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High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Lesson 9 of 15

Set Up: Capturing Action

Clay Patrick McBride

High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Clay Patrick McBride

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Lesson Info

9. Set Up: Capturing Action

Lesson Info

Set Up: Capturing Action

So capturing movement, right? This is something I wish I knew more about, I talked about it a little bit earlier, I've been on the job, I've been working with flash and I've been wondering to myself, why isn't flash behaving the way I want it, why aren't I getting somebody totally frozen? So we're gonna look at that today, we've got a dancer coming in, it's gonna be a little bit of action photography, we're gonna use high-speed techniques, definitely the technique we're using is flash duration, and it's a big part of these Profoto D2 Strobes. Talk about directing, collaboration and teamwork, and demonstrate the magic and the beauty of freezing time. So this is what we've been talking about, this is my specs for these particular D2 units that have a particular freeze mode, that's what we're operating in. This we talked about a little bit earlier, this is how flash duration's quantified in these T1 and T2 times, right? We can see that T5 is a little bit of an exaggeration, there's a diff...

erence here because T is when it's 50% of the power. We talked about that earlier. T1 is when it's 100% released. All my heads right now are set like right in here between five and seven, right? So that means I'm operating in my freeze mode between like about 10,000th of a second to 18,000th of a second so that should be plenty good. A couple things I want to be mindful of is the room. So if we could just cut to our capture one preview here, could we get Chris' capture one there? And Chris, could you just shoot the room without any, we're not gonna use any flash right now, we're just gonna shoot the room just the way it is, and we really want to get a black frame, 100% black. Just about 100% black, what is that? That's a 24 millimeter. So if you actually want to see our shot, we're gonna have nothing in it. You wanna see that? Great, alright, so 100% black, if we had a little bit too much ambient light in this room, it might give us trails, it might give us a little bit of movement. So we want to make sure that at our flash exposure, and we'll get to our flash exposure in a second, but the room is completely black. So it's something we want to test out, that the ambient's not going to contaminate our exposure. Right now we're at ISO 200, what is that, F9? Okay, and 200ths of a second. So I know we're at 200ths of a second, but really it's our flash duration that's gonna be freezing the motion. 200ths of a second if we were to shoot like that outdoors, we might get some trails 'cause somebody moving really quickly. I found in my experience, shooting with available light and wanting to freeze action it happens best above 500ths of a second. So Christa is gonna come on over on the set, do you need another couple minutes with her? Okay, cool. And if we could get Christa a microphone. Hey, Christa, how you doing? I'm good, how are you? Thanks for coming, so to frame this in sort of a real-world sort of way, I thought what if Christa was hiring me to take some pictures of her for her new press kit, or to do what, get an agent's attention, or any new dance companies? Right on. So maybe she wants me because we have some mutual friends and maybe your friend is best friends with my wife, and I'm doing you a favor, for whatever reason she's come to do some business with me, and I'm just saying why would she come to a guy who doesn't really shoot dance photography. You know what I mean? You start picking a good photographer by hiring somebody who does what they do, right? I have done some action stuff like that, but you're hiring me. So Christa, what do you need today? What are you looking for? I thought we could have a conversation about that. Well, I'm looking for some dance shoots to add to my portfolio that would be exciting and dynamic and show what I can do now. Okay, so exciting and dynamic, tell me what that looks like. That's a good question. In my mind I see like big jumps, and also really graceful pictures that show off my physique and yeah. Beautiful 'cause I got to show off your physique lighting like on lock right here, you know? So that sounds good, and throughout the day you know what we'll be shooting together, you can see what we're doing, we can have a little conversation about it, we can work on how to make stuff better, and so you just want some arcing peak moments, really showing off some moves, graceful, beautiful expression, anything else in there you want? I was thinking black and white 'cause it's really classy. Okay and there's not a lot of color in this shot. I mean you're wearing a splash of color, but yeah we could see how it looks in color but I'm feeling black and white are you with that? Sounds good. Alright, why don't you just noodle into makeup a little bit more if you're cool with that, and I'll take that mic from you. So just listening to your client, hearing their needs, I think that's like so important. I can't underestimate that enough. 'Cause that's what we're here to do, we provide a service to people. It's like if you go to a barber and they don't cut your hair the way you want. I don't know if anybody's gotten a bad haircut, you left, you know? I don't want to be that guy who gives somebody a bad haircut and then they have to walk around looking like a clown. So let's just talk about the light on the set a little bit and why I've chosen to light like this, and some of the choices I made. I got a Magnum reflector over here, I'm just gonna drop this flag so we can see it a little bit better. We've just staged it up in that corner, tied it to the speed rail with the super clamps, and that's a little bit of grip, right? And the modeling light's off right now because I was worried the model lights might effect my exposure a little bit, they might show up as trails or something like that which I didn't want. So I put it up there, I got a piece of cinefoil on there. What's the cinefoil doing? Yeah, it's subtractive lighting, right? It's acting as a gobo or flag, it's just pulling some of that spill off the back wall. I don't want a big hot spot on that back wall so I got the black foil. And then I have this other black card coming up in this part, and what's this one doing? It's keep it from blasting in my lens, right? Flare, right? So