I haven't been able to share this image with you for quite a while. It was done for a client that was going to use the images on a t-shirt and ended up not being able to make it work.
Very interesting shot, if I say so myself. It looks fairly easy, but in the end, was one of the most difficult shots I have ever done mentally.
There were so many variables to consider with this shot and it's set up, it was mind boggling.
When I was told about the concept, I did what any good photographer does.....start researching. I remember seeing this kind of photography in one of my old photo books. I also know that speed lights will do this to an extent. I knew speed lights weren't the ticket, as they didn't have enough recycle time for a commercial job. I also knew that my Bowens flash system, as amazing as it is, wasn't capable of such things. Once again, any good photographer calls in the experts. In my case, this was Rob at Pro Photo Supply here in my hometown of Portland. Rob is one of those guys that just knows everything it seems like. He knew just the right tool and brand of flash I needed to pull this off. As I am sponsored by Bowens, I will not list it here, but it is one of the larger brands.
As you can see from the shot, I needed to have talent that was able to do flips and break dancing for these shots. We found just the right guy, and he could literally stand there and jump and do a backflip, amazing!!!
The first thing I had to think about was making sure the background stayed black. That is what gave my my aperture setting. The interesting thing is that after I figured that out, I had to back track. Once I started shooting, I realized that the first thing I needed was the shutter speed. I had to know just how long that the shutter needed to be open to catch his jump. It had to be long enough for him to rotate, and had to be semi exact, because it needed to end when he hit the ground, or I would have multiple images of his feet hitting and bouncing. I came up with 2 seconds for the complete jump. I also had to make sure that I started the shot when he took off. It took a little practice to get this down, and I had to keep in mind that he was jumping and not only would he get tired, but his feet would be hurting from the hard landing.
The next problem to consider was the amount of "images" or flashes I needed. I had a blank black frame to fill at this point, and every flash would create an image on the black frame. After some experimenting, we figured out 18-20 depending on the movement he was doing. More would make the image almost unreadable, and less would make it too readable.
Easy peasy right? Wrong!!! Now the hard calculations started. I had to figure out the power output of each flash, for a proper exposure. Once that was figured out, I then had to figure out not only the length of the flash, but also the amount of time between flashes!!! Talk about making your head explode!
At the end of the day, it all worked out amazingly well, and I learned a lot. What I did in prep the day before made the difference. Remember this was new lighting gear. I couldn't just show up and wing it. I needed to know how it all worked. The day before, I had my assistant come in and we worked on it for hours. Figuring out how all the settings worked and what I might encounter. I knew that the day of the shoot there would be issues to work through, but the last thing I wanted was to be working through gear I didn't know. Planning goes a long way on difficult shoots. The more planning you can do ahead of time, the easier your shoot will go if something goes wrong. KNOW YOUR GEAR!!
Below is a quick video of what the actual shot looked like as it was taken. The power output was so high, the studio started to smell like after a thunderstorm!
I hope you enjoyed this post, more to come soon!