Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Risk vs. Reward

The cover of the new Dig BMX Magazine is the best BMX magazine cover I've seen in a while. Possibly ever. The photo is technically amazing; it's lit well with a careful, thought out composition. Ben Hucke, the rider on the cover, is a fresh face that's never been seen on a cover. Oh, and he's doing a can-can handplant on a tyrannosaurus.

What's even more impressive is the process that went into shooting this photo. Jared wrote up an article describing the time and effort it took on his blog that's definitely worth a read. Bookmark Jared's blog while you're at it; there's plenty of good content there on a regular basis.

If you've shot photos like this before, then you understand the dangers involved. If it's not a routine trick(and the best photos usually aren't), then there is a risk for both the rider and the photographer. The rider is trying something dangerous over and over again(over 350 times in the case of the Souney/Hucke cover!) and you're shooting photo after photo trying to perfectly capture a trick that most likely will never be done again. The rider doesn't want to risk getting hurt without walking away with the accomplishment of both the trick and the photo to prove it. If you, as the photographer, lose sight of your vision after the 50th try then the final photo will show it. You need to shoot the 63rd photo with the same anticipation, attention to detail and enthusiasm that you had when you shot the 2nd photo.

Every person that's held a camera has blown a photo. Every BMX/skate/action sports photographer has shot a photo of a rider and screwed up the timing or framing. I can't tell you how many times I've been laying on the ground after shooting a dozen photos and then when the rider sticks what he was trying, I look down to see that my composition is way off. There are few feelings worse than having an incredibly excited rider come up to you after pulling a difficult or dangerous trick and having to show him the photo you just botched. Instant deflation. We can't all fire out perfect photos every time, but if you don't lose sight of your vision you had when you set up your first light then you can drastically reduce the percentage of disappointing encounters that you have with the riders that you photograph.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bicycle Motocross

It's pretty obvious that I've failed miserably at regularly updating this blog so from here on out I'm going to change that. I may just be doing it to unload the endless flow of photo geek thoughts and terminology in my head, but hopefully someone else can come away with something from what I post here and a dialogue can happen as a result. Whether it's a couple of quick shots or a lengthy diatribe, my goal is to post at least once a week. So without further ado...

All of the Northeast snow has melted and in its place is beautiful weather that makes you want to be outside and smile. Being outside more means I've been shooting a lot of BMX lately. Here's a few recent photos and a description of the lighting and setup.

The shot above was taken in Trenton, NJ. If you've ever been fortunate enough to visit Trenton, then you understand the blossoming city that it is. And by "blossoming" I mean frightening in broad daylight. We parked close to the first spot that we planned on shooting at - a courtyard in the middle of a housing project. The little kids playing drug lookout outside of apartment doors were pretty obvious. This spot is a BMX/skate mecca and is basically an accidentally-made skatepark. When we turned the corner to enter, we rolled up to 6 guys smoking blunts, drinking 40s and playing cee-lo. Understanding that a lot of bike riders come to the spot, they told us to "come in and pull out the cameras". I had a 50lb bag full of about $8k in gear on my back so we decided to try someplace else first...