Tag Archives: Josh McElwee

RideBMX “One Moment in BMX” Video

Late last year Ride went to their contributors with the idea of shooting photos at a specific time to showcase just how much BMX is going on around the world at any given time. November 23rd at 1pm PST was go time and teams of riders, photographers and filmers from California to Spain all converged on that One Moment to collectively create something special. The article came out awesome and this video does well to show the anticipation, the build up and the payoff of one extraordinary moment in BMX.

TCU TV – The Photographer’s Discussion

A while back, I had the chance to get a few established photographers in the industry together to talk shop. I had a loose list of topics we could hit and Jeremy had a list of his own. We didn’t get to hit nearly as many subjects as we would have liked to, but that’s usually how these things go. I think we did pretty well with the time allotted and we’re hoping that any aspiring lensmen will be enlightened by our discussion.

If there are any specific topics that you’d want us to hit for the next discussion, please leave them in a comment below.

1:09 – Jeremy Pavia introduction
2:47 – Chris Mortenson introduction
4:28 – Josh McElwee introduction
6:25 – Jeremy’s “Through The Lens” column from The Union
9:21 – “Film vs. Digital” (actually we discuss Dean Collins and teaching for a while)
11:22 – We actually start discussing the film versus digital thing
13:26 – Shoutout to the darkroom
18:53 – What’s your favorite f/stop?
21:31 – “I just wanna capture the moment and sometimes the moment is shitty”
23:00 – No more hanging posters
24:11 – “Print vs. Online”
25:08 – Gregory Crewdson
28:48 – Readership
30:16 – Vinyl vs. MP3
30:55 – The Albion
31:55 – Props on VHS
36:04 – Josh’s story
37:45 – DIG/Focal Point
40:57 – A watered-down industry
43:35 – The process of shooting/choosing what gear to carry
46:13 – Getting the shot
49:22 – Fuck barspins.
50:35 – A collaboration between photographer and subject
55:19 – Riders getting hurt while shooting
57:01 – Shoutout to Kiraly
58:34 – RideBMX‘s 1 o’clock photo project
1:04:19 – Let’s talk about gear
1:08:57 – Advances in photo technology
1:12:25 – How to get your photos noticed
1:13:44 – Looking outside of BMX
1:15:43 – Experience
1:17:14 – Final thoughts and comments

Photo Of The Week: Josh McElwee

“I shot this at the end of April 2014 in Cocoa, Florida. This was taken just after 10 A.M. so the sun was slightly less difficult to deal with, much to my relief. The setup was pretty simple, two lights were used. The key light is an Einstein 640 with a 45 degree reflector at camera left and is slightly hidden by the left edge of the tree. I had it on a stand probably eight feet high and aimed up a reasonable amount in order to concentrate the light on the upper portion of the wall where James is hitting. The backlight is another Einstein with the same reflector about ten feet out of the frame at camera right. In order to avoid the dreaded double-shadow on the wall caused by using multiple lights, I placed the light in a doorway and feathered it slightly away from the wall. This gets the light slightly more off-axis and still gives a good highlight on James.

Tech info: Canon 5D MKII with 50mm f/1.8. 1/200 @ f/10, ISO 100.” – Josh McElwee

ART BMX Webzine Issue #7

ART BMX web#7 contenu

As always, this issue of ART BMX is filled with foreign words and great photographs. Check out the photo on page 63- definitely one of the most spectacular flatland photos I’ve ever seen but also one of my favorite riding photos ever (shot by Christian Vanhanja). Also on that note, our good friend Josh McElwee has a photo piece starting on page 142.

Photo of the Week: Josh McElwee

mulville by mcelwee

“This slab of cement is located in the Indian River along US Route 1 in Titusville, Florida. Mark noticed it while driving into town one day, and we decided that it was great location for a bunnyhop barspin photo.

We arrived around 3:30 in the afternoon, so the Florida sun was in full effect. Since we were in the water, my setup options weren’t exactly ideal for getting the strobes in super close to Mark, which is my first line of defense when trying to freeze action during the middle of the day. The first light that I set up was an Einstein on half-power (320 w/s) on the cement slab parallel to the one Mark is riding. Although I placed it in a rim/kicker light position, it serves as the main light in this case by both lighting the camera-right side of his face, and freezing his spokes (to a degree). The atypical positioning was done in an attempt to get the light a little more off-axis and create some depth, and avoid having flat-looking light.

I placed two more strobes in the water about 15-20 feet from the slab. The large distance is due to the depth of the river, although I might have been able to get away with putting them in closer, I wouldn’t trust having normal light stands in water more than a few inches (a C-stand would be a perfectly safe solution, though). To compensate for the distance, I used an Alien Bee 800 at full power (320 w/s) on a small stand, and another Einstein at half-power on a larger stand. This gave me a reasonably large amount of light to kick some fill into Mark’s face and the front of his bike.