it's keeping it just from putting a big hot spot. Kind of check that light over here. Alright, that's cool. Could you, Alex, just jump up there and turn that light? So I just want to look at the lights one at a time, and for some reason I'm going to start with this back light. And I've chosen a little bit of backlight because I want, backlight from both of my lights almost. So can you give me a picture, Chris? From the low angle, yeah. Just this one's firing I think right. So only looking at this edge light. Out of focus, want to try one more? Yeah, we can try one more. Cool, so just see what that one edge light is doing from the back? Cool did you just give me 100% of that, Chris? I can get you close. Okay, alright, great. So we're just taking a look at what one light's doing, and I'm a really big fan of taking one of these P50, these big Magnum reflectors and putting it as far away as possible and letting it rake across my shot like that, as a great sort of edgy highlight thing. So Alex, could you block that light for me? And I'm gonna go up here and turn this one on and we'll just look at this one by itself. Is that edge light off? Oh, you're blocking... He's just blocking it for us. So we didn't shut that one off because it would be such a monkey business to get up in that corner so we're just blocking it entirely. So do we have a lot of black on this right now? Is there a lot of compression here? Yeah, there's a bit of crunching on the black. Yeah let's bring the blacks up a little bit, there bring 'em down a little bit. That's looking better. Little too rock and roll. So we're just taking a look at what this one giant umbrella is and why do I want to use a giant umbrella here? Anybody want to guess? I mean just off the top of your head, or with the microphone? Yeah? 'Cause the dancer's movement have her in the light. Yeah and a very broad source. Like I don't wanna use a tiny little spotlight where I can only take a picture of her in this little spot you know? Sometimes it can be called 'cinematic lighting' and cinematic lighting's like light you can walk through and move through, so sort of a broad source. It looks like I'm getting a little bit of spill back here, I don't know how I feel about that. So could you stand there for one more second? That might not've just been properly flagged in back. Oh, you think that's the flag in the back? It's coming from that side? Looks like it. Okay, yeah it is, okay cool. So we see what that light's doing, how much it's working, so a couple edge lights or slashers, and why edge lights and slashers, I want to really show off her physique, right? Her long arms, her grace, isn't that right, Chris? Isn't that what you want? Yeah! Alright so there we are, looking good, looking good, looking good. You want to see what it looks like with both lights? Yeah with both lights, we'll bring 'em both in. Oh yeah, like Baryshnikov. We've got that apple box in that shot, if we could strike that, and we could strike that flag back there. But what's a little wrong here, people? What's wrong, what's little? (grunting choke) C minus? What's looking C minus to you? Jaybird? I'd say over all it's a little flat, and I see a light leak from the Magnum coming in on the floor that gives a spot and creates a shadow in the background and in the front. Yeah so the Magnum is creating like a cone coming out right behind you at an angle and then thus giving a shadow in the background and in the foreground. Let me see that area he's talking about. You're talking here? Yeah, and back up against the wall too. Uh-huh, where on the wall there, let me just zoom out. No, like on the ground right where it meets the wall there's just like an angle shadow space coming, yeah top and bottom of that cone of light right there. Yeah, this I would fix a little bit in pose. I'm not gonna stress on that, right? Yeah I hear you. But the big thing that bothers me is there's just nothing coming in the front, right? It's just kind of hard and from the side. And I kind of look a little bit strange and I think again we might be seeing a little bit of the phenomenon of our, is she ready to go? Cool, let's just do one more, and I'm gonna just to bring in, you know I like terminology a lot, I don't know if anyone's ever heard this term but they're called Hollywooding in a light. That's when you hand hold in a light. Anyone ever heard that before? Yo, could you Hollywood in that light for me? So you're Hollywooding it in, you're just hand holding it. Why am I going to have somebody hand hold it? Movement right? Like when she moves we just follow her around a little bit. She comes low, light comes low, so there becomes this weird dance with the model. And I can't stress enough, I don't know, Chris have you ever been photographed by a photographer who wants to put you on a roll of paper and then you're jumping and the paper's slipping and the whole set's gonna fall down on you. Have you ever been there? Like I was thinking of using a canvas background or a paper background but when I understood we wanted to do some really high-jumping stuff, paper's a really bad move to do there. Has anybody ever been through that? Yeah you guys been through that? The paper can slip, it can rip, your model can fall on her butt and then lights fall on her head, and then you know, nobody wants to kill the dancer, right? Nobody wants to do that. So safety, safety, safety, always thinking things through.

Class Description

The ability to freeze a moment of time can show power, emotion and detail. Learn how to utilize high speed flash duration to create powerful images in a fraction of a second. Through a variety of examples, Clay Patrick McBride will have you experimenting with your photography in a new way. He’ll explain:

  • High Speed Syncing techniques
  • T1 and T2 Flash Duration
  • How to capture the tiniest of details like water droplets or dust
  • Different trigger techniques depending on your unique setup



I enjoyed Clay's workshop, he is very methodical, and had clear simple explanations for the various shoots. I am excited to experiment with different lighting because he made it seem easy. As he mentioned "start small and make it bigger, bigger, bigger. Thanks!

joanne duncan

I agree with Alison, i think this could have been so much better. Too much tampering around on set, i like the small talk and the model talks, love his presence, very charismic, the only thing that kept me watching although i did fast forward some bits. just too slow and not much info.


Watched it live, I thought it had lots of great info. Hoping to buy it soon.