Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich

Lesson 44/50 - Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider


Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich


Lesson Info

Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider

Hey, Cory, what do you think, I would love to try something, given how much time we have, where I'm up high in the tower, like that third floor, and looking down at you. This hip right here? Oh yeah. So this is what you call a hip, is basically two angled wedges joined together. This hip, looking down from there might look cool, other than that we could possibly do a couple basic fly up stuff right here, or even this ledge. Depending on what you're looking for we could do a simple smith grind up, could look cool depending on the lighting and-- Okay, and what about, just so we're looking at the same features, what about those two humps that are on that flat surface? Is because the more I'm sort of really overhead, what's possible in that space? We could do, try to jump, a couple jump variations into the hump. And then small transitions, but that's about all I got in that area. Because it's not really a photogenic kind of setting. Got it, and maybe what's helpful, is maybe yo...

u and I should both just walk upstairs together and look at what looks good from above. And then you might be able to describe to me the features. And I think the ideal for me is I wanna kinda rake light across your body, so that we're kicking a shadow out. Gotcha. You know, isolate you in the space, create shadow. And I think for simplicity we'll start with shooting on one strobe. And of course we won't have the ability to be tethered, so I'm gonna be kind of showing the back of my camera to the camera up there. Gotcha. So we're gonna be a little more nimble, but I think it's the opportunity to just really change our perspective and do something cool. Alright. And by all means, guys, let's all go up there, it's at least a perspective change, even if you're not hooked into strobes. Sounds good to me, I'm ready. Perfect, okay. Alright, we're gonna go up here. Cool, yeah, feel free, whichever elevation you guys wanna shoot from. This is cool to have have two decks. Oh yeah, let's see. So there's some computers. Maybe we can get-- Yeah maybe I could... A step ladder or like a pelican case. Little step ladder would be great. Jose? Jose? Jose? So this is cool, any time you have the opportunity to be up high, like change your perspective. Ideally it's something built in like this tower. Sometimes it's a ladder, sometimes it's a cherry picker, sometimes it's getting up on a tree. Obviously I'm gonna be conscious if I don't wanna fall off. But that's pretty cool. I signed the liability waiver so I'm totally fine. And this is a pretty sturdy counter. I think one of the other things that we talk about a lot too, with having assistants, we've got Jose coming up bringing a ladder, a small step ladder. People don't realize... How much, how helpful it is to have at least just one guy, so that you don't have to think about a step ladder, or lenses, or whatever-- Burning the time, is the biggest thing. If I'm working with Cory, then I only have a limited amount of time. If I'm running to get ladders, or running to get lights set up, it's time. Now this is, Brett made a point earlier, that any time you're kind of rigging a camera from above, you notice probably I never used the camera strap, and now I'm putting the camera strap over my neck. Because the last thing I want is to drop the camera. One, it'll break, but two, I don't want it to hit Cory or land on someone. So... Just kind of run it to that spot right here-- Alex do you mind tucking the cable in? Just pulling, that black cable, yeah that one. Yep that's great. Perfect. Okay so super graphic. So I guess really the question is I'll get Cory's attention, oh that's pretty cool when he hits that wall. But I think let's focus on our top down. Hey Cory! So, kind of this whole zone, this half of the room looks pretty cool to me. This is probably about the best tricks, from here to here. Cool, that could actually look good, let me see. So if I, so maybe one way to do that would be... Jeff, we could either put a light on the far side and shoot his shadow at us. That might end up being a two light setup though, to create a little fill. Fill inside, yeah. Yep, if we wanna start with a single light, actually let's try that, let's try at 45 degrees to that side. Let's get the light fairly high so that we can keep the shadow in the shot. And you want the shadow falling towards us? Yep, I think towards us. From a center to the left of frame? Yep. Or do you want center to right of frame? Exactly, I think center to, actually center to right of frame, so that it comes across the rectangle this direction would actually be better. And let me show you what my frame looks like. Whoops, I can turn off this. Let me just open up here. Just so you can see what I'm looking at. (camera shutter clicks) You know, something like this-- And I think this is