Monday, November 16, 2009

Skate Denver Shoot

Sunny weather, smelly people(you know who you are...), sessioning features, and sun burns.  These are just some of the aspects that made up the great shoot that I had on Thursday for Cavan Images.

Read more and learn some of my methods to the madness.....................................

Let me just start by saying that the weather could not have worked out better.  We had mostly sunny skies with a temperature over 70 all day.  Not too bad since some forecasts were calling for snow and rain in the afternoon.  Take that forecasters, I predicted good weather, and I WIN!!! 

The night before started a bit rough.  We had 4 athletes scheduled to shoot, with checks already sent from the agency for them.  I made my calls around 8PM to make sure everyone is set on time and clothing (nothing with logos for editing).  Went to bed happy and content that everything was in order.  Then the text arrived at 10:30, keep in mind that we were meeting at about 6:30 the following morning....  One athlete cancelled saying that he just found out he had to work the next day, and cancelled via text.  I'm pretty positive he must have just been out partying and knew he didn't want to get up early the next morning.  What a bummer!  I made calls, had athletes make calls, and fortunately by 11:30 PM we had a new athlete.  Thanks for making that effort Josh!

We arrived in Downtown Denver by about 9AM, and the shoot was on.  For a shoot like this, here is what I pack:

-Nikon D300
-Nikon D200 (as backup)
-All of my lenses
-2 Nikon Sb-800 Flash Units
-LumiQuest FXtra gel packs and Softbox III's
-2 Quantum Turbo 2x2 battery packs (saves batteries and my $$)
-Laptop to back up cards with Lexar firewire 800 card reader
-2 AlienBee B1600 flash units
-1 Vagabond Battery Pack
-Light Stands for all flashes 
-Lots and Lots of memory cards
-lens cleaning cloth
-extra flash connector cords
-TTL off camera flash sync cord
-PocketWizards for all flashes

For most stock shoots, I bring far less since my car will most likely be nowhere near the site, but if you are located near your car, you might as well bring as much as you could want.  I carry everything in a few different backpacks to make things more mobile.

The athletes all worked very hard, and understood the need to do the same tricks again and again until all the stars aligned to create that perfect shot.  The trick to maximizing the amount of usable stock images from a shoot is to capture every moment.  Some of my greatest shots came from the moments when the athletes were sitting around doing almost nothing, just being themselves and having a good time.  I always tell my models to pretend as if I'm not there and to avoid looking at me too often.  Once they have that, I give loose guidelines as to where we are going, or what we will be doing, and let them act how they want.  I'm not a big fan of super posed shots, because I believe in capturing the natural vibe of the shoot.

For my flash shots, I used the alienbees with pocketwizards to maximize power output under harsh midday sun.  I captured the unique motion shots above, by stopping the light down to f/20 or 22, and capturing the shots with flash and a panning motion.  Definitely some unique looking images came from that method, almost completely surreal.  

With action shots, I usually start by letting the athletes go and hit the features of the park that they want to.  From there, I move to the location they are hitting, set up a flash or two if I need it, and shoot while they continue to session the feature.  You can't expect a good shot from an athlete hitting something that is not of interest to them, or that they are not comfortable with.  Allow them to explore on their own, watch for a few minutes, and I'm sure they will come up with something awesome!  Certain features will never lend themselves to a great photograph, so if an athlete is on a feature that really won't shoot well I choose not to waste my time by shooting it.  That's why you want several athletes.

We walked to lunch, to get water, and to find new locations.  This created a fun vibe, and let the athletes choose what they wanted to do.  The best shots of the day came from these moments including the chain hop, grass hill ride, and metal shingle stalls.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post, and look for more in the next two days.  Any advice to make this blog better is greatly appreciated and can be added in the comments section below any post.

Thank you Nikko, Josh, James, and Droid, you all brought a lot to this shoot and made it run smoothly!


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