I got a great opportunity to go photograph rising star of the Water sports world Jack Moule, I get the opertunity to work with a lot of people but Jack was an great character to get to meet and work with and an amazingly talented athlete, its great getting to work with people like Jack as it makes the whole creative process so much more fun
Photography is a great subject you don’t need great gear or cutting edge technology you just need to be able to think outside the box and be able to be creative. However that said sometimes there are situations that you just could shoot with out really great gear.
This is one of those situations two bits of kit meant that it made the shoot possible.
- The elinchrom Ranger RX with the speed heads giving us a flash duration of somewhere in the region of 1/5120 of a second which really helped to freeze the water while pumping out me boat loads of light (excuse the pun) to help combat the setting sun.
- The pocketwizards controlTL, the Flex and mini range from pocketwizard are pretty unique their main feature allow you to shoot with ettl but over a range only possible with radio, which is pretty cool (if ettl is your thing, I’m not a great fan which is why when I have the time I like to shoot manually) along with this they also give you a host of other features, including Hypersync which is basically like the HSS on your speed lights where you can shoot over the normal 1/250th of a second, straight out of the box they let me shoot upto 1/1600th of a second with full flash coverage, after tweaking a couple of settings I managed to stretch it out to 1/2000th of a second, 1/2500 if I didn’t mind (which I didn’t) loosing half a inch off the bottom of the frame.
What did this high shutter speed allow me to do, well it didn’t allow me to freeze the action the lights are doing that and thats why I wanted the really short duration flashes. What it does allow me to do is beat the ambient light into submission, this is pretty key to the whole image, although it would of been easier and required less gear to shoot at night when its nice and dark it brings up to many issues mainly to do with the safety of Jack not to mention its going to be a headache trying to focus on anything.
Top tip when shooting with the flexttl’s don’t buy the really expensive flash cables especially if your only hiring pick up a load of the minijack to PC adapters named MPCF then just use the cables that come with the lights so much cheeper and if you get really stuck you can use the long cable to help improve radio reception (not that I’ve ever had any issues but its always a handy option).
The one gripe and LPA designs if your reading this please give me a solution is that when I’m not using the hot shoe or a threaded stand I have no way to secure my pocketwizards apart from gaffa tape, which is less then ideal the PWII’s I could throw a lanyard through but I’ve not found a way to do that yet with the newer models.
The ambient light when we started was about f3.5 at 1/320, cranked the Shutter speed up to 1/2000th of a second and then I adjusted the F-Stop to control the flash power, F4 was giving me a nice exposure.
It was then just a case of trial and error to get everything working together at the same time, and there was a lot of error!
This sort of shoot your always working to a pretty tight schedule and the pressure is always on, not only do you have till it gets dark which thankfully is a couple of hours this time of year but your also very aware that the athlete at some point is going to hit fatigue and you need something in the bag before that starts to become a issue.
100 frames later the Lights where about out of juice, the sun had about set, Jack was exhausted and my legs were wrinkling up nicely.