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Cyclocross & Trail Runner Portraits

Lesson 29 from: Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

Michael Clark

Cyclocross & Trail Runner Portraits

Lesson 29 from: Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

Michael Clark

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Lesson Info

29. Cyclocross & Trail Runner Portraits


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Evolution with Lighting


Why Use Artificial Lighting?


Pre-Production and Pre-Visualizing


Equipment: Overview of the Gear


Equipment: Selecting the Right Gear


Strobes vs. Speedlights


Lighting 101: Flash Sync Speeds


Lesson Info

Cyclocross & Trail Runner Portraits

So, let's move on to portraits, and I will say, you know, it's tough to do portraits when you're shooting action. If you wanna do really high end portraiture, you know, and you're shooting action all in the same day, it's, it's tough, because you have to go from one completely different discipline, reset up your lighting, or whatever you're doing. I mean, I think, you know, really high end portraiture takes a lot more time than most people imagine. Especially if you're using lighting, and especially if you're outdoors. It's hard to figure out the background and you know your subject and make that look natural. Again with portraiture I think we did really well with Kai. You know, we had those, you know, Mordor looking like spires in the background from Smith Rock, when he's standing on a boulder, so it looks pretty dramatic. We don't have that here in the forest. So, just keep that in mind as you're watching this video. So, we'll go ahead and roll the portrait video. What we have here s...