also a good thing to speak about as far as towards the students is, it's important for me to be able to see what your eye is seeing. Right. So I can think about, okay, what is he trying to accomplish here. Bly, maybe kill that, or just spin that into the wall, just so that I, I'm just showing Jeff. To Jeff's point, I'm trying to just show my composition. So I think Cory's gonna be in air. Right, from one to the other. Yep, he's gonna be in the air-- And then you want a shadow coming this way? Exactly. So we're gonna have to place the light right out of frame here, high up. Yep, almost near that gap. I think halfway between that gap we were shooting on. Right. That would get us out of the frame. Perfect. Cool. So maybe let's just, hey Bly? I think we're rolling that light 50 feet that direction. And then we'll probably bring it fairly high. To where that crack is. Right there to your right. Keep coming right, keep coming right, right up to the lip. Yep, he's out of frame there. You can even come over more, all the way to the edge. That's good. And then we'll go high. No grid for this one-- Yeah, I think no grid will make is easier. We're gonna start without a grid. Cory, and I've got you 72 hundred if you need it. Great, perfect, I think I'm gonna stay wide, thanks Brett. 'Kay, so I'm on a 24 to 70 millimeter lens, and I'm sort of in that 50 millimeter zone. And I love primes, but zooms are incredible in that I'm in an awkward position, it's easier to sort of make adjustments, how wide I want the frame, how tight I want the frame. Just gives me a lot more flexibility. Do you wanna go a full power on that? Because you want, you're gonna bring ambient down and make a shadow out of it. Yeah, so here's... Let's see here. What's your shutter and your-- Yeah let's go to a thousandth of a second. See how that looks. (camera shutter clicks) I think we might have to tilt-- These are, that's looking pretty cool. Is that edge still firing out there? Yeah. Okay. Which... Yeah, let's just kill the pack. Let's kill the edge. Just so we're not burning through power. Guys, I know we're all up here, maybe this is a good opportunity, any questions that you guys have, or thoughts, I'm always interested in what's going through your brains creatively. Maybe have a look guys, come over here and check out what we're looking at framing wise. You know, we're really transforming what the light looks like. Show me too, when you get the chance. Okay, yeah, so obviously he's gonna be airing. And now with the D5 is a touch screen, so if I. Oh, amazing. Yeah, how 'bout that, how 'bout that magic? So obviously what's happening here is he's gonna be airing through this zone. Whoops, here we go. Through this zone, so the idea is while he's in the air, I want that shadow kicked out toward camera, because there's plenty of dead space. And so now I think it really comes down to let's just see him in the frame and see what the light's doing, and then we'll go through that process of fine tuning the light and seeing what's working and what's not working. Mhm great. We're at a thousands of a second, 5/6, so plenty of depth of field, we should be able to totally stop the action. We are, from a white balance perspective, we are in just daylight. I mean it's obviously we're kicking daylight. So, for the home audience, I know it's harder to look at this, than it is to look at a computer monitor, at a feed that's going to the computer. Op, thank you, thank you. It takes another Nikon guy to know which button. I don't have a mic so might talk a little louder, pick up off of yours, but a point that we just saw, would be really cool to go straight overhead. I mentioned to Joe, I said, "Where's you drone? "We could've flown a drone in here "and made it really graphic." How often do you use drone technology to get overhead shots? You know, we used drones a ton, mostly in the video space. So we're flying, we have a licensed pilot with an FAA-333 exemption. And that's really important because there's so much drone use right now. And just to be clear, it's actually illegal to use drones commercially unless you have a pilots license, and an FAA-333 exemption. So if you're working for a commercial client, Red Bull's paying you, and you're flying a drone without a licensed pilot in the United States, and without a FAA-333 exemption, you run the risk of getting into some serious trouble, and so does your client. But, drones do something that is impossible otherwise. Which is, you can put cameras into positions that would be very very difficult to put yourself into without the drone-- When you don't have a tower like this. Yeah, that's right, that's right. Now, shooting still photos with drones is infinitely more complex than shooting video with drones. You know, I think, I walk this line of I'm a film maker and director, and I also work in the still photography world, my roots are in still photography, and it's still very close to my heart. And in video you have the opportunity... No one's studying that one one thousandth of a second, they're seeing a moving