the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