et up as you can see is we have two rim lights in the back, and they have these light tools egg crates on 'em, and those are super specific. They don't sag. They're really nice, and that's really focusing the light to the, the back of our subject here, and then we have what's called a deep octa up here, which has got some secret special sauce in terms of lighting. I love this soft box. It just gives a really nice look. So, this will be our main light. Those will too be our, those will be our rim lights in the back, accent lights. They'll help separate Tim from the background. I just noticed we have a giant pine tree right behind him. So I'll have to move my location just a little bit to, so we don't have a pine tree growing out of his head. In terms of the lighting, let's go ahead and do just an ambient exposure. We're still on HS mode. So we haven't changed anything there. We've just added another light. We've got three packs, and three heads. So, everything's separate. Let me just do a little exposure, see what we've got for-- Oh, that's pretty sweet actually in terms of positioning. So here, I think I'm gonna try and shoot at 2.2 aperture because what I'm seeing through the lens is I really wanna blur out that background. You'll still know we're in a forest, but I want us to be focused on Tim here, instead of on the background of the forest where we're at. So choosing the aperture, that means, let's just say I want the background two thirds of a stop underexposed. That means I'm shooting at 3200th of a second, at F 2.2. So I'm gonna just go ahead and take an ambient exposure here. I need to switch my auto focus from continuous focus back to single point auto focus. And stepping on a few pine cones. So-- One of the things, this is an 85 1.4 lens, and if I shoot at 1.4, I'll have to shoot 10 to 15 shots to guarantee that I have a crisp, sharp image on his eyes. So sometimes I cheat it back out to F two or F 2.2. Just gives me a little more leeway when I'm working fast. So, and I think it looks just fine. It's still super shallow depth of field. So, let's look and see how that ambient exposure looked. Looks pretty good. I could even, I could go a little bit darker on the background I think. So let me, I'm gonna pull up to the 4,000th of a second, and just darken the background a little bit more, give us a bit more drama. So now you can see his face is shaded quite a bit. Tom, let's pull on the back lights. And I'm gonna turn this pack off. Just 'cause I don't want the front lights. I'm gonna start with the, the background lights first. The trick with the, whenever you're using rim lights on your subject, and you're great don't move. Stand right where you are. I'm gonna have you turn your torso just a little bit right there, perfect. I wanna fire these at the opposite side of him. So, I don't wanna light this side of him with this light because if I try to do that I'm gonna have light going past him and it's gonna really hit his face pretty hard. So I want the light to be back here, not striking the tip of his nose. Similar thing with this light. I want it to be going past him and kind of hitting the back over here, and when you do that you get the nice rim light on the subject like you want. So I think they're pretty close. We'll try 'em out. Are we at the same power settings on both? I see that, thank you. Let me just give a test. (people chattering) So let's see what that looks like. All right, that's not bad rim light. So, this one's looking pretty good. I'm catching a little bit of his cheek over there. You see I'm catching the bridge of his nose. Tom, let's move that one just back, and don't move it, but just rotate it back a little bit. Let's try that real quick. Did you say peak of my nose? The peak of your nose? You said the peak? Kind of does look like a peak. Good smile there. (laughing) Oh that's pretty good. Millimeters, let's move, just millimeters back towards me just a hair. Now this is the thing. So as I said, we went from a two light setup. Now we're a three light setup. With that rim light he is fixed in place. Even if he turned his torso, we might have to reset the rim lights if we're being really picky about how they interact with him. All right, look at that. Come back. Let's rotate it back a little bit Tom. I think it was better the other way. Or actually, leave it right there for a second. Leave it right there for a second, Tom. So, Tim, look at me, and then-- So typically when I do portraiture, there's a trick I've learned from Albert Watson, who's a very famous photographer, and I'd say to the model look at the center of my palm and I'm gonna move the palm and just move your whole face, and so out here, somewhere like that, and just hold that. Basically I'm rotating your nose away, so it's not gonna illuminate your nose, it's gonna illuminate part of the side of the face there. So, one more little test. You can see how much time this is taking to really dial this in with three lights. There you go. So there's not a whole lot of rim hitting him. Let's do one more. Let's pull that one back Tom. Somehow that one-- It's a game of millimeters on that. So back? Back towards me. There you go, right there. That's close enough for me for right now. Let's now pull up the main lights. So we've got the background lights set. Again, we're shooting at 4,000th of a second at F 2.2. So you see it's pretty shallow depth of field. ISO wise I'm still at 800th of a, ISO 800, which we could definitely drop the