, and I want to see you like sit on the seat and lean over the bars. <v Corey R.>Okay, and so we're not tethered?
We're not tethered.
Okay. Okay, so Joe, I'm gonna kind of look over your shoulder.
Your right foot on the pedal? Okay, great. Can you actually shift the whole bike over, just to your, that side a little bit more? Yeah, come over a little bit, so I don't catch this yellow, right, cool.
I think what Joe's doing right now, which everyone does, is take a few frames to figure out just what are you trying to have happen in the shot. Good, I'll let you--
I want eye contact on this one, so just straight through the lens. All right, so the light's a little harsh. Is there no way to just throw that beauty dish back on really quick, or we're not doing that?
Well, I mean, I think, my feeling would be right now, we have pretty, it's kind of edgier light, and so I think certainly, I think from a learning perspective, I think it's more advantageous, let's try and use this light. Let's set something up that's gonna be conducive--
So I'm just gonna have your chin face more this light, and your eyes like that, cool. Just bring your eyeballs back towards me just a little bit more, but keep you face that direction. Yeah, right there. Cool, I like it, but let's change it up completely. I'll have you stand up behind the bike, and just (mumbles)
And Joe, let's check out the photo, make sure ... Let's actually turn it so that the camera can see as well. So I think what's nice, I do like the light, the shape of the light on, the edge looks beautiful. I'm kind of in agreement with Joe that the light on his face is not beauty light. I mean, we went away from doing soft light. We're doing, it's a bare head, with a seven inch reflector. And so I think Joe's now, and this is the challenge, is working through, with this edge your light, how do you create something that's dramatic. So I'm excited to see how you evolve this shot.
All right, so just keep the bike totally square to me, exactly like that. And I still need your face to face this way, a little bit, right?
Looking toward you, or the camera, or--
Like, a make-believe person off to the side here. <v Corey M.>How should I position my hand? More casual, more straight-up?
Just relax, and see how this goes. <v Corey R.>So Jeff, what I think we're gonna do is we're gonna let Joe shoot for a bit, a couple of--
Can we actually like, just to get some more tension in your arms, maybe pick up under the seat, and just keep the bike off the ground a few inches. Try one more, push the wheel forward, so I don't see your legs, right there, so your legs are right between the wheels. Bring the back end out a little bit there. Right there, right there, yup. One more. Let me just get the bottom of the wheels in there.
Cool, I like it. What's great, and let's show the camera, just so anyone's that at home can see this, I think what's nice is that in the same setup, Joe just created a totally different look with this, you know, we're seeing the bike, 100% we're seeing the bike, we still have great edge, you get a sense of scale, even. How tall is Corey, relative to his bike, and in the endemic world, that's pretty, anyone that has a BMX bike understands how big this bike is, and so you get a feel for sort of what does Corey look like, relative to the bike.