Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Moves You!

Ride On!

Have fun with your projects even if they don't turn out completely like you wanted. That's what I figured out while trying to complete the Strobist Boot Camp II, Assignment 4.

The assignment this time around was What Moves You literally. The subject matter was transportation and could be any form. Since I didn't have access to a speeder bike (my first choice), I found a friend with a really nice bike who volunteered to model for me.

I thought about the shot for several days in advance and had it planned down to the angle I wanted to shoot it from, how I wanted to light it, the background and the contrast of color.

So my friend met me and my significant other (my full time VAL and artistic consultant) at a nice open parking lot. When I first arrived, I misjudged where the sun would be setting and right off had to reposition how I wanted to shoot. No biggie. Then I set up my lights and had my buddy make slow circles around me on his bike as I tried panning shots of him as he drove thru my lighting setup.

The color was pretty drab outside so I switched my camera to Tungsten white balance which gave the background a nice blue hue. Then, I underexposed the ambient ever so slightly to give me a richer color. For my key light, I added a full cut of CTO to bring the light back to a normal looking white, then added another 1/2 cut to add just a slight bit of warmth. For my fill light, I decided to leave it un-gelled for a little contrast and had this light 1 stop lower than my key light.
my key light accidentally didn't go off in this shot, but I thought it was pretty cool!

Immediately I figured out the cross lighting pattern I originally setup was garbage. At least it wasn't having the effect I thought it would, so rather than torment myself over it, I analyzed the shots I had so far and felt a different light placement would look better so I just moved my fill light to camera left. My key light was camera right and popped another test shot. This looked much better!

I was dragging my shutter to create a little motion blur, and to get the angle I wanted, I was lying on the ground. This made it rather hard for me to determine when was the right time to pop the shutter since I couldn't see when my subject was in the target zone of my lighting. So Jenn, my VAL and best gal, stood behind me to let me know when the bike was in my target zone.

Ok, now I'm getting some shots. I was a little frustrated in using continuous focus on my D300 because it seemed I never got the sharp point I was looking for be honest, this technique has eluded me for quite some time. I thought this would be the best way to focus on a moving subject. Maybe it is... but it wasn't for me. I switched to single point focusing and actually had no problems keeping my subject in focus.

So after all of the frustration and changes I had to make to what I thought was a very well thought out plan, I still ended up with some shots I liked, tried a few different things and my VAL even got to go for a ride.

Long story short, don't be disgruntled if what you had planned turns to mush. Just go with the flow and keep shooting, something good is bound to happen. This was a learning experience for me and a fun project, even if I didn't get the photos that I had etched in my mind before the shoot.

On a side note, if anyone has any pointers on using continuous focus on the D300, please give a shout out in the comments ...I needs me an ed-u-muh-cation!

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