ISO here if we wanted to, but we'll just stay where we're at to keep things simple. We'll turn this guy on. And what power are those at Tom? 4.7. I'm gonna crank this guy up a little bit more to do that. 5.5, hey, he might have nailed it there. So, let me just do another little test. Whoa, and that was blasting him away into space. So-- Too much. One thing to note here is how we have this positioned. So I'm going to change this up just a little bit. It's pointing pretty much at him. I'm gonna feather this off, 'cause again, I wanna get that soft light off the edge of the box, and this is where it actually takes quite a bit of power out of your strobe, 'cause you know, you may not think you need 1200 watt seconds out here for a portrait, but if I'm gonna feather this off, and if there's double diffusion in there, you'll, I lost two stops before the light even gets out of the box. So, and then feathering it off, you know, I'm using this, and I'm tethered. So I can't walk that way. I'm using this super soft, sexy light here out the side to light his face. Most of the light's going right past him. So, even though I needed to turn down the power let's actually turn it back up because I pointed it away from him. And I'm just guessing that's gonna be somewhat close. Let's see what we got there. Still pretty harsh. Let's turn that down, all right. Go down a full stop. There's some sunlight on him. There also is some sunlight on him now, which has changed our lighting scenario. And we're pretty frontally lit here too. Let's move this actually off to the side. Is that all sun filling in? Yeah, there's a tree trunk right-- All right. Killing me sun. So, let's just drop our ISO to 400. Which will drop our exposure. Oh actually that works great. Maybe just move right like there, perfect. Now you're in the shade. All right that's closer. I'd say let's bring up the exposure on him just a little bit with the power. Let's go up a half stop. And maybe let's just move that in. Maybe we'll move it down to-- I'll move this guy down. I think it might have been going over him. I'll do one more here. You're totally fine back there. All right so let's drop that like two thirds of a stop. I think we're there. Do you want in lens or past the-- Just look straight into the lens I think, yeah, and we'll do something, just 'cause you've got this big strap that's going into your, strap it, or, is that comfortable? It's fine. Yeah, all right, and Tom, if we can move this back out just a hair I think, 'cause we shifted. Sorry, I'm getting really picky here with the lighting, but this is, you know, when you set up all the lights you've gotta be a little more attention. Pay a little bit more attention. The squirrels are, oh, now you're back in the sun again. (laughing) Yeah, actually, just, we'll have Tom shade them with the flag. So it'll take care of that problem. And you'll have to do it from this side. All right, there you go, perfect. So, let me just start shooting in earnest. So, you gotta relax the face and typically, here's another thing when you're talking about portraiture, is when I do portraits, you know, kind of the style these days is no smile if we're doing serious portraits. You know, you look at Vanity Fair, you look at all the big magazines, you don't see big white teeth and big smile. With portraiture I typically say flat mouth. So just relax the mouth and sometimes I'll have people do kind of gymnastics which is gonna look really funny when I do it, you know, just kind of stretching out the lips, getting the face kind of stretched out a little bit, so that, there you go, yeah, nice. So-- (laughing) And then, you know, just straight look in the camera. It's kind of a deadpan look. If you look at most of my portraits, this is the look you get, though sometimes you do want a moment, you know, and you're trying to pull that out of the subject, or talk to them. You know, I continuously talk to the subject. Typically at this point I might even show you some of the pictures, but we'll wait 'til we get a few more, and we'll mark your position, with your feet right there with that stick, just so we know if we come back to it. Is that okay? All right, so straight into the camera, and you know, just relax. I'm gonna get down here so I'm on your level. I'm looking at my background. I don't want that tree going out of his head. I'm gonna drop the power on this guy down to there. One more real quick Tim. All right, there we go, we're dialed. We got great rim light. So I'm gonna just start shooting in earnest. So, just stay with me, you know, flat lips, and you can, you know, if you want, after everything just move your face a little subtly and if I find something that I'm really liking I'll be, just hold there for a little bit. So, all right. Let's go for it there Tom. And-- And some of these I'm clipping the top of his head off. I'm gonna move back so I don't move the, or clip the top of his head off. Let's have you put your arms, cross your arms. There you go. Okay, what I'm seeing now is when he crosses his arms, I mean, look at the muscles on his forearms. (laughing) That's a good smile there, actually. Let's catch that, you know. Let's see. I'm gonna come in a little tighter, so that he's straight in the camera, and our background as you noticed just lit up like a Christmas tree. Is that looking super bright back there in the background now? It's not too bad actually. Still holding. So we exposed well for our background. I'm gonna shoot a