Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

 

Lesson Info

Gear on Location: Cyclocross

And this first video's going to be more about the gear. 'Cause you'll see we drove up, and we could drive literally 50 feet away from where we were going to be shooting, so I have a ridiculous amount of gear. I think I even say that in the video. It's insane, I even have like 100 pound boom arm with a you know, we didn't even use it but we have all this extra gear just in case, 'cause I didn't know exactly how I was going to set up the lighting until we kind of saw things happen. But let's go ahead and roll that video. Here he are out on the Lower Storm King Trail, we're here today in a forest shooting cyclocross and trail running, and as you can see we backed the car up we're shooting just over here, like 100 feet away. We backed our car up and we have an incredible amount of gear, insane amount of gear really. We could drive to this location which is perfect. If we had to hike in here or if we had to carry our stuff a couple miles into this trail, we would definitely not have this mu...

ch stuff. So, just to give you an idea of what we have, we have a truck load of lighting gear literally, but let's start with the cameras first. So, I've got both DSLRs and medium format systems, so for the DLSRs I've got a Nikon D810, we've got a D4, we've got four lenses, which is a 14-24, a 24-70, a 70-200. We got a light meter, we've got a loop to check out the back of the camera even though we're going to be shooting tethered today, just for the students' sake. We've also got extra memory cards, we've got our transmitter for our flashes so that we can pop the flashes no problem. I've also got some jackets in here, some water, headlamps, some gloves, it's a little chilly this morning here out on location in Bend, Oregon but these are the basics here let me pull out this box a little bit below us, some of the other cameras. So not only do we have the Nikon DSLRs, we also have a full Hasselblad set up, so we can use the high sync capabilities of the leaf shutters here, and I've got four or five lenses, extra batteries, another transmitter that's specifically set up for this camera which is a little different that we've already explained. And you know, I typically would never take this case anywhere obviously, 'cause this is a huge Pelican case, it usually flies with me to the location, but in this instance 'cause we can drive so close to the location I didn't repack it into a backpack, just to be clear on that one. So, in addition we have Elinchrom ELB 1200 packs, we've got three of these in this light work case, which you can see over here. We've got extra batteries stacked on top. We have six flash heads, and the reason we have six flash heads is because we have both action heads and the high sync heads, so one of the heads is made for a super fast flash duration and the high sync heads are actually a slow flash duration which allow us to shoot up to 8,000th of a second. So I think one of these right here is, there's three heads in each of these and these are the action heads here, so that means this other exact bag is three high sync heads, and these go with the ELB 1200. And technically for this scenario that we're doing today because we can get our lights a little closer than we can with say rock climbing or some other adventure sports, we don't necessarily have to have a 1200 watt second pack. We could come out here with our ELB 400s, you know, or other gear and shoot the same scenario with much lighter gear if we needed to. So if we were farther afield in a forest we may not lug this guy in because it's a little heavier. So, other things we have, we've got our reflectors here that we'll be using for the action part. So these are high performance reflectors that really boost the light out, you know, so we can put the lights 20-30 feet away and still light our subject fairly accurately. We also have a full duffel bag full of I think there's four soft boxes in here for the portraits we'll be shooting later today. And in this bag right here, we have a whole bunch of stands, it's basically our stand bag, and we have our Road Rags which are actually flags, location flags that set up, kind of like tent poles. We have light stands over here, we even brought, like I typically would never bring actual sand bags to a shoot, but because we can get so close, we have actual sand bags for our stands, and then also used canvas, this is kind of a cool trick especially when you're not close to the car. You know, I go to my local grocery store and I get these canvas bags that you buy to put your groceries in and they're tough and lightweight, and then when I get to the location, I'll either put rocks or logs or whatever we have to weigh down the stands and just hook these over the stands to act as sandbags, 'cause I don't want to have to carry sand bags in, you know really far to a location. The other thing is we might just hook our camera bags or some, whatever's heavy onto the light stand, just to lock it down if we need to. Or in addition, sometimes I even use cordage and I put it around here like tent cords and I'll stake out a stand if it's really windy, which really helps stabilize the stand if you have a big light modifier and if you don't have an assistant with you. Other things we have, we actually do have the ELB 400s with us, we're not going to use them today. They're just here as back up. This Gitzo bag is a tripod, and in addition the last thing we have over here is a giant boom arm. This is made by a company called Kupo, and it's a 12 foot boom and it's got a huge stand, that's bigger than any of these so that we can boost this boom arm above our athletes, and even put a top light down maybe 15-20 feet in the air above them. So, we'll see if we end up using that, not quite sure if we will, but that's the gist of what we have here today with us. That was all the gear, I had an insane amount of gear. I drove up for the pre-shoot because flying with that amount, I mean I don't know how you check a 12 foot, 60 pound boom arm onto a plane, we didn't end up using it as you will see, but I wanted to have all the options available in terms of lighting. This is the, as you saw yesterday, this is the trick with lighting, it's gear intensive. But that's also, it requires so much extra work to set up the lighting that that's, like I was saying yesterday will allow you to separate your work from the pack, because not many people are A, going to either rent or have that gear, or spend the time to set it up and create the image which is a much much slower process. One thing I will note, is in a lot of these videos, you're seeing be pull out this Hasselblad, and then you don't really see me shoot with it that often. And I was mindful of most people probably don't have a Hasselblad they're shooting with, 'cause I could have shot all day with just that Hasselblad, on today especially. So I tried to shoot more with the DSLRs on location than I did with the Hasselblad just so it's more relevant to more people. Jackie Garcia asked are the action heads specific to Elinchrom? Yes, so the Elinchrom action heads, I mean, every strobe manufacturer makes flash heads that have faster flash durations or strobes themselves. Elinchrom is one of the few companies that actually makes multiple flash heads for each of their battery powered packs. There might be some other company out there that does that I'm not sure, but that's a huge advantage because it adds a lot of versatility. So I can choose which, I mean it means you have to carry more than one flash head, but they're not that heavy. And in that instance we drove up, so it works great. If I was hiking back into the wilderness I might take one action head, and one HS head with one pack and that's all I would take. But because I have those two options, it really works well. And you'll see in the instance that we're shooting today, we have to use the action head to do the motion blur. So, here's just wrapping up, if you're joining us now and you didn't see yesterday, let's just clarify we did a whole half day yesterday talking about how this high sync technology works, the hyper sync, high sync, how we can sync with our DSLRs up to 8,000th of a second, we're not going to go through that today. So, we started with a motion blur and we used the action heads, typically I get this question all the time like when should I be using the action head, when should I be using the HS head for Elinchrom, if you're shooting at your sync speed for your camera, like 250th of a second or 200th of a second or below, I'm always using the action head. If you are shooting above your sync speed for your camera, then I'm using the HS head. So, do we have a question here? Yeah, I have one quick question, I know with some of these flashes you can plug multiple flash heads into the pack, so can you so can you talk about why you would or wouldn't do that? Yeah, I think that's an interesting thing with the Elinchrom specifically is that I could technically plug in two flash heads, like let's say I want a really fast flash duration at full power. And I would be in that instance shooting at my sync speed or below, like I just said. I could plug two action heads into one ELB and I actually get a flash duration I believe it's 1/4,000th of a second at full power, it might be even a little higher than that. But there's no flash in the world that has that kind of a flash duration at full power on a pack. So, if I really need to freeze the motion, as in an image like this, and I need a lot of light output I can even on the ELB 1200 make them even and just put the flash heads right next to each other, so it's like a single point source of light. I know somebody asked yesterday over lunch, what about putting an HS head in one port in the pack, and an action head in the other? I've never tried it, to me logically it doesn't make sense. I mean, I'm sure it would work and they would both fire but you'd have one head with a really fast flash duration and one head with a really long flash duration and that might create some really weird effects. Maybe good, maybe not, but hard to say. That answer your question? You know, and if you were shooting other gear, you could have done for what we're doing in the first part of the day with the motion blur any flash would work technically because we're not using the advanced features of the high sync, lighting technology today. And, I'm just thinking through it, you know we could have done this with speed lights too if we just waited till later in the day. So, since we're out there in the middle of the day, we needed more light power. The other reason I chose the ELB 1200 is I knew we were going to be popping the flashes off longer, the batteries last longer and we weren't necessarily at full power with those strobes while we were shooting this Cyclocross today.