Both the pair of strobes and the single strobe metered at f/11. I ended up shooting a third of a stop under at f/13, just to try and get the sky a tiny bit darker, knowing that I could bring back detail from the flash portion of the exposure in post without much of a hassle. I originally envisioned the photo with Mark in the left side of the frame, but it just wasn’t working out, so I ended up switching the composition completely about halfway through shooting. Mark was nice enough to fire out a whole bunch of these so that I could get the framing and timing just right.

Tech info:

Canon 5D MK II
70-200 f/4
Paul Buff Einstein Strobes (2)
Alien Bee 800
Vagabond Mini Lithium Batteries (3)
Pocket Wizards
Light stands”

See more of Josh’s work here.

See Mark’s riding here.

Join the Flickr group.

Desktop Wallpaper – James Harvey by Josh McElwee


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.

Download the wallpaper here:

How the photo was made:

See a full list of the gear and accessories that Josh uses in his bag check.

Josh McElwee 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:

Ball bungees
Gaffers tape
Super glue
Small gels for hot shoe flashes
Black cinefoil snoot
Extra sync cords
AA batteries
Extra CF card
Lens cloth
Rocket air blower
Battery chargers


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.



Team SAF Photo Gallery

carter wallride

There’s a dialed photo gallery of the SAF crew riding some local spots in New Jersey over on The Albion website. Shot by Josh McElwee, these photos are definitely some of the cleanest to grace the internet.

Photo of the Week: Josh McElwee

josh stair potw

Not much to say about this photo- just that it will be the best Photo of the Week ever posted.

This was shot on an unseasonably warm, rainy December day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I was out shooting with Josh Stair, Evan Smedley, and Cody ‘Mclovin’ Neiswender when we rolled up to this rail. Josh fired out this switch tooth-hanger in one go.

Three lights were used in the making of this photo. The main light was an Einstein at camera right, about 8 feet up and aimed at the left side of Josh’s face, in order to cast a slight shadow on the side of his face most visible to the camera. This light was also feathered very far to the left in order to keep the light away from the building in the background. The rim light was an AB800 and came from camera left about 40 feet back. The large distance from the light to the subject causes the light to fall over a larger area, and gives me some detail in the trees on the right side of the frame. The final light was a Vivitar 285 on the ground, hidden behind the holiday greens on the bottom of the rail. This was just used as a general backlight and assisted in further separating him from the background.

Camera info:

Canon 5D MK II
70-200 f/4
1/200 at f/4.5, ISO 100

Check out more of Josh’s work here.

Join the Flickr group for a chance to be next week’s photo.

Photo of the Week: Josh McElwee


I chose this photograph to mark the beginning of fall, because I think this is about as summer as it gets. The tones are so warm that I can nearly feel it. The composition is incredible and the lighting is more-or-less perfect. It’s an ultra clicked invert and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on the cover or in the spread of the next Woodward brochure.

“This photo of Dan was shot in July at Woodward East. We originally decided to shoot a footjam on the 18ft. mini-mega ramp quarter, but a giant cloud came over the ramp and pretty much ruined the photo. The resulting sunset through the clouds, however, prompted me to ask Dan if he would be down to shoot something a few hundred feet away in The Cage.

We showed up right as the sun was disappearing over the horizon. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the pastel-like quality of the clouds facing southwest, behind the vert wall. I asked Dan if there was anything he would like to shoot on it. He simply responded ‘Table’, which was all I needed to hear. Since the sun had gone down by this point, I set out to mimic the last few moments of daylight via the use of three flashes.

All of the flashes used were gelled, no white light was used. The main light is an Einstein coming from camera left about 10-15 feet away from Dan, gelled with a ‘soft amber key’ to mimic the warm glow of a lamp high above. A one-stop sheet of diffusion material was also used to soften the edge of the light. The rim light was an AB800 about 50 feet back-camera right and aimed directly at the vert wall, feathered a considerable amount to the left in order to keep the light on the vert wall and not as much on the bank on the right side of the frame. This light was used to mimic the natural rim light effect that the sun would have normally. A 1/2 CTO was used to give this a slightly warm, more realistic feel. The third and final light was a Vivitar 285 hidden behind the vert wall, pointed at Dan, also with a 1/2 CTO, just for a little bit of underlight/separation.

I shot this wide open at f/4 in order to further enhance the soft quality of the clouds in the distance. Dan did the table twice, and this was the result.

Gear info:

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 70-200 f/4
Einstein 640
Alien Bee 800
Vivitar 285
Vagabond Mini battery packs
Pocket Wizard Transcievers
Various gel sheets”

More of Josh’s work can be seen here, and more of Dan’s riding can be seen here.

Join the Flickr group to get some help with your photography and become next week’s photo!