I was commissioned to shoot some images to promote JP's StreetFunk, a Brighton based dance company. I'd known JP for a while, having worked with him before. He's a breakdancer, who also featured on the BBC's Strictly Dance Fever programme in 2006. Even during the first phonecall from JP, I knew what I wanted to do with him. He told me he wanted some edgy shots to help promote his business in the local area. I told him I was going to get him "jumping over Brighton Pier". He didn't believe me, but was up for giving it a go!
A few weeks later I was down in Brighton on the seafront with JP. It was only the two of us. No assistants, and minimal equipment as I needed to be able to carry it. The sun was high in the sky, so I knew I wanted to add some more light to give the look I had in mind. I set up two speedlites on stands, and used the sun as a third light source. Here's one of the test shots...
So with the lighting and exposure sorted, all that remained was to get him to jump. JP's one of those people who seems to be able to get insane amounts of height when he's flying through the air. I still knew I wanted to get low down in order to accentuate the height and create the illusion of him jumping over the pier.
It took about 9 attempts to get the shot. We had to adjust the style of jump from the one we'd originally planned, and out of those 9 shots, 5 were completely out of focus, but then we were only after 1 shot! It's important to know the shot you're trying to create, because it helps you to know when you've captured it, which in turn stops you from shooting aimlessly and filling up memory cards for no reason.
Here's a breakdown of the equipment, settings and a lighting diagram...
Date & Time : 18/09/08 13:09 Location : Brighton
Camera : Canon EOS 400D Lens : Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L ISO : 100 Shutter Speed : 1/250sec Aperture : f/16 Focal Length : 24mm
Lighting : Canon Speedlites Triggering : Pocket Wizard Plus II's
Because he was going to be moving, I wanted to make sure I had enough depth of field to be able to get a sharp image. f/16 on a 24mm focal length gave me a nice margin of error. You'll also notice that I wasn't using an amazing fandango super camera. Most of my early work was shot on a 400D. It's what I had, it worked, and as I mentioned before... it's not the camera that takes the photo!
The speedlites were positioned left and right and fired using Pocket Wizard Plus II's. I use Pocket Wizards for 2 reasons... I don't like tripping over cables, and they work! I've used other triggering devices and they just don't cut it for me.
A lot of people have asked me about whether the stones flying up into the air were added in in post production. Here's a side by side of the imported raw file, the raw file with basic colour and tonal adjustments, and the finished image...
As you can see, there's not much difference between the raw file and the finished image, other than cropping and some local contrast and tonal adjustments. I'm a big advocate of getting things right in camera. I don't like "photoshop effects". All the adjustments were done in Adobe Lightroom. I knew I wanted to create a high contrast "desaturated" image with a fairly moody feel to it.
So there you have it. If I've missed anything out, or you want to know anymore about this image, leave a comment below. If there are any other images you'd like to know more about, email firstname.lastname@example.org.