Monthly Archives: December 2012

Photo of the Week: Levi Marshall

This week’s photo is of Steven Hamilton in Columbus, Ohio, shot by Levi Marshall. What attracted me to it initially were the colors- his grips, shirt and pedals matching the surrounding sky pretty nicely. The composition is strong and the framing in front of the building is spot-on. The lighting is deep but not overly dramatic. It is an undeniably action-packed shot with an amazingly precise exposure.

“I shot this photo late last spring in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was my first time shooting with Hamilton. He loves fisheye and doesn’t like shadows on his face in riding shots. So I put the flash in front of him up really high on a light stand and squatted pretty low in a bush for my angle. In post, I warmed up the photo a little since it was super overcast. I also cloned out a couple spots of flash flare since I was using a cheap fisheye.

Canon EOS 7D, Rokinon 8mm fisheye, Vivitar 285HV main flash at 1/4 power, Vivitar 285HV for the kicker light 1/2 power, Paul C. Buff Cybersyncs. Camera settings: 1/250th at around f/8 iso 250.”

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Clothing Photography Walkthrough

Hopefully this helps you shoot some of your own.

Photo of the Week: Pete Brandt by Kyle Emery-Peck

This week’s photo is shot by San Francisco’s Kyle Emery-Peck.

“I had a bmx photo that I wanted to shoot with Pete where I framed him at the bottom of my composition. I get in the habit of composing riders in the top of my composition so I wanted to change it up. My friend Terry reminded me of this location in Chinatown. It was later in the day, so the sun was getting lower in the sky. It just so happened that I was shooting toward the East, so it made for great ambient light. I set up two Sunpak 555’s at 1/2 power one on the left and one on the right. I shot with Fuji Provia 100F on my Hasselblad 500c with an 80mm 2.8 I think the exposure came out to 1/500 @ f/5.6. From there I just gave Pete a target to aim, and let the Pete Brandt machine go to work. I was happy after 3 or 4 attempts. Pete is by far the most dialed flatlander to shoot. He lands the most technical tricks so consitsently that I feel good about shooting film.”

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A Short History Of The GIF

And my favorite GIF, featuring Mike Mastroni-
mike

Photo Of The Week: Ivan Maslarov

The photo this week comes to us from London- a smith grind by Svetoslav Nikolov shot by Ivan Maslarov.

“Its November and it is getting dark around 4:30 so all sessions are shut down by darkness or just because its too cold. This one ended with an amazing sunset where the colors were warm yellow purplish and the sky, clouds and shadows were cold blues. I called the trick quickly and tried to shoot some fisheyes with the very last direct natural. As soon I was left only with the dusk I switched to a fast prime with two flashes from the same direction gelled at the temp of the settled sun and diffused to match the soft ambient. 5d MK2, ef 85, f1.8, 1\250, sb 28 and sb 80 left from the frame directly at him.”

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Austin 2010: A Natural Light Adventure

2010 was a crazy year for me. For whatever reason, I decided that I would be better off shooting without any artificial light or flashes, and sold them all. I spent a few months in Austin at the OSS house, shooting with the crew while they filmed for “Football”. No one really wanted to do anything serious for my camera, since I lacked the practical equipment, and my demeanor was less than professional. No offense was taken, and I assumed the role of B-sides photographer, shot a lot of sequences and some HD video (Using the 5DII at the time).

Without external lighting, I had to rely on ambient light and composed my photographs using the more basic elements- form, shape, space and color. All of these were shot with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens.

 

For the entire duration of my stay in Austin, Kareem wore these red pants. This was the only time I was actually excited for their presence. The obvious element here is color- the red plays off the blue pretty strong. The centered composition demands your attention. I also consciously chose a more shallow depth of field so that the background wouldn’t distract too much. Looking at it now, I should have opened up even a little more, maybe to f/2. This ledge slid really nice and I chose to ride it more than shoot it. This is actually opposite for Kareem. 1/3000 @ f/2.8  ISO200

 

 

We went to this church so that Mastroni could ride across some jungle gym in the playground nearby. While waiting for him to rake out a path, Jake noticed that it would be pretty easy to get onto the roof. It was tough for him to get speed to make it to the top, but he did it a few times then threw the bars. Timing isn’t perfect- you can’t win ‘em all. This image is filled with shapes, most square or triangle. Besides the door knob and deadbolt, which are barely visible, the only other circles are Jake’s wheels. This juxtaposition would have been much more prominent if the timing were better, and you could see more of his front wheel. 1/3000 @ f/4.5  ISO100

 

 

