Sunday… 4am… Eyes open… FML.
That was the worst part… Oh, and the sweat. I’ll get to that.
Why was I voluntarily disturbing my slumber at this ungodly hour? A sunrise shoot of course.
‘, a local Miami owned and operated womens fitness wear line had commissioned my sleepy self to shoot 4 athletes doing their thing, whilst looking beautiful, in Ilo Gear’s vibrant threads. Had they seen my morning face before signing the contract, they may have reconsidered and called animal control. Fortunately, my early morning bloodshot eyes are reserved only for a lucky few.
Being a Virgo, I had painstakingly packed all my gear the night before and left it on my big wheeled cart next to the front door so that minimal brain power was required before sun-up.
In the grip bag (sounds like what I did a lot in my teens):
To move all this hardware; a ‘Rockin’ Roller Multi-Cart
‘… This I struggle with now because on my first day of ownership I beat parts of it with a hammer trying to fix a ‘defect’, because I didn’t read the instructions… Me man. No need paper (beats chest)… Now it flops around and is generally a bit shit… Totally my fault though. I’m sure it’s a stellar product before being bludgeoned.
I already knew I was only going to use half of the kit, but I feel more comfortable having the extra gear to hand if inspiration suddenly strikes and I want to mix things up.
There were two segments of the shoot; first in the early light was the yoga model. She would flex her shakra during the golden hour whilst I snapped away. Second, in the harsher sun, three runners, well, running.
My yoga model’s downward dog would be lit by a single strobe and my big soft silver 60″ umbrella. The natural light was soft at 6am, so I didn’t want to add a harsh modifier and remove too much realism from the image. The runners, on the other hand would be lit by two strobes, each with a long throw reflector attached to mimic the very hard and bright mid morning light.
These long throw fellas are just awesome! They’re big, shiny and I can fit my whole head inside… What more could you want?!
From previous shoots I had learned that mixing ambient and strobe light is very easy, but with a fast moving subject a new problem presents itself.
My Einsteins have a pleasantly fast flash duration, the sun does not. When shooting at the usual highest sync speed (for most, 1/200), it just isn’t quite enough to fully freeze a fast moving subject.
Your options are two fold:
A. Ensure that all angles of your subject are at least partially covered by strobe light, preferably at a stop or two above the ambient light to counter act any motion blur or ghosting.
B. Use Pocket Wizard’s awesome ‘HyperSync
Here is an example of ghosting from a previous shoot of mine with NFL linebacker, Nic Harris…. It’s cool in its own way, but not always the look you want to achieve.
The side of Nic lit up my strobe (left side) is nicely frozen. But the side lit by the sun (right side), has some serious motion blur. So essentially, the right is recorded at 1/200 of a second in the camera, as for the left side, the slowest would be 1/2,000 (which is the flash duration of the Einstein E640
at full power)… Big difference!
So to get around this problem (as much as possible) I placed one strobe in front of the models, and one behind. I placed each far enough away so that the difference in exposure would be minimal as the runners moved closer to the front facing light. This is where the long throw reflectors came in! They allowed me to place the strobes far away for very powerful precisely directed light, and based on the ‘inverse square law’ (I’ll let my good friend and educator Mark Wallace
explain that one here
if you’re not familiar – It’s a bit ‘sciencey’).
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Option B… HyperSync!! A godsend to the outdoor action shooter!! This mode, on newer Pocket Wizard models (see a list here) essentially allows you to go beyond the usual sync speed restrictions of 1/200(ish) shutter speed, and head all the way up to a possible 1/8000!! Action stopping heaven! All of the issues I was just whining about incessantly… Gone!
But nothing is perfect. here is the caveat. You have to use full power on your strobe or you will get ‘banding’… Yuck. Why is full power bad? Because you can probably only fire off one shot at a time instead of machine-gunning the shutter with a fast recycle time on your strobe at low power. So your timing must be impeccable. And you’re going to be resetting the shot potentially dozens of times until you catch it just right.
There is a possible solution to this problem which I have not yet experimented with, however I am planning to in the near future. It’s called ‘SpeedCycler
‘. New blog on this in the near future.
As the day moved on, in typical Miami fashion, it got hotter and hotter. Working in direct sun, carrying a hundreds pounds of gear, in South Florida, in the Summer, is not an easy task. If you don’t have water, you’re done. This is where the sweat came in. Anyone who has tried it, will know what I mean. When I was done, I ran fully dressed into a nearby fountain to cool off.
At 11:30am, it was a wrap.
My models had done an amazing job. And one of them had freakishly managed to not sweat a drop the entire day.
My yoga model was the awesome Liza Scott. Check out her fitness site at www.lizafit.com