shot, so you can be a little less critical of is the shot in focus, what is the composition? With still photography it's all about perfection and fine-tuning that one frame. And so critical focus, critical exposure, critical framing, is infinitely harder with drones. But, like anything in life, those things where you work hard, or you push the limits, you take advantage of technology, when you can refine that shot from a drone, it allows for pretty spectacular photography. When Chase and I were doing critiques on day one, we were looking at pictures, and Chase shared a photograph that he did. He was piggy backing on a video production, where they were flying a real helicopter, probably a Bell JetRanger. And he got this top down perspective of a skier in the park. And those opportunities are fantastic. And I think what's great about drone use is it doesn't require a several thousand dollar and hour helicopter, where the consequence is high if something goes wrong. You can, in a relatively affordable way, if you're not trying to do it professionally, you can fly a drone and make pictures that are remarkable. So, alright, let's see if Cory's back in here. Let me spin around. Okay Cory, when you're ready, I think we can run a test. Alright. So from a lighting perspective, just from seeing your frame, I'm always thinking about what the next step might be. So we might need to do a grid. Here he comes. (camera shutter clicks) Okay wow, I was really early on the shot. Oh this is gonna be super cool. So I missed the shot here, but you can see this is already really sculpted cool light. We're getting a great shadow. So let's try again. (camera shutter clicks) Okay. Hey Cory, I think I liked that first shot. And I forgot what you called it, where your arms are off the handlebars. Mhm. That was sweet, I think that's actually-- No hander. Cool, maybe no hander. We'll warm up with that? Yeah, maybe a couple of times with that. And maybe give me, I'll queue you each time and say "Let's go for it," just because we're making some adjustments while you're-- Yeah, yeah. Cool. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Great. We're just getting, you can see the contour of the park, or of the features, and it was catching some of the light. I'm gonna try to shoot around that. 'Kay. (camera shutter clicks) Cool, boy that's looking cool. So we're missing his shadow. We're not actually seeing the shadow, but that's an awesome, he's just silhouetted against that backdrop. I don't know if it just turned off. I'm gonna show the camera, but we're starting to get him silhouetted against that backdrop. So now, and this is what happens whether I'm alone or whether I'm with Jeff, now it's a question of, one option is I flip vertically and see if I can't catch more of the shadow. Let's try that. Or we bring the light up higher. Right, so that's one of the things I was thinking of, just from where we were setting it at, is you might wanna come in, we'll go all the way closest to frame as we can, get as high up as we can, so we create that angle, so it'll just move that closer to him. And if we need to, we might be maxed out on our stands, we can get magic arms, and there's rigging and stuff we can do to get up as high as we can do it. And let's just for the heck of it, just based on time, so some of this is gonna be more on principle we're talking about it, than actually executing on it. I'm just gonna flip the camera vertically and let's see what that shadow looks like at the bottom of the frame. Okay, alright Cory, let's do it when you're ready. Okay, this? Yep, same thing, was awesome. (camera shutter clicks) Okay so I flipped vertically. Oh that's kind of cool, we're getting a nice moment. Getting more of the shadow gives you a little more context. You guys can see that, and again, this is the kind of stuff that just gets me super excited. You know, I said we could spend an hour on the last shot, we could spend three on this shot. It looks really cool. We're just talking about how much opportunity there is with this photograph. Bly, one thing that might be nice is, go ahead and pivot the light a little this direction, just so there's less bleed on this side. Yep, that's good. Let me see what that looks like even without Cory. (camera shutter clicks) That's better. Even a little more. (camera shutter clicks) 'Kay I think that's still gonna put him in a nice spot. Okay Cory let's try it. We just moved the light so we're getting a little less bleed on this far right side of our frame. Alright. 