Friday, February 26, 2010

Athletic Shoot | davem photography

For a while now I've been interested in creating athletic images in a creative and editorial style. The idea is to get high school athletes and their parents interested in this kind of photo shoot. Instead of an ordinary senior portrait session, how about a session that makes the student athlete look like he/she just landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated. First I needed to get a subject to shoot, and that's what I did.
Dwight contacted me through Model Mayhem. He had seen some of my work and wanted to do a shoot to build up his portfolio and I needed a model to create the athletic images I wanted to shoot.

I've also wanted to shoot at a location that was not typical for sports. I chose a garage in downtown Atlanta that I had checked out before. I remember seeing an image that Zack Arias shot with a band and I liked the curved lines of the parking structure. I looked like it was shot with a fisheye lens, but the subjects were not distorted. So I set out to search for a garage with circular ramps. This is when Google Maps with satellite view really helps in scouting locations.
I had seen some images that I really like on Flickr from photographer Joel Grimes. He gave a description to his lighting and I used that as a guide for my images. He does use the HDR technique on his backgrounds and will shoot athletes separately and then composite the final image in Photoshop. I was more interested in the lighting style than trying to replicate his shooting and design style.
Joel typically used two gridded softboxes for his side lights and either a beauty dish or octobox for his main light. Since I only have 1 soft box, I needed to improvise and come up with a more economical solution. I purchased a set of Honl Speed Grids for my side lights. I used my Wescott 28" Apollo Softbox for my main light. My lighting diagram is below.
I'm really pleased with the end result. The  drawback to using the spot grids, is the light becomes a narrow beam and placement becomes really important to get the right look. If the model moves slightly forward or leans down a bit, the light needs to be adjusted. I found myself tweaking the angle of lights throughout the shoot and at times asking Dwight to hold a position for a while while I shot a series of frames and as I tweaked the light. What I figured out during my testing, is that I could zoom my flash head all the way in and reduce the power of light. I had the Canon 430EX's zoomed to 105mm and the power at 1/16. Which gave me great recycle time and batteries lasted the entire 3 hour shoot in 40ยบ weather.

Here are more from the basketball setup.
The last 2 images where done using only the softbox.

We moved onto the next setup for football. Same location, I just changed my angle of shooting. I also switched out the softbox with a 60" reflective umbrella. I went up the ramp and shot this series from a higher angle.
I also wanted to try shooting in natural light and with a different lens. I switched out to my 70-200mm f/2/8. This is one of my favorite lenses, but also one of the hardest to shoot with. It's a heavy lens and shooting in natural light requires a fast shutter speed and a steady hand. Because we were inside a parking garage, there was very low light and I didn't get as many sharp shots as I wanted, but the ones I did get turned out really well.
Both of these shots were at the same location, but shooting in natural light with a different lens, makes these images look very different than the rest.

Here are more at a different location.
We then moved to another location for the baseball shots.
This was one of my favorite shoots, despite all the gear I had to drag around and the cold temps. Thank you Dwight for coming out and putting up with the cold weather. I'm really excited about shooting something similar again. This is the kind of shoot I want to be doing. If you know someone that is interested in getting athletic type portraits done, please contact me. For a limited time, I'll shoot these for free.

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.

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