A little while ago I attended an ASMP seminar here in L.A. with one of the leading minds in commercial photography and business practices Bill Cramer of Wonderful Machine. It was an extremely insightful seminar and really helpful. I had submitted my website for review and it got it’s fair share of criticism, but the thing he said to me that stuck with me the most was “Show how you’re different. Show the work you WANT to be doing”. He was referring to a lot of the work I was showing that utilized only natural or ambiant light and commented further that everyone in my niche (Outdoor and Lifestyle Sports) shoots with ambiant light and everything pretty much looks the same at a certain point. After the seminar I trimmed my pages down focussing on the work that separates me from so many, the fact that I take my experience as an action sports photographer and add to my frames greater and more diverse light. I try not to over do it, as I like my work to maintain the sense that its a photograph and not an illustration, but I also like my subjects to be more dynamically lit that just the sun hitting them from one direction. Also, in many cases I’m working under tight deadlines and if the light doesn’t do what I want it to I don’t have the luxury of waiting for a better day. Dragging studio lights on location can be a lot of added work, but in the long run it’s worth it to have those additional assets.
For the most part, I’m able to light and shoot my subjects in such a way that I can work in a single plate. I like to get as much in camera and do as little work as possible on the back end. I’m not a wizard in Photoshop and I like to show that I’m a good photographer, thus I do minimal style work in post and present a finished product that closely resembles what came off the camera. Despite all of that, for a recent project I did for Pactimo Clothing, that wasn’t an option. In full disclosure, I wouldn’t have had any idea how to accomplish this shot if it weren’t for a good friend named Scott Dukes, another L.A. Photographer who does incredible automotive work. Yes, two plate build ups are laughably easy, but hey… I want to give credit where credit is due (And he does significantly more complex work).
That’s the finished image. Basically, due to the width of the road and how bright it was required me to place a light pretty close to my lead rider to get the light I wanted.
So, as you can see we have 1 AB800 in frame, then one out of frame at about 10 o’clock to the first rider. There is also another AB800 straight on to the riders directly behind me. The sun also played some in the shot, and was at about 7 o’clock to the first rider. With this frame I also shot a 2nd plate without the lights or the riders.
Between these two shots I had everything I needed. I imported both frames into Photoshop, layered and simply erased the areas I didn’t want in the picture. In this case the light and sandbags and some of the flair from the light. I did have to do some evening in color as the light had changed between the frames, but it was minimal. I also cropped the image later on as well. I thought about adding some clouds in from a separate plate, but I wasn’t sure what my client would want to do for copy, and I figured a consistant background in the sky would probably be better in the long run. I know it’s not a terribly impressive build up, but it was my first significant build up for a client. A second build up I did for the same client is currently being used in their trade show booths. Like I said before, My preference is definitely shooting single plate work and doing as little in post as possible but that isn’t always an option, and it’s good to know that with a little help from some technology, and good planning in camera that I can still accomplish my overall goal with the shot.
You can see work from this shoot and the MTB shoot we did later that same week running on www.pactimo.com