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I found this photo after Van had entered a photo of himself in the bunnyhop photo contest, popping a stylish hop in the middle of a pristine, fragile-looking living room. I was intrigued and looked through some of his other work and found this. I thought it was funny and original and asked him about it.
“Damn. It’s been over four years since I shot this. The marks on the wall are long since gone, despite having persisted in randomly appearing briefly every now and then over the years. Riding in unusual places is something I’ve always enjoyed. Or maybe I just go crazy on rainy/freezing days. Self-shooting with a “stock10″ timer is a fun challenge for me, it’s like, “Shit, what can I do, when I gotta do it, now.” I’ve done shots in my room, the living room, the basement, and here, the hallway. I tried setting up a shot for a cave-man into the stairs. Fell trying to get everything set up, so that idea died quickly.There’s a full series I’ve wanted to do, just never got around to finishing it. I probably should.
This was at 1/125, f/8 my gold standard back in the day. Iso was probably 100. The flashes were high left, low right, probably something like a 1/4 power Vivi285 and a 1/8 powerSun555, respectively. I had my 20D with a Tokina 10-17 + 1.4 tele-conv. at about 35mm, all said and done. This was a meager attempt at imitating film, something I love, respect, but can’t bring myself to have an ongoing relationship with; shoot me.”
Check out more of Van’s work here.
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I linked up with Josh McElwee during Texas Toast and suggested that we film a behind-the-shot feature for a desktop wallpaper. We agreed that an appropriate location would be the Five Hip ditch and that his friend James Harvey would be a perfect candidate to get the photo.
Josh has a very impressive portfolio that showcases his ample understanding of lighting. He also seems to have the optimal amount of obsessive-compulsive disorder that any photographer should have. It’s worth mentioning that this shoot was a bit rushed, with the NORA Cup party happening less than two hours after we got on location.
How the photo was made:
See a full list of the gear and accessories that Josh uses in his bag check.
Main bag contains the following:
Canon 5D MK II
Canon 15 f/2.8
Canon 50 f1.8
Canon 70-200 f/4
Sekonic L-358 Incident Meter
Four (4) Pocket Wizard transceivers w/ corresponding sync cords for each flash
Einstein 640 watt second strobe w/ 8.5 in. reflector (45 degrees)
Two Vivitar 285 hot shoe flashes
In the smaller compartments, the odds and ends are as follows:
Small gels for hot shoe flashes
Black cinefoil snoot
Extra sync cords
Extra CF card
Rocket air blower
The second bag (black Animal backpack) contains the following:
Two (2) Vagabond Mini Lithium Battery Packs
Alien bee 800 (320 watt second) strobe w/8.5 inch reflector
Large sheets of cinefoil put together with gaffers tape. Used to flag excess light when using the reflectors on the strobes.
15 degree honeycomb grid
Lee Gel Pack – I mostly use the color correction gels (CTO, CTB, and fluorescent) in various strengths. There are also sheets of diffusion material and theatrical color gels that I use occasionally.
Thanks to everyone who entered- all of your shots were damn good. In the end we chose the shots with the smoothest tracking and zoom, the more striking light, use of unconventional angles and all-around cleanliness. The gear used was not taken into consideration, nor was the trick being executed. Remember that cameras don’t film people, people film people. You can make a beautiful shot with cameras of any price range and a little bit of work.
Honorable mention #1: Anthony Loconte – A very smooth tracking glidecam shot with a gorgeous blue sky, a pleasing depth-of-field and bonus points for the use of a graduated ND filter.
Honorable mention #2: Eddie Olschansky – Even though there’s another filmer in the shot, that shadow cast on the wall is super powerful and the overall lighting is very dramatic. I guess I never said there was no slow-motion or editing allowed, so I’ll allow it. Bonus points for hand-zooming with the 24-70mm f/2.8L.