few vertical here. Doing okay? Yeah. Yeah. And let's have you, there you go Tom. Thank you. The other nice thing with shooting with packs that are a little higher power than lower power is you hear the recycle times really quick, and with portraiture sometimes you even boost into you know a different flash mode where you're shooting a lot of flashes at a time because he might do something just for a split second that's really nice, and I might just have to catch it, you know, even if the flash just went off. So, let's see how those are looking. So, let's just do a few more, and let's have you look this way more. So a little over here. Just 'cause I noticed that was catching the front of your nose. And typically I would have this turned toward me so I don't have to walk back here every time. It's still catching the top front of his nose. Let's just have you step forward like four inches. There you go, perfect. A little more with the other foot. There you go. Let's see how that is on the nose. A little bit better. Let's have you step forward another inch or two. So essentially I'm changing the lighting on the back just by moving him forward at this point. (laughing) I like it man, the humor. (laughing) (laughing) It's classic, man. Totally classic. Instagram gold. Oh, they were cracking up behind me. That was what was going on. I was like, what's going on? So, let's see. Let me just look at the composition. I mean, the other thing is I've painted myself into a box. If I wanna shoot a full length portrait of him right now I'm gonna have my lights in there, which is not the end of the world. One of the things Tom does a lot, and one of the things I've done in the past, is I'll shoot with my lights in the picture, and then what we'll do is we'll just take the lights out and typically I would do this on a tripod, so I'm in the same location. And so we actually do this handheld and auto align in Photoshop pretty easily, and then we just take the boxes out, and in Photoshop we just, you know, paint over the layers and remove them magically. So, let's go ahead and switch out to a hat. And do you want something more relaxed to put over that, just for-- What do you mean? In terms of a shirt, that's not-- No, that's okay. Okay. Cool, so the trick with the hat is every time when you introduce the hat, we instantly shade their eyes. He knows how it works. That got rid of the-- That got rid of the glare. Got rid of the sun. But he's also got a logo on the bottom side of the hat, you see, which is good. He's already got it not pulled down super tight over his eyes. So he knows the program. I can see already, perfect. All right. And Tom with, there we go, perfect. And I'm gonna just play around with different compositions putting him in a different side of the frame. Let me zoom in on one of these and just make sure we're sharp. Ah that's pretty sweet right there. Oh that's wicked sharp. That is what you wanna see. So, we still have a glint of light hitting the tip of his nose. So let's just move you again forward. Yeah, there you go. And I'm gonna have you look over here just-- Well, actually I liked you back there. Okay, perfect. So, thank you Tom. And I'm moving myself to change the background just a little bit. And I know, you know, if you've seen a lot of my portraits you know I like to come in and cut the top of the head off. I don't know, there's something cinematic about that. I tend to shoot a lot of horizontal portraits as well, so I need to force myself to shoot verticals. I'm gonna pull back because this 85 is a little tight. And maybe even bend down a little bit. And can you lift that just a little bit Tom there? There you go, perfect, thank you. (laughing) Nice one. All right. Oh, right there, yeah, that's great. So are the Boston Red Sox your favorite team? Of course. Do you watch a lot of baseball? Oh yeah. Totally. Yeah. Do you go to the games at Fenway all the time? Do you have season tickets? No. No. Come on. Come on. That's like a million bucks or something. If I watch Fever Pitch I still get goosebumps. Yeah? That was a hell of a year. That was a hell of a year. Nice. Right like that. All right. Let me look at those for a second. I think we've got it. One of the things, you know, I was trying to do by talking to him about baseball because I know he's from Boston is just you know kind of create a connection and he relaxed his face. He, you know, had kind of a wry smile on there. So I just let it go and was using that, and just kept snapping away. If you had asked him about the Yankees, it would have been even better. Oh yeah? (laughing) The Yankees, what? Yeah dude. That's pretty sweet, right there. He looks super relaxed. The highlights are not blown. We can work with the rest of that. You know, if we're getting really crazy, we might put a flag right here, and just block the light hitting his chest a little bit. That's not really crazy if we were, had more time we would do that. We'll do that with our next subject. So Tim. I have one request real quick. Yeah? Yeah. All right. Oh that's gonna be awesome. We could do this. (laughing) Are you gonna foam up too for us? If we had a turtle, this would make even more sense. So Tom, actually one thing. Come in here and just flag the bottom of this a little bit 'cause I think he's in the shade now. Okay. One sec, I really needed to brush my teeth. I was gonna say something, but-- There you go, yeah. Just like that. Yeah, east coast time, you know? That is great right