How do you freeze action, create motion blur and showcase the strength and style of athletes? When you introduce artificial light into your adventure photography, the opportunities are endless! It’s easier than it looks, and once you master the technical aspects, lighting on location can unlock tremendous opportunity for capturing portraits and action.

Red Bull Photographer, Michael Clark, joins CreativeLive to break down the barriers that are keeping you from letting your photography stand out. In this course, he’ll cover the basics of gear, incorporating flash, finding unique perspective and so much more.

Through demonstrations in the field, Michael will work with incredible athletes in a variety of lighting scenarios to show how to capture the heart of a sport and the spirit of an athlete. If you’re looking to make your mark in the world of action or sports photography, this course is a necessity in making your work compete with the best in the industry.

Michael will cover everything:

  • Location Scouting for your camera and your lights
  • Packing and gear tips for various locations
  • Scouting the best point of view to capture action
  • Safety and considerations for working with athletes
  • Strobes vs. Speedlights
  • When to use High Speed Sync, Hi-Sync (HS) or Leaf Shutters with your flash
  • Getting into the business of adventure photography
  • Creating tension in your photos

Michael will be working with professional athletes like trail runner Dylan Bowman, cyclist Tim Johnson, and incredible rock climbers to give you a rare and one-of-a-kind look into the world of adventure photography.

Submit your work to the Student Gallery for a chance at feedback from two of the best adventure photographers in the world, Michael Clark, and Chase Jarvis. 

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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