'Kay. And I'm ready when you are. Alright, coming. (camera shutter clicks) 'Kay. Pretty cool. Like, we're definitely getting, he's now right in that highlight zone, and that's just a result of spinning the light. We're getting a little bit more of that shadow. So you can see, I'm gonna zoom in, confirm he's razor sharp. Now, the other thing that I would love to do if we had time, is we know where he's gonna be now, I'd love to grid and just put a little spot right on his face or right on his torso. Because remember we're here for Red Bull, and the one thing that's missing in this photograph is branding. Like, it's you know, world class athlete, cool photograph is starting to evolve, but we actually don't know he's a Red Bull athlete. So could we put a splash of light on his head? And Jeff, do you think, is it crazy to try to run down with a small monoblock? Yeah let me give it a try. And just try to hit him with it? Yep. Okay, we'll try it at least. Um... Hey Cory we're just gonna try, like exactly what you were doing was great, we're gonna try to bring in one more light in the last couple of minutes, and see if we can't actually get a splash of light right on your helmet, so that we can see that you're a Red Bull athlete. Cool. So bear with us as we're doing this. Oh yeah, take you're time. I'm just cruising around. Thanks. I don't really get tired of stuff like this. It's great. So you know, a lot of these situations is just slowly evolving the shot. You know, we started with, I never shot the ambient light photo. Here we go. I never shot the ambient light photo here, but we started the day by shooting with natural light. We've now added, we're using one profoto head in the background, it's just on a 10 inch Magnum reflector. And I think we created a pretty interesting shot. The next thing that we're gonna do is try to add just one more head. One more head with a grid, just to put a splash of light on Cory's helmet, and see what that allows for. You know, I will say even without strobes up here, the graphics are just so cool, that I'm interested to see what everyone else is shooting with natural light. Because it's awesome, I mean the graphics are incredible. This is another opportunity to experiment with slow shutter speeds. You know, let him blur through the frame, do tracking shots with slow shutter speeds. There's just a lot of opportunity to create some pretty interesting photos when you get this high vertical environment. So what I just changed is that it now will no longer auto rotate. Which means the vertical will fill this frame, and it might be easier for them to see. Ah, thank you, thank you for doing that. Okay, Jeff, you want me to give it a test fire? Just need to know also what your framing is. Okay. Am I out of frame here. Um, I'll make you out of frame, yep. (camera shutter clicks) Okay stand by. Sorry, okay. I was just checking to see. You're gonna be up in the air a little higher though right? Probably yeah, tilt it. 'Cause it's gonna be... You know what-- And I'm also adding more shadow guys, you can see I'm letting more of that shadow rake across the bottom of the frame. Do I look like I'm about a foot above your head? Well once I'm up it's gonna be kinda up here. 'Kay, so I wanna aim, I want this honeycomb to aim directly at that. And what's happening right now is Jeff and Cory are having a conversation around, you know, Cory is kind of the ultimate, he's in the position where he's gonna be riding, so he can give Jeff clarity around where should that light be pointed. And so with that light pointed... Same thing if you tilt it up we'll see. And Jeff, tell me when you wanna test fire. (camera shutter clicks) Aw, that's gonna look cool. Okay, go ahead. Okay. (camera shutter clicks) There we go. Cool, that's great, let's try it. That looks sweet. How's the light look on him? You could probably come down a little bit, like maybe a half stop or a stop. We need the light too. I mean the actually exposure looks great, you guys can see, here, you want me to hit it again? Yeah. Can you just stand-- Sorry Cory, maybe one more time just kinda step in there. (camera shutter clicks) Cool. Yeah, that'll be nice, now it's just like a kiss of light, which is great. Cool, so you guys can see we're just getting a little bit of fill now on his face, which is really helps, it's like we can actually see some of that Red Bull branding. How's the aim and the angle because-- It looks good, I mean we'll see when he's up high. Okay. So I think we're running out of time, so we're gonna shoot this frame, I'll get a frame or two, a couple of passes, and we'll see if we can get this. Okay let's do it. Alright. Someone maybe count for me as he's coming in. Three, two, one. (camera shutter clicks) 'Kay, let's see what we got. Definitely we got a kiss of light on his face. I wanna zoom in and see if... Boy, yep, we got some Red Bull branding. You can see that's pretty sweet. Like, we get, hey Jeff, we're gonna do one last frame, and maybe go up a stop. Alright. You can see he's right in that frame, we're starting to get that kiss of light. Cory, maybe let's do one more time and then... Maybe count as he's coming in. Three, two, one. (camera shutter clicks) Oh, I think I cropped his hand out on that one. Oh no, he's in the frame. 'Kay that is, let me just check exposure on his face. That helped, just giving it a little more. So helmet's lit up, he's right at the edge of the frame, I think that's a pretty cool photograph. Cory, that was awesome, thank you. Sure. That was really cool.

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.