there. Look, just like you were, kind of off over here a little bit more. And brush that other side of the teeth, wherever you were. There you go. (laughing) There you go. Brush the other side of the tooth. The other teeth. Those other teeth over there, there you go. The molars, get the molars. (laughing) That's good. Ah, that's great, that's hilarious right there. They're still coming in. I think we got tons of those, so. Thank you. Thank you Tim. Appreciate it. Thank you so much for doing this. Of course. All right, so now we have Dylan Bowman that we're gonna be working with. Dylan is an ultra runner. Is that how you would classify yourself? Yeah that's accurate. And you just, you came back from 100 mile race just recently, didn't you? Yeah, in April I did 100 mile race in Croatia. So-- Croatia, wow. It's been a couple of months now, but-- Excellent, well, thank you for coming out. Pleasure. We've hung out a bit last night, but it's great to finally work with you, and we're gonna start out with some portraits. We've already got our set up that we were using with Tim and we'll do some portraits with you first, and then we'll move into shooting some of the action shots with the running. Let's see, if you lower your head just a little bit, and let's have you look out over here. A little bit more towards this light. So I'm still getting a shadow on the inside of the eye that you guys can see there maybe. Pull this guy down. Let's see if we can get that in there. I'm just looking at these guys and how they're hitting him. So let's have you rotate your shoulders this way just a little bit, there you go. That should be pretty good right there. Coming in here, nice. So we definitely improved the rim lights, maybe a little too much. Let's have you step forward six inches, perfect right there. Small moves. That's how this portrait stuff is. With lighting, it's all small moves. It's all a game of inches and millimeters, you know. He's pretty stationary. Oh we just got some shade. That's gonna help us a little bit. So let's switch your body position, like that. All right, and you're gonna be looking right here. Head down a little bit. Right in there, okay. There you go, right there. Yeah. Relax the lips and just look straight back to camera. Those are wicked sharp. And I love how buttery soft that is. I'm gonna actually go down to 1.4 real quick. Maybe I'll drop that. Is that back room? Can you just turn the back room down a bit? There you go, thank you Tom. And I'm gonna come in a little closer here. And I'm actually going to force you to look this way a little bit more, so you're into the light. So just move your head over here, and there you go. Right there. Awesome. Yeah, that's totally, we got so much good stuff. You know, I was getting a bunch of different combinations. I mean, look at how soft that is at 1.4. You know, we got tons of variations. You see, that's kind of more of the normal pace, once you get the lighting dialed in and how I work with portraits, how most photographers shoot with portraits. It's pretty fast. You hear those packs recycling. I'm like, as soon I hear it, I'm taking more shots. 'Cause, you know, I may or may not know looking through the camera what's gonna be the best portrait. I kind of have a good sense of what the composition I like is but you know until I work up the image that's the other 50% of really dialing in these portraits to a whole other level is the retouching on them. And it's not like I'm gonna retouch up freckles or anything on his face, it's just tweaking the colors, getting it dialed in to where I want it to be in terms of the style. I have a question. Yeah? If that's okay. Yeah. Is it, if you, if you know you're going after a black and white portrait versus a color portrait are you going to do anything different or what are the things that you look for? These days we have so much control for black and white because you know we have Lightroom, we have Silver Effects Pro. We have all kinds of different tools at our disposal. If I know I'm going for black and white and it depends more on the style. If I want a super contrasty, you know, dramatic, super dramatic black and white, I might amp up the lighting a bit more. So this is, I'm shooting in a very neutral color setting on the camera. It's coming into Lightroom with a very neutral color palette. Okay. So you're not seeing harsh shadows or super bright highlights. But for black and white it's more about how I process it than how I shoot it typically. And sometimes I won't know until I process it. When I process images sometimes I'll do, especially for portraits, like six or seven variations. And then I'll look at all of those and see well, it really feels like it works better in black and white for me than it does in color. Okay. So it's kind of an after thought for me a lot of times. All right, so there was our portrait session. As you can see, you know, it was a little more rushed. If I wasn't shooting and teaching at the same time I probably would have spent more time. Maybe changed some of the clothing. Changed a few different things and spent more time dialing in things for the portraits but the other thing I wanted to say is when you see those RAW images coming out of the camera I'm shooting in RAW on the camera. I'm also what's called exposing to the right. So I'm purposely pushing the histogram, so I'm pushing the exposure in the camera so the histogram is as far to the right as possible. So they may look like