I’m pretty sure this was my first night in Austin and it was raining. We hit the local parking garage to do hoodrat stuff and smoke with cigarettes. At this point I honestly had no idea how fucking good Garrett was. He did some stylish hops and tables over the guardrail, but aesthetically a hop over the post looked better. I will admit that I had a camera light directly out of frame to the left to make him pop out a bit. I am really into the geometry of most parking garages and this one is no exception. I think the red flannel makes the photo work so well here. 1/1500 @ f/1.4  ISO3200

 

 

This spot was on our ride toward downtown so Craig, Charlie and I would ride it often. There was something else here besides this bank, I don’t remember what it was though. The sun was above/behind this building, setting a darker backdrop while the foreground is still illuminated. The angle of the light works perfectly here to put a rim around Craig, popping him out of the background. I really enjoy the colors here- the blues and greens from the window reflections and the purple of his wheels. 1/2000 @ f/2.8  ISO100

 

 

I’m pretty sure this is in San Marcos, not Austin. We drove down there once or twice and pedaled around the campus during the day and hit the city at night. We found this wallride by Taco Bell, I think. I don’t know, for some reason this reminds me of Taco Bell. Jake was boosting it pretty high so I took out the camera. I aimed to have those pillars on the wall perfectly vertical, but obviously it doesn’t always work that way- I used Photoshop perspective control to straighten them out. My favorite part of this photo is the muted colors, due in part to the high ISO I had to use, and Jake’s unusually achromatic outfit (besides that yellow bracelet). 1/1000 @ f/1.4  ISO3200

 

 

This photo is largely unsuccessful because of the angle, making a hanger look like a smith. I don’t think I realized this would happen with Kareem’s front foot blocking his back wheel… Something I should have thought of, because unfortunately for me, he did it first try. The best part of this photo is Garrett’s tire marks on the wall from his “Football” ender. 1/3000 @ f/2  ISO800

 

 

If you haven’t noticed by now, my go-to angle is perpendicular to the path of action. I’ve found it makes for the best geometry, and especially here, properly displays the distance between two points. I was initially shooting fisheye to try to make the gap look bigger, but it really wasn’t necessary. The colors are great here, with the subtle yellow paint at the exact edges of the gap and Garrett’s mustard-ish colored hat. I really like the framing here, with him just about to reach the absolute middle of the frame. There was a little bit of sky included just out of frame but I cropped it out because it wasn’t important- I think it would have taken away from the composition. I’m almost positive this is a make too, and I think he might have done it twice… Either way, we should have been done for the day because he broke his foot less than an hour later. 1/2000 @ f/4  ISO200

 

 

This spot was real fun, with a bunch of driveway launches like that. It was hard to get speed for the ledge though because the of the corner you had to turn. I immediately saw that wall as a perfect frame for the action, and an excellent juxtaposition to all of those meters and pipes to the left. I asked Jake for a few hangers into the wedge- this isn’t actually the best one he did, but for the better one he wasn’t wearing the green hat. That green hat really brings the whole image together, in my opinion. I stamped out some numbers that were on that white door on the left because they were distracting. This is my second favorite image from Austin- it’s cluttered and clean at the same time. 1/4000 @ f/2  ISO400

 

 

This is my favorite photo from Austin. Even if I had flashes with me, I wouldn’t have set them up for this shot. This spot was so wild, I still don’t understand the practical use of the satellite dish to turtle shell. There was a ladder scaling the side of the building that immediately caught my attention. The roof was 15 to 20 feet off the ground- a perfect height for framing the riders. On top of that, the sun was in a perfect position to cast that shadow in the cereal bowl. A few people were riding while I was up there- Jake was doing one-footed x-ups, Alex Magellan was doing tire grabs, Garrett was 3’ing it and Greg D’Amico did a one-footed no hander. In the end, it was Eric “Ewip” Whitescarver’s classic turndown that took the cake. There’s a reason why the turndown is the most popular trick to grace the covers of any BMX magazine. The most challenging part of shooting this was figuring out where to focus, because there’s nothing suspended in mid-air to pre-focus on. The second most challenging part was not falling off the roof. 1/4000 @ f/4  ISO100

 

I moved back to New York and promptly bought a grip of Sunpak 555 flashes. Sure they make your bag a bit heavier, and you usually need to carry light stands as well, but the results are generally worth it. I also learned that people don’t think you can make a serious photograph without them… ha! Well, they might be right- none of these were ever in print.

My time with working with natural light helped me to compose a photograph more carefully, having to focus only on what is already there. It forced me to pay more attention to the sunlight and how some shadows are as important as the light itself. It helped me learn about colors- which ones work with others and which ones don’t. I re-learned the value of depth-of-field and how it effects the viewer’s attention.

I highly suggest shooting with natural light for a little bit- just to get back to the roots of photography. You definitely don’t have to sell all your flashes though, just leave them at home.