Honorable mention #3: Jacob Hope – I find it hard to believe but Jacob says this was filmed on his first day using the GL2. I’m usually not a fan of foreground objects but it works for this skatepark shot of Morgan Wade. Bonus points for Oasis playing in the background.
Third place: Dylan Thompson – Despite the not-quiet skateboard wheels, this shot uses zoom nicely- going from wide to open and give context, zooming slowly on the rising action and isolating the trick and the rider towards the end. The rolling dynamics are beautiful- the way the rider is moving opposite the camera in the beginning adds an illusion of high speed. Then as soon as the rider’s direction switches, the shot becomes super fluid with the action moving in sync with the camera, making the nose manual look so much more majestic. The lighting throughout the shot is also on point.
Second place: Justin Browne – Nazaz said it best- “I hate that trick but the way it was filmed made me like it.” Personally my favorite part of the clip is how the rider emerges from shadow into golden light as soon as he hops up those stairs, about to hit the rail. The color of the rails complement the warm ambiance as well. The angle is choice (except for how it understates the height of the rail- although it doesn’t look to be too tall in the first place). The zoom is super smooth throughout and the rider’s exit is very graceful while the camera slowly comes to a still shot of the warm ground.
First place: Jeremie Infelise – This was the only shot that was on everyone’s top three list. I am partial to any tailwhip shot from above because of the way the bike looks spinning around under the rider- almost a point-of-view angle. Jeremie chose the most difficult way to film this trick- by climbing a tree- and it definitely paid off. Much like in the second place clip, the vantage point might make the rail look a bit shorter, but let’s be real for a minute- Jared Swafford is like 7 foot-a-million so any rail is baby to him. The shot opens with just a still shot, tree limbs in view, with no rider in sight. You can’t even see the rail yet. Much drama. Then here comes Jared, with a smooth track, hopping onto the rail. As soon as he’s on the rail there are no longer any obstructing tree limbs in the shot- just rider and obstacle (the angle further isolates this relationship- there is nothing else in frame to be distracted by. He launches off the rail and kicks a near-flawless tailwhip (the dynamics of which I previously explained)- all the while the camera zooms ever-so-slightly, keeping rider almost perfectly framed in a clearing of branches. He lands, obviously not directly to pedals (we aren’t judging the trick, remember that) but here’s the kicker- you can’t see him fix his footing because of the branches in our line-of-sight. Either Jeremie ingeniously foresaw this situation or it happened serendipitously… It doesn’t matter. It worked perfectly. Jared rolls out of frame and the camera swiftly tilts and zooms to the ground, the sure sign of a successful clip.
Look out for the next contest in the coming weeks.
Photo by Corey Martinez
“Memory cards and hard drives don’t crash as much as we BMXers do but when it happens you’ll often have other BMXers there to lend a hand.“
A textbook example of great framing, this week’s photo is as clean as they come. All of the rider (minus a shoelace) is placed neatly in the sky just above the horizon. The coastline contours the form of the rider and his bike quite nicely too. A classic trick at a beautiful spot makes for a timeless BMX photograph. The only thing that makes me mad about this photo is that I can’t be there right now riding the spot.
“This was my first time at this secret spot near Santa Cruz, CA. The homie Nick Krauer told me this ditch would be a great spot to shoot photos but that was an understatement. I was pretty bummed on not having any of my flash set up with me, but I made the best of what I had and managed to get some natural lighting shots. The lighting from the sun was perfect; golden hour before sunset. It helped to illuminate Nick as well as the background of Highway 1, the beach, and the hills. This ditch, although more ridable than most DIY spots, is nowhere near perfect, and this quarter has some serious kinks in it’s tranny. But Nick is no stranger to weird trannies, and fired out multiple tricks at proper height. This spot rules and I left a happy camper. Hit up Nick on instagram @nickkrauer and myself @bmxlovephotography. Thanks for reading homies!
18-55mm kit lens
1/1500 @ f/5.6 ISO 100″
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