Under pressure

BIKING-0067Ever notice how a little pressure sometimes brings out the best in us?

I’ve always kind of enjoyed being under the gun a little bit. Having some restrictions often forces me into creatively approaching the situation I’m facing.

Like dealing with impending darkness and rain.

For the September cover of 501 Life magazine, we had determined to follow a “wheels” theme, and I had envisioned doing some mountain biking photos at nearby Cadron Settlement Park. Local enthusiasts have done a lot of work to the parks’ trail system, and my friend Richie had wanted to do some shots at his favorite curve. I figured this would be our best chance.

However, there were some concerns about promoting a sport that some see as being dangerous. But, with a deadline looming, we decided to go forward with the shoot.

It didn’t give me a lot of time to set up the shoot. In fact, I wedged it in following a Friday evening assignment thinking I would still have a good bit of sunlight anyway.

We didn’t have much wiggle room in the scheduling, either. Richie and his wife were leaving for Florida early the next morning. We had to make it happen.

That was when the clouds started rolling in.

I wasn’t too worried about a few clouds. But, these were those dark clouds that drop light levels along with lightning and rain. Not the best combo for a shoot outdoors.

When I met Richie at the park, it was dark. Really, really dark. Like, I need a flashlight to navigate the trail.

Darkness meant I was forced to bump up my ISO and slow down my shutter speed. The gray skies made me think about shifting my color balance by setting the camera’s white balance to 3000K, and lighting Richie with a flash gelled with a full CTO.

For the uninitiated, I called an audible, set the camera for the setting used under incandescent lights and then used a flash to change the subject to a more natural rendition.

It was so dark, the camera’s autofocus system didn’t work. It couldn’t find anything to focus on. Fortunately, I’m old enough to remember when we had to focus our own lenses.

I like to try to get it right in the camera as much as possible. So, I decided to increase the camera’s sensitivity to counter the low light, but use a slow shutter speed to blur the trees when I followed the rider as he passed me.

I also changed a setting in the camera that recorded the color temperature of light differently, which gave me the blue skies. I also used a flash to stop his motion with an orange filter to make him look more realistic. Doing all of this meant I made the image without using any magic in Photoshop; I did it in the camera.

The rest was up to timing the shot, and Richie did several passes and only came close to hitting me once.

And, we didn’t see any snakes. Bonus.

In the end, we got the shot I wanted. I think it shows the action we were hoping for, and the colors shifted nicely to accomplish what I wanted.

Not bad for thinking on my feet.

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