Friday, August 15, 2008

Adventure Sports Photography

Shooting adventure sports photography is certainly one of my favorite subjects to shoot as a photographer. I have produced and shot many adventure subjects for stock and also joined many outdoor adventures as the photographer. Three times down the Grand Canyon as well as rafting many other rivers in the west and creating large stock photo production shoots. Here we hired models and traveled to various locations around the west to shoot. The work has been published ion most major outdoor magazines and it also lead to some sweet assignments for companies like Columbia Sportswear, Nike, Camelbak, Early Winters, and so on.

I was pleased to be interviewed the other day on and about adventure sports photography. This is an interesting website that interviews pro photographers on a variety of photographic specialties. You can listen to the interview here.

The first image at the opening of the post chosen mountain biker flying through the air. This biker was a professional mountain biker and we hired him in shooting the Camelbak catalog. Here he is going off the ramp specially built for mountain bikers and it's here in Oregon.

I chose to do a blur streak affect with him using strobe. I have my assistant to my left by about 10 to 15 feet and he is holding one of my wireless flashes. This nails rider perfectly with the light. I also chose a shutter speed of about 1/15 of a second to get a nice streak behind him. The flash help freeze him in action.

This next shot of the cascading stream is very easy shot to get. You do not have to go very far sometimes to get great shots that look like they're in the middle of the wilderness. Although this is in the mountains of Oregon, this beautiful creek which had lots of wildflowers in other years is right next to an old rock quarry. It's not in the middle of the wilderness. I asked her to hold real still in shot at half a second to get the nice pouring water.

About six years ago I had an assignment to shoot a rafting company floating down the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon in Utah. In the evenings they would circle all the chairs in camp for some great chat time. Here, I am up on the rocks and I based my exposure on the foreground area where the gathering is taking place. This would have made the sky and the sunlit rocks blow out and become white. So I chose to use a Cokin tobacco graduated filter and it brought the sky down nicely. What I love about digital photography now is that I can create the same affect without the filter spilling into the shadowed areas of the rock and thus looking more believable. I guess I need to go rafting again so I can do just that.

I love to put flash in a tent at dusk. They took this shot last year while in Joshua Tree National Park in California. A lot of the time when I am out exploring for photographs or just walking around I'll find a spot that looks suitable for a tent shot like this and I will set it up and planted anything it's. It's very simply done. Just attach the flash to a wireless trigger and then test for the tent exposure and once you determine that bracket only your shutter speed for lighter or darker areas where there is no flash.

This kayaking photo was actually an assignment as well for an advertisement to run in magazines. Here I dislike it where the kayaker the foreground is running behind me and partly out of focus but he frames mom and the kids in the background quite nicely and it worked very well.

This shot of the guy on top of the mountain with his ice ax was a very good seller for me for many years. I shot it in the very early 80s and it sold very well throughout the 1980s. The problem now is nobody goes climbing in Levi jeans and plaid shirts. But it was framed and composed nicely and was on the cover of many publications.

Here's a shot that is also extremely simple and has been published numerous times. We are scrambling on the rocks in an area called the buttermilk's in the Eastern Sierra of California. The sun is now setting behind the mountains and turned the foreground where we were into shadow but the light is still hitting the desert mountains across the Valley. So it makes a perfect silhouette location. And she is placed in one of those compositional hotspots that we learned back in photo 101.

Anyway, adventure sports is really fun whether you are participating in this activity or observing it and photographing it while it happens. Keep Reading: Full Post and Comments!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Shooting the Oregon Coast

Geeezz, I am slammed and finding the time to post has been tough this month. But as most commercial photographers know, it will slow down at some point. It always does. I just wrapped up my Oregon Coast Digital Workshop and what a blast! I very well had the best group ever. They were enthusiastic and eager to learn and do lots of shooting.

We had fabulous weather: mostly sun and one afternoon of rain and that is it. That is great for the Oregon Coast by the way. We also had two foggy mornings at the Charleston boat harbor which makes perfect conditions for shooting. As I always do in these Art of Digital workshops, we cover photo 101, masking, ACR, optimization, and for fun, some HDR. The boat harbors are great for that technique.

The opening image is the boat harbor and it is the Photomerge collage technique mentioned in a previous post. I then HDR'd it using a program that one student introduced me to. It is ReDynamix by Media Chance and is a Photoshop plugin. Most of these images were created using ReDynamix and its HDR effect, which should really be called the Grunge look using HDR techniques.

You can hardly go wrong with the price, they only want $16 for the plugin. The biggest problem is it only works on 8 bit images and that is a big minus. I played long and hard with it and my opinion is mixed. While is does give a good Grunge look and easily, about the time you start getting that look the noise jumps in. And continuing to push harder gives even more noise to the point of being unusable. I have tried variations of Noise Ninja to attempt to control it and will continue to experiment more.

This image from Bandon where we shot the sunset, uses a favorite technique I like. The idea here is to stop all the way down for the longest exposure and then the waves blur. I generally like to do this 30 minutes to more than hour after sunset. I like the shutter to be open for 30 seconds to allow the water to blur a lot. Here I am at 1/8th second at f22. I open the image in ACR and optimized the image, then made another dodge burn layer and lightened the edges of the waves that essentially are white in the sunlight.

I was very attracted to this float on the bow of this boat and pointed it to my students. Here I used ReDynamix pushing the sliders for 'the look'.

One problem with HDR techniques is the noise that is created in the sky when you start pushing the technique. In this image using ReDyanamix, the sky very quickly goes noisy. One solution I use, although not with this image, is to mask in a separate sky. So I shoot a separate sky and then blend them in layers and each image is processed differently in the software to reduce the noise.

I'm thinking this is an old winch off a fishing trawler and has been sitting here a long time. It is totally rusted out. I found this at the back of someones back yard while scouting for the workshop and stopped and had to shoot it. I used Photomatix for the grunge look, had to do some burning and dodging and sharpening for the final look.

I had not seen this turquoise and blue fishing net before and this big pile made for a great and colorful shot.

This lighthouse was shot with a 15 mm fisheye and I also used the HDR look for it. It got noisy quick so I had to back off. I then added the optimized RAW file and stacked it on top and painted back in some of the lighthouse to look normal. Then used Transform> Skew and some Liquify to straighten the lighthouse which suffered from the fisheye look.

I loved the back of this boat and pointed it to my students as well. A rusting, rotting hulk of a fishing trawler with moss and grass growing on the wooden deck. How could the owner let it literally rot away? It made a great subject!

So it was a great week at the coast with some great people and some fun images to play with on the computer. But now, I am off to a month of great assignments. Stay tuned!

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