there's not much contrast. There's not. They look a little bright straight out of the camera. They're a little washed out. That's because my RAW settings are also in a very neutral setting so there's not that much contrast straight out of the camera. And I'm thinking about how I'm gonna process these images as I'm shooting them. So I knew I was gonna add the contrast back in in the processing. I also knew I was going to, as you can see here, drop the saturation, so the skin tones don't have as much red in them. I was going for a certain look. Also, you can tell the different clothing that we had them on, like the initial jersey, we had Tim in was a little brighter. The blue shirt that we had Dylan in reflected a whole lot more light. But you know once I get to working up the image I kind of know where I'm going pretty quickly with that, but I also know where I'm going with the image when I'm shooting it. So I think that's a key thing for portraiture. Also, I don't know that I mentioned in the video what lens I had on the camera was an 85 1. that Nikon makes. I may have said that, you know, I can shoot at 1. but I typically with a 1.4 lens will have to shoot five or six pictures to make sure I get a critically sharp picture of the eye, and so as you saw I backed off from that 1.4 to a 1.8 or two or 2.2, just to give myself a little breathing room. Also because I was teaching and may not have been able to concentrate quite as succinctly as I would if I wasn't teaching at the same as I was shooting a portrait. And we were shooting with HS here. I don't know if that was clear in the video. I think we had action in there for the heads early on. So this whole thing was with the HS heads. We were shooting in high sync mode because we were shooting at a high shutter speed of 4,000th of a second or 3200th of a second, whatever it may be. We were way above our sync speeds, which allowed us to balance the really bright background with our subject who is standing the shade. One of the things I haven't talked about this class is high resolution cameras. So I think I talked about shakiness of you know I'm not the steadiest photographer on the planet by any means, but once you get up to a camera like the D810 or the new 5D Mark IV from Canon that's 30 megapixels or say you're with the Sony A7R that's 42 megapixels, the pixel density on those cameras is so great that you have to be very careful how you handle those cameras to get an actual sharp picture because the motion blur imparted just by hand holding the camera can be a huge factor. And so this is one of the huge benefits of the high sync is that I can shoot at these really high shutter speeds which is gonna give me way sharper images overall while using flash, because if I have to stick at 200th of a second or 250th of a second, if I want sharp pictures that I can blow up big, I'm gonna have to be on a tripod for me at least. It depends on the camera, it depends on the vibration of the shutter, and the mirror box, you know, for the DSLRs that aren't mirrorless, but that's a whole other consideration, and the beauty of not just putting these lights 60 feet away and shooting action is that we have any aperture we wanna shoot with. Any shutter speed we wanna shoot with is available. One of the revelations for me with high sync is literally for a portrait like this because the lights are closer I can pick any aperture on my camera, I can pick any shutter speed, and I can make it work. I can just, you know, throw a coin up in the air and say I wanna shoot at 8,000th of a second and I wanna shoot at F five six, and I adjust my ISO and the power of the lights and I can make that work. So that's an amazing statement, because in the old school days you know pre high sync you know hyper sync you couldn't even do that, because you couldn't turn the power in the pack up and down. If you're indoors or a shaded environment, I mean, this is ridiculous that we can, we can choose our depth of field. We can choose whether we wanna stop the motion or blur the motion. We can choose any effect under the sun and just dial our pack up and down to make that happen. That's a pretty amazing thing to think about with the high sync technology. So here I chose for a blurry background because again we have that forest, you know, with all these trees, just super busy background. But shooting at, I think at F two or 2.2, we really take that out. So I talked about, okay, exposure, you know, portraiture is hard. I have to say. I told you the story about Rob Haggert telling me how to, you know, you've gotta figure out how to take a good portrait, and I've been working on it for 12 years now and I still feel like I have a ways to go. Not necessarily with the lighting, but interacting with people, you know? That is a skill that I'm not as good at as many other photographers are. I spoke about Dan Winters yesterday and how you know my conversations with Dan Winters. I've went away from that conversation feeling like in the 20 minutes that I spoke with him, it was one of the best conversations I had had in years, and I was like, wow, that guy made me feel so good in 20 minutes, you know. I don't have that ability or don't feel like I have that ability, but I do as well as I can, and for you out there, you know, trying to shoot portraits, that's a skill to develop, you know. How personable are you? You noticed in the video we'd been talking, Tim and I, for quite a bit, and I knew he was from Boston. I knew he was a