Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Athletic Shoot | davem photography

Last week I posted this image on Facebook as a preview to this shoot and got a great response. I have to say that this has been my favorite photoshoot so far, because the images created surpassed my vision.
Some of the comments ranged from the sharp images to my own safety in not getting run over. There was a trick I used to make sure I would would be able to capture the image with the perfect lighting in the same spot shot after shot. Hit the "Read More" link for a BTS image on how it was shot.

That's the secret. I had the cyclist on a stationary trainer.  I was able to setup lights exactly like I wanted and I changed up the angle to give a sense of motion and crop in camera the lower half so not show the trainer.
I worked with Sabine, a model I found on Model Mayhem. She's not a cyclist, but a Power Instructor at Gold's Gym. I provided all the cycling gear including helmet, shoes, trainer & glasses.

This was a 3 light setup. Main light is a DIY Beauty Dish with a 580EXII and side lights were 430EXII with Grids for an edgy look. This was the first time using the Beauty Dish and I have to say, it's becoming my favorite modifier. The shoot started at 6 p.m. at Little Mulberry Park in Gwinnet County.

What I really love about these images is the lighting and I surprised myself in creating a look that seems to have the sun on the left, but actually, the sun is on the right and behind the trees. I was lucky enough to find a parking spot right next to the trail that was shaded by trees. Because of the shade, I didn't have to try and overpower the sun with small flashes, I only needed enough light to recreate a natural look. I shot between 1/160 & 1/250 shutter speed to bring down the ambient and get a nice blue sky. I was also able to bring in more blue in post production using Lightroom.
This shoot is a personal project and something I'd like to do more of, either for individuals or editorial publications. As a location/environmental portrait shooter, I'm looking for interesting subjects or locations and I've always been drawn to athletic portraits I've seen in editorials as features or advertising. I'm currently training for triathlons and I'm always looking at fitness magazines or cycling catalogs and trying to figure out the lighting and how it was shot. That's how this shoot came about.
The low angles and placing Sabine in the right side of the frame allowed me to create the illusion of movement. I also like the colors in these images. Kind of got lucky with matching the glasses and Sabine's top. It just so happened that's what she was wearing and I think the color of the shades and top worked out nicely.
I was a little worried about using the sunglasses. I was afraid that the eyes would get lost, but I think this also worked well. I made sure that Sabine looked up toward the light, so that I could light up the eyes behind the shades.

I shot several that had a more serious and focused look of an athlete in training, but I really liked the versions with Sabine smiling. It's the kind of image that shows you cycling is fun and you should also be out enjoying a beautiful day.
I think that's why I'm drawn to athletic images that are done this way. When I see some of these powerful athletic images, I want to be a participant or at least think, I may want to give this sport a try.  I want to be outdoors taking in a beautiful scenery and knowing that I'm doing it as a way to stay fit is a bonus. It's how I got into road/off-road cycling and running. Now I'm adding swimming and training for triathlons. Having a connection to these activities makes creating these images a lot of fun.
I overheard a couple walking by at one point discussing that Sabine must be a professional cyclist. She really looked the part and I would love the opportunity to work with more athletes and expose their athletic ability to a wider audience.

As I mentioned, Sabine is a Power Instructor and I wanted to make sure she got some images that showed off her physique and her personality. These were all done with the Beauty Dish.
I feel like I've reached a new level and I'm very happy with the images from this shoot. I'm always very critical of my own work, but I think this time I'm actually going to get a large print made. It's going to be hard to pick one though.

Special thanks to Sabine. You were a pleasure to work with. I know it wasn't easy sitting on a bike for as long as you did, but you made it look effortless and you looked like a natural on a bike.

I was inspired by working with Zack Arias on his personal project several months ago. I learned that I have to invest some of my time, energy and even personal expense if I want to grow and take my work to a higher level. Even though this was a quick 2 hour shoot, it feels like a lot more time was put into it. I still have more ideas that I want to try. Sabine and I discussed several before our shoot and we didn't get around to doing them, so there will be another shoot and I'm looking forward to it.

Please leave me comments and let me know what you think. I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts, good or bad. After viewing the cycling images, were you motivated to get on a bike or at the very least consider the possibility of getting on a bike and enjoying a nice day outdoors? If you've managed to read this entire post, thank you.

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


Rhonda said...

Great job on these Dave!

Steven Skelton said...

Nice job! I thought she was riding until I saw the setup shot! Good work all around. I really think you're finding your niche with this sports stuff. Keep it up!