When everything clicks…the making of a shot

In my experience I shoot my best photos when I’m not trying. In other words my personal favorite shots come when I’m out shooting for fun and there aren’t any expectations from the shoot. I’ve heard writers say similar things…their best work is when they aren’t trying or there is not a deadline.

This isn’t always the case for me as the photo above is one of my favorite mountain bike images. This image was very intentional and involved a bit of “luck”. The image was taken on a planned photo shoot day with the intention of getting some shots for a 2011 catalog. I had made arrangements to shoot two riders in an area not far from where we live. I had been to this area before and did have some shots in mind prior to heading out.

After parking the car and unloading all of our gear, we began to walk along a fire road and looked for spots to shoot (jumps, drops, etc). After walking for a bit I realized the ground we were on was getting softer….really soft. I stopped the group and let them in on my idea. We had taken along a small army shovel in case we found something that might need a bit of a modification. My idea here was to use the shovel to create a small and temporary berm in the place we were walking. In my mind I was picturing a shot where the riders would rip down the fire road and blast into my poorly carved berm…throwing up a nice amount of dirt towards the camera. I put down my photo gear and began to dig(someday I’ll be able to hire someone for this type of thing ;-)…and within a few minutes we had what I thought was an “ideal” set up for the shot. Now it was up to the riders to help paint the picture that was in my head.

It took the riders a few attempts to understand what I was looking for….but it wasn’t long before I knew we were getting close. To light the shot I used my two light kit by Boling and fired them via Pocket wizards. I had placed one light on the ground camera left and had my voice activated tripod (aka Jay) holding the 2nd light camera right. One light to fill the rider and bike and the other to hopefully catch/freeze the dirt in action. I mentioned a bit of luck earlier and that luck showed itself in getting the sun into this shot. I had set my exposure knowing I was shooting into the sun and using lights……and wish I could say I knew ahead of time that I’d get the sun and its flare into the frame of this shot, but I hadn’t. Seems I was too busy digging.

We attempted this set up about 10 times and according to my viewfinder we got the shot. It was once I got home that I realized the team effort and a bit of luck allowed me to get one of my favorite images…oh and it made the cut for the 2011 catalog. I’ll blog about that later.

Camera Settings: Canon 7D – 1/250th @ f/16
Lens: Tokina 12-24mm f/4
Lighting: Boling 2×300 watt strobes w/battery pack
Additional: 2 X Pocket wizard Plus IIs
1 Voice activated tripod (Jay)

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