baseball fan. I started asking him about the Red Sox. I kept chatting him up. I'm still just like with Kai yesterday trying to you know just relate to him and I didn't show him any images through that shoot. Partially because the way they were coming out of the camera, a little overexposed, pretty flat looking, you know, he's not gonna be like wow, those are amazing. So this is something if you do have a really big shoot and you're shooting portraits of people if you can have a digi-tech, a digital tech, on set, who's actually working up the images, or tweaking them, or you yourself walk over to the computer and say, hey let's take a break for five minutes, or two minutes. Let me just make some really quick adjustments here before you show it to the subject, so they're like, okay, that's pretty cool. I see what you're doing. It's just like the adventure sports stuff or the action stuff. You want that person to see their picture and be like wow, these are really cool portraits. I'm gonna give you even more than I have right now and I'm gonna relax a bit because I know I'm in good hands. Also, I did actually offer Tim to you know hang out, go sit down, while I have Tom or somebody else stand in for, you know, tweaking the lighting and get it dialed in, but we were out there together all day. It's like, hey, I've got nothing else to do. I just wanna stand here, and then that way I can hear what you're saying, and see how this works. Which for an athlete I think it's really great for them to kind of see what I'm thinking in the set up because they understand what's going on better the next time they do portraits, and you know, every athlete, you know, they're really excited about the action. They may not be nearly as excited about the portraits but they still realize that those are important, and every athlete needs new portraits like every year or two to send out to their sponsors for all the events they go to, when they do speaking engagements, for many different reasons. You know, and I also shot horizontal and vertical. It seems to depend on the camera and the situation. Sometimes I feel it works better when one way or the other. But I always shoot horizontal and vertical just to give the client or to give myself options. You know he's got a pretty cool look there. He also, the hat worked out. You could tell he really knew about wearing a hat. You know, most of the Red Bull athletes do. That's why Red Bull puts the logo underneath the hat and on top of the hat. And you know, if there wasn't a logo underneath then this wouldn't really work for Red Bull, because we can't read the logo. But because there's one underneath, they're not too worried about not being able to see the full logo on the hat in general. So with Dylan you know we didn't, we were rushed for time. We didn't have as much time with Dylan, or I didn't give it enough time with Dylan as we did with Tim, and also because we had the lighting set up it didn't take that long to position him in the right place. He was little taller, so I don't know if we adjusted the lights up or down. I think we did just the front light. And I think the second image, you know, is a little more, oh, oops, I don't have it in there. We got one with him smiling too that was a lot more relaxed but you know we got a portrait. I wouldn't say this is a solid portrait of Dylan. I think we could do better. Having a portrait who's fully in the landscape, you see his feet, you see the whole body, really helps tell the story better. But you know you need head shots and then you need wider portraits. So you shoot a variety of stuff. And you know it's funny. This, this whole shot of him brushing his teeth doesn't make any sense, but he's been doing a series of videos I think for the mountain biking industry where there's comically brushing his teeth in all of them so that's why we shot this one of him, and it was just kind of a funny little moment. But in terms of doing really high end portraiture I think if you're gonna do a really you know stylized portrait while shooting action then you need to set that up completely separately. These were done inside, but you need to find a location where you can do the action and maybe you even drive and go somewhere completely different to do the portrait, or if you're on a mountain bike you ride down to some different area and just the location for the portrait is just as important as the location for the actual action itself. And with Kai it turned out there was a boulder a few hundred feet away from where the climbs were that we were working with that really helped for that, but like I would, these portraits of the Red Bull Air Force were shot in the garage at Kirby Chandelson's ranch. So I could set up in his garage while we were shooting the action and just bring the athlete in and I showed this picture as well which is super stylized lighting. I mean, this took hours and hours and hours to set up something so particular in the lighting, and it was such that you know when the other people I was photographing came in and say Owen sitting here in this light they were like, they walked in and they were just like, wow. There was a whole bunch of lights and all kinds of stuff set up in the studio, but also just the lighting on the subject, if they can see the lighting on your subject they're gonna be, and they're mesmerized, you know you've got a great shot. So it's just a matter of how much time you have and I think I talked earlier that it's tough