My little guy got his Gold Belt in Karate the other day. He was super pumped! He’s a very serious and dedicated kid when it comes to pretty much everything, but especially Karate. I had the vision for this photo in my mind before I set out to capture it. Here’s the process involved.
Step 1: Lighting. There was still a good deal of ambient even though the sun was setting. I didn’t want to mess around with small flash so I grabbed my Alien Bee 1600 and fired it through a small Photoflex octobox. I had my lovely assistant Phoebe hold the light for me. We bolted it to the time-tested “Gandalf-Stick” – a collapsible paint pole with an adaptor end on it. Works like a charm for moving quickly. The lighting pattern was a simple cross light setup. Subject back to the sun as always for a sweet golden rim light.
Step 2: Work the posing. Just watch how two simple things drastically change the photo.
A) Nice photo but boring. We needed to convey Karate power in this image. Have me shoot down or even eye level doesn’t do that. We need to shoot up.
B) Getting there, now Ethan looks bigger and more powerful. In the photo. All we had to do drop to the ground. Also, I wanted a wide-ish angle shot so I’m using my Nikon 24mm f1.8G lens on the Nikon D800 for maximum mega-pretzels.
C) For the final image we needed the pose to actually have energy. I got Ethan to shout out the Karate attack word for “kill” as he did his kick. It got him laughing a bit which gave me a legit smile. The photo I had in my mind came to life and his posing was perfect. The wide angle lens adds to the over all feeling of power as it optically makes his foot look huge. The flash will always freeze the motion for you even at the relatively slow sync speed of 1/250 while adding a bit of motion blur which I think looks cool.
So there you have it. Great lighting combined with getting low and wide makes for a butt kickin’ shot that I will definitely be making into a giant print! 😎
I thought long and hard about getting a bigger lighting scrim. They are a super versatile tool from the strobist to the natural light shooter. They can block light, diffuse light, reflect light. In short, they rock the set. They are also ridiculously expensive to purchase commercially. I was searching for a DIY version and found Kevin Kubota’s to be about the best one out there. You can watch the informative YouTube vid here.
But I made some upgrades in the design. First of all, I found it was a lot cheaper to purchase the grey conduit rather than PVC for the main frame parts. They are the exact same size so you can still use all the same PVC fittings but the conduit is less money. Wee! 😎 Plus, it looks less distracting than white. And secondly, I found that the design for attaching the ripstop nylon to the frame was a bit lacking. If you only used it inside, it would be fine. But I do loads of outdoor work. So I needed a solution that would hold up to a Saskatchewan wind gust. I thought about it and concluded that the best way was to make basically a “fitted sheet.” I got some of the super awesome seamstress church ladies to sew me a 1 inch seam all the way around the outside edge of the material. Then I simply cut the corners off and fished the nylon elastic cord through it, tying it off to make it fit snuggly on the frame. It works like a charm! It goes together super quick and stays there, even in the wind.
You still have to be careful with it because it is basically a giant kite. But it works flawlessly and only costs a fraction of what the commercially available ones do. This is probably the only DIY thing I’ve ever made that I will continue to use on a long term basis because it’s a super slick design and it works fantastic! 😀
Check out these vids of Joe McNally using the same kind of product. The results are truly awesome!
I made a quick video on how you can make your own DIY Justin Clamps. As I have mentioned, Photography is a ripoff. Everything with a photography brand costs 17% more than it’s worth. So, anytime you can cheat and save a few bucks, why not do it? I got the idea for making the clamps from the strobist, and for only $5.00, you can make these things. (To get legit ones, they cost upwards of $50.00 US bones!) 🙂 There’s nothing to it! And, they are exceedingly useful and convenient. Now, you can put a flash almost anywhere. I’m thinking of real estate lighting or lighting up a rink/gym or wherever. These things are sweet! Check out the vid:
If you have any kind of Photography equipment, you’ve probably paid a small fortune for it. If you have a large assortment of lenses and cameras, you’ve probably sold organs on the black market to pay for it all. 😉 I don’t know why, but if an item has “photography” stamped on it, it’s an automatic 30-56% more money (just like education products). 🙂 Finding small ways of saving cash is a photographer’s secret weapon. I stumbled across a great blog called Larry’s Cheap Shots. He has many cool ideas for saving money and DIY photography projects that are guaranteed to save you a bundle! Check it out!
I discovered a way cool trick that helps out tremendously when shooting in Manual mode or even in Aperture mode. Basically it is using auto ISO to help you freeze action at a sports game or if you are shooting handheld in low-light conditions, it prevents the camera from dropping below a set shutter speed (AKA no more blurry images).
If you’re outside with lots of light, this doesn’t matter as much. But like I said, for inside/low light it’s the bomb. In the ISO sensitivity settings menu, you can control the maximum ISO you want, say 1600. And, you can control the minimum shutter speed you want too. So for sports with super fast action, lock this in at 1/1000 or if you’re shooting your 50mm prime on your DX body, lock it in at 1/100. That way you can adjust your aperture to whatever you want and the shutter speed never drops below your minimum amount. The camera automagically calculates the proper ISO to make your exposure work out.
What’s way cool is that the camera won’t just jump full stops of ISO (like 200 to 400) it will do crazy stuff like ISO 273 – a setting you couldn’t choose to do even if you wanted to!
It’s really cool because when you move to different shooting spots or the natural light levels change all around you, you’re still nailing your exposures every time. Slick hey?
Credit for this trick goes to Scott Kelby and his Digital Photography Book 3 p.146.