Mike The Cyclist – Class Project
This past Saturday the 28th I did a morning shoot with my friend Mike up on Prospect Hill, a park down the road from where I live in Waltham. I had never been to this place before, but since it was so close I figured why not give it a try? If it didn’t work out, we could always head over to The Fells. Anyway, this shoot was for a class project, my Location Portrait Photography II class to be specific. We have been tasked with coming up with one stellar photo to use as the final image we will submit this coming Wednesday at the final class.
I had been struggling to decide what I wanted to do for my shoot, since we could do literally anything as long as it wasn’t in the studio, I was having a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to do. I suppose we have reached that point in our program though, when we need to start being more independent with our ideas and shoots, and I think it’s great. In class last week I was discussing my lack of ideas with my teacher and biking somehow came up, then Mike came to mind since I know how much he loves to bike around the city, I knew I wanted to do a shoot with him! I didn’t know if he’d be in, but I had a feeling he would be. And he was! He was very excited, actually, and I am so happy with how our shoot went! His wife, Anna (my coworker!), came along and I’m glad she did, she was a huge help that day, helping me out with the lighting setups I was using, I really appreciated the extra set of hands.
So I narrowed it down to four of my favorite images from the shoot. I used my new Sigma 70-200 2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM Telephoto Lens (which I recently reviewed) for the entire shoot, I really wanted to get some more use with this lens, and I’m so glad I used it! It definitely gave me the look I was going for. I had to use additional light in every photo (that was a requirement for the class) and I did my best to use the light, but not make it look like there was additional lighting… until the last photo. So let me know what you think, which one of these images should I use for my final photo? I personally like the first and fourth images the best…
I like this one because the sun was still bright and the filtered light up the trail looks great, the speedlite I used on him (using a shoot through umbrella) looks soft and even but there’s no indication of the speedlite anywhere else, just on him. I believe the speedlite was on 1/4 or 1/2 power for this shot.
This one is nice in a completely different way than the one above. The sun went behind some clouds so the light was very diffused on the trail. I used the same shoot through umbrella with the speedlite on 1/4 power (I believe), but I didn’t get much light wrapping around his face since he was significantly further away from the light source, so it’s more of a split light on his face. There is also a good bit of motion from hopping over the rock, except his face is still rather sharp considering his speed and upward motion, I’m very happy with how this photo came out.
This was a cool location we found! It was a pretty steep grade, but this space he is riding on is a land-bridge of sorts, it was built up with stones along the sides to lessen the grade to make it easier to go up and down, I thought using this bridge would be interesting visually along with framing Mike between the trees (in the background) would work well, and I think it did! The light is a little bit more noticeable in this one because it had become significantly darker out. I could have increased the ISO even higher but I was trying to stay away from doing that. Same shoot through around 1/2 power here. About 2 minutes after this photo, maybe not even, it started to POUR! Fortunately we weren’t too far from the car!
This is probably my favorite, and I almost didn’t get this shot. If it hadn’t stopped raining, I wouldn’t have been able to take this. There was a little grassy field on the hill by the car so I asked Mike to just stand there, I had taken plenty of him riding. I wanted to get a more traditional sort of portrait, but I really wanted to emphasize Mike and knock out the background, even though the background isn’t too distracting. It got crazy bright after the quick rain storm blew through so I used the High Speed Sync feature on my 580EX II Speedlite for this shot. I borrowed a 2nd one from school to do this shoot, I knew in advance I wanted to do this! And since my wireless triggers can’t exceed the camera sync speed, I had to use a 580EX II to trigger the other speedlite. I wanted to make the background nice and dark, so I started with a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec, and that was plenty dark but with the speedlite at full power, Mike just wasn’t bright enough. To make a little compromise, I went down to 1/1250 sec and kept the speedlite at full power and Mike was bright enough and the background was dark enough for me to work with. I did an exposure adjustment layer in photoshop and darkened up the background a bit, just to make Mike more pronounced, and I brightened him just a bit. I am thrilled with how this photo came out! I realize I probably could have opened up the aperture a bit more, but I wanted to make sure he was tack sharp for this photo, and he is. I’m also very happy with how I was able to balance the speedlite with the sun lighting him from behind, notice the light on his back and top of his helmet, that’s from the sun not the speedlite. Yes, that was intentional! The speedlite was bare for this photo, no umbrella for this. What do you think!?
So what do you think? I’m thinking the last photo…
Update: I chose the last photo and received a lot of positive feedback about it. Surprisingly I got quite a bit of support for the second image, I honestly didn’t feel that it was quite as strong, but many others did. Thank you all for your feedback!