to go shoot action and do a really high end portrait right after that in a compressed time period and then go back to shoot the action. So, things you have to work with. Do we have any questions? We did have a quick question from Martina, who was just asking about your thoughts about doing those portrait sessions before or after the action work, and if that makes a difference. It depends on what it is. I have done some. There is a portrait that I've had on my website for years of free divers and they dove to the bottom of this ice cold hundred foot deep blue hole in New Mexico, and I purposely wanted them to go diving before I shot the portraits, 'cause I wanted water coming off them, and I wanted to see the reaction to holding their breath for six minutes, and so I told them, look, go do it, and the water was so cold, and I didn't have a water housing with me that I couldn't get in the water with them. I mean, literally I had a wet suit and I tried getting in the water, and I was just like nope, that's not happening. And they had super thick wet suits with gloves and hoods and booties and fins and the whole nine yards, and it was still cold for them. So I thought you know what? The best option is I shoot portraits, and that really, because they came out of the water, they were still catching their breath, and I had the studio set up right next to where they were diving, made a really interesting image. But typically if you don't want them looking all grungy you would do the portrait either the day before or the morning of, then go shoot the action. And even with the Red Bull Air Force guys here you know there's a reason I have hats on them. Because their hair's all over the place 'cause they just jumped out of an airplane going at 120 miles an hour. So their hair is not perfect. (laughing) And he was wearing these sunglasses, so that's why I left those on for at least one shot. So you kind of work with what you get. I can see in the reflection of the sunglasses basically your whole-- My entire studio. (laughing) Yeah, your entire studio. What, what was the decision making process behind choosing this image with that information being revealed and how do you make that decision? Well here I haven't actually looked at this image close enough to see that, I suppose. Somehow it's the rest of his garage with my packs and stuff. I could take that out in Photoshop, and I did shoot images with and without the sunglasses. I just thought these giant scratches across the sunglasses and the silver just kind of worked for me somehow visually. So there wasn't, there was, there was, well, leave the sunglasses on, take them off. Typically, if I'm doing a portrait I'm like no sunglasses, unless it's a very specific thing where it kind of looks cool and then I'll try it and then I'll shoot without it to have both options. And Miles, if you know Miles, he's a super passionate guy, effervescent. So you know to get a portrait of him like this doesn't really feel like him in some ways, but it feels kind of interesting, different than portraits I've shot of him before. So that's why I kind of left the sunglasses on for this one. Does that bother you now that you've seen it in there? Do you have a different feeling towards this picture now? Yeah, I mean, I guess I haven't seen it on a monitor this big. I haven't made a print. So I might go in a take a few of the cases out. It doesn't bother me that much, I guess. If I get far, I'm also very close to the screen here. So when you pointed it out I can go up here and you know I'm two inches away from it and see it, but I think if this image was smaller and you saw it, you know, on my website on your monitor you may or may not notice that as much. You'd just see black. And you know we could have actually put some gaff tap in the sunglasses so it's just black lenses, but his lenses are kind of see through with the way the lighting is. So if I would have noticed that in camera I might have actually put some gaff tape on the inside of the lenses. He wouldn't be able to see anything, but I'd be like, you're good. (laughing) You know, and you'd see the effect.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Reference Guide
Chapter 2: ABCs of Lighting by Michael Clark
Advanced Lighting Keynote PDF - Day 1
Advanced Lighting Keynote PDF - Day 2

Ratings and Reviews

norah levine

This is a course that I could watch repeatedly and be able to learn something new each time. Michael is a truly an expert in his field and is so generous with his knowledge. This course really breaks down the process of adventure photography, but it's more than that. I don't think you need to even be an adventure sports photographer to get tons out of this course. Michael is really good at breaking down some very complicated technology. Thank you!

a Creativelive Student

Great course that combines the technical aspects of shooting with light in different situations, with the art of making a great image of athletes. Michael is a great teacher and I'm sure his lessons will continue to help guide over and over again!

Jeph DeLorme

Great class with dozens of tips, ideas and lighting strategies for tough outdoor lighting challenges. Advanced class taught in a way that allows even a beginner to get a handle on lighting tough situations. The location videos provide real life examples that make this class a definite must have for my Creative Live collection. Thank you Michael Clark and Creative Live! Jeph DeLorme

Student Work