Austin Photographer Patrick Meredith

9th Street Trails

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Couple of photos from 9th street this afternoon….

In all of these photos I used 3 Nikon SB speedlights to light up the riders. A Nikon D300 and a Nikon 80-200mm AFS lens were used in the first two photos…The lighting diagram is pretty simple and very straightforward.
Take the photo below, for example. It was shot as the sun was just starting to cool off around 6:30p.m. Light at 9th Street can be pretty tricky. The canopy provides nice shade, but giant spots are open leaving the sun to shine straight through. Using no flash provides a very dull and boring picture in this kind of light, not to mention that the ugly road in the background becomes even more pronounced when you just meter the ambient light in and shoot that way…
My camera maxes out with a sync speed of 1/250th so I set my shutter for 1/250th and my ISO @ 200. I let my Fstop float (more on that in a second)
Now that you know that I’ve used 3 speedlights, lets do a little reverse engineering.
The tree leaves and the landing on the left side of the frame instantly tell you where one of the lights is sitting. Another clue is to look at the rider (click for a bigger view) and you can see that another light is lighting up his jeans on his left leg and the back tire, so that tells you where the other light might be. The third flash, which is set to a very low power, is pointed at a space just above the landing to make it pop out a little bit from the next jump (in the foreground).

So with this photo I had one flash directly to the left of the frame (@ 1/4th) and one directly to the right (@ 1/4th +7) and slightly behind the rider and one flash in front of the landing (in the foreground @ 1/8th) illuminating the jump.

I had the exact same lighting scheme for the photo below, but you might not guess that. I didn’t change a single flash angle or power. The difference between the two photos is big, but very easy to do. When I first started out using strobes I went about and changed the power of each one to achieve a different look. D’oh!

The difference from the shot above and the very first shot is pretty simple. A turn of the aperture dial opens up a lot of light to hit the film. For the first shot, I was shooting at ISO 200 and roughly F5.6. For the second (and brighter) shot, I was shooting ISO 200 and roughly F3.3. The difference a couple of stops makes is pretty huge. I personally like to let my strobes do the talking and go with example #1.
For the photo below, I got as humanly close as possible with a Nikon 10.5mm mounted on the D300 and stood on the landing and waiting for Steven to hit the jump.
Three flashes and some powerful sunlight gave me what I needed for this shot.
Since I was using a fisheye, I had to be careful not to include any of my lights in my shot, which is sometimes hard to do.
You can see the key light is on the right side of the photo from the spillage onto the top of the chilli bowl…but what you can’t see are the two flashes almost directly in front of the landing pointing up at the rider at 1/2 power.
I had to use a lot of power to overcome the harsh shadows formed under his hat / everywhere from the sun that was shining directly down onto us.

These photos aren’t ones that I would send out for publication, but I thought I would take the time to explain what went into them from the *gasp* two emails I got asking me how to take them.


Written by patrickmeredith

September 9, 2008 at 2:01 am

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