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Location Scouting & Planning the Shot

Lesson 30 from: Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

Michael Clark

Location Scouting & Planning the Shot

Lesson 30 from: Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

Michael Clark

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Lesson Info

30. Location Scouting & Planning the Shot


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

Location Scouting & Planning the Shot

We're going to jump into trail running now with Dylan Bowman who's an ultra-runner. Amazing runner as you will see and the first thing we have is location scouting, so, as you'll see in the video, we did the trail running shoot right next to where that we did the mountain biking shoot. It's technically on the same trail. We just chose a different section of trail that was about 100 feet away, so that it worked for the trail running and we'll go ahead and jump right into the video and, then, we'll talk about the location scouting after the fact, so let's go and roll video. All right, so Dylan, we're going to set you up, I think, on this trail. We went around and we had you run a different couple places and just checked out how it looked and this one looked really cool when you ran back and forth because you got this boulder here in the middle. The ground slopes down over here and I can position myself parallel to you or, actually, perpendicular to you and, then, move my angle off, so ...

that I can see your stride length. There's the shot that's straight ahead, so if the runner's coming straight at you, all you see is this leg raised up, which looks very awkward and you can't necessarily tell if they're running or if they're just standing on the ball of their foot with their leg up, so I tried to avoid that shot at all costs and shoot from the side or in front and to the side a little bit, so we can actually see your stride length. You've got quite a good stride, obviously, because professional runner... Thank you. But, do you want to just run through real quick for us Sure. and we can watch that again? And, I'm just going to move right over here for a second. You guys are fine. Go for it. So, you know I like you hit it, kind of bounce off the end of this guy, somewhere in there if that's comfortable. (shouts) So, the other thing I'm seeing here is that, when he hits that and bounces off, he gets a little bit of air, so it's a little bit higher up. There's a little more action in that step. When you're using strobe with flashes, one of the biggest issues is catching the stride in just the right place. We can shoot ten shots and, somehow, his legs can be close together. We could have this before we get this, and that's really what we're looking for because, unless you have that perfect stride when you're shooting a running shot, it doesn't really look like they're running. It looks like they're walking fast. It could look like anything else is happening, but running. That's good. You could go on and come back. So, the other thing is look at his legs. He's an ultra-runner. He's got wicked-fit legs. Showcasing those guys. We want to make sure we're showing off the physicality and the musculature in the legs because, you may not see it now, but when you actually see the pictures of somebody running, you see the muscles tense up at certain points in the stride, especially if he's jumping off something, that back leg will have the muscles. You'll see the striations in the muscles and the lighting that we're going to set up will just accentuate that a little bit more. We're still using a light trap. We don't really have too many options when we shoot this kind of stuff. We could just use one light and, typically if I'm using one light, than I figure out where the sun is. It's just up above us in the right, and I would put that either on the foreground or the background. Typically, I'd put that, the sun, as the backlight and, then, use my one light as the front light, so I can control it a little bit more accurately. With two lights, I'd probably have a good five-10 foot space where we could catch the shot. With one light, we can have it all over the place, but two lights is a good compromise for that. So, we'll probably set the light back here out of frame and, then, we already have, we're going to use the DBox on this one, so it's a little bit of a softer light. Not quite as harsh as the long throw relectors we've been using and have that up front and that will be our main light. I'll be standing right where the camera's lined up, so that, technically in this scenario, it'll be a little different because I'll be shooting on the shaded side of the face and, whenever you have the shaded side of the face, whether it's a portrait or action towards the camera, it creates a little bit more drama in the image, so we'll dial that in once we get it set up and get you running. All right, so you can see where we're gonna set up the shot with the trail running. You can also see that we're not using the hard light reflectors, at least for the front shot. We're using a big, soft box. We can be a little tighter in on the running than we probably would with some other sports. The other thing, even in this picture right here that we're showing on the screen is that you can see I'm having him actually leap off of a rock, so there's several considerations with running which we talked about a little bit there and we'll talk about more in the next pre-shoot video because you want to get this perfect stride and I talked about not shooting right in front of the runner 'cause you see these pictures almost all the time of the runner like this, straight on and it looks like they're just standing there with their leg in the air on their ball of their foot and that's hard to tell if they're running or you feel if they're running. So, that's why I'm going a little off angle here. Also, getting the stride right, as you'll see in the upcoming video is really hard with running. Running can actually be really hard to shoot and I talked about his stride and how he's a professional runner, so he looks great running, but this is definitely something you wanna see the person you're going to photograph run before you bring them out on the shoot to run because, not to be too blunt about the point, but they may splay their legs a little bit and that's going to look horrible in a picture because it's going to look very awkward. So, typically, if I'm hiring a runner for a photo shoot or if I'm working with a pro-athlete, I'm not too worried about that, but I want to see them run if it's somebody I haven't worked with before. The other thing is how do you get that perfect stride if you're shooting one frame and we did try on this as you'll see, shooting at a lower power setting 'cause this is later in the day at five or six frames a second to try and catch it, but my feeling on that is that I miss it just as much when shooting it five frames a second as I might miss it if I'm just shooting one frame. So, if we can sync up our timing as you'll see in the next video, then we can get that stride almost perfectly every time or, at least, close enough and every two to three shots we'll get a perfect stride. In this one time that you're showing, did you pick that spot because of the background being darker, so you had more separation or just that was the good spot with him running off the rock. That was part of it, but it's also because of this rock and there's a catch 22 with the rock. Because the rock, it's a big boulder about the size of this table, which means he has to leap onto the far edge of it and, then, jump off that edge, but because he has to hit a certain point of the rock, I know exactly where his stride's gonna start, so that means I have a really easy, in-and-out of exactly where he's gonna take the stride. The downside is he's a pro-runner. He's an all-star marathoner. He can deal with the rock. I'm not worried about that, but he even said at some point on the shoot that he injured his ankle recently and, so I'm sitting here looking at this rock like, hmm, maybe this is not the best place for him to be running 'cause you don't want your professional athlete to get injured on a shoot where you're not doing something super-serious. So, he's looking out for himself. I'm going to try and look out for him as much as I can, but there's considerations even with running, which you wouldn't think is necessarily a dangerous sport, but I've photographed marathoners like Carolyn that I showed earlier from Kenya who won the Boston Marathon. And when you see her fly by a camera, holy mackerel, she is (whooshing), going so fast. That's like the one runner I've had to ask to slow down 'cause I'm like I can't time this. You're going by me so quickly. It was so impressive. Her feet never touched the ground it felt like. She was on a track. I used to run high hurdles, so being a runner, you know about the sport. As an ultra-distance runner, he doesn't hill stride, either as you'll see, so just knowing different running techniques, you can see how this is going to work and, maybe, ask them to elongate their stride. As a high hurdles guy back in high school, I could three-step between hurdles, which means it's pretty hard. You gotta really fly and you barely touch the ground three times before you get to that next hurdle 10 meters farther down the road or whatever the distance is, I can't remember. And I asked him at one point to elongate his stride just a little bit 'cause he didn't need it that much, but people who aren't professional runners that I've done shoots with, I, sometimes, have to ask them to really elongate that stride, so I can see the separation of the legs. So, all these considerations and we do talk about a lot of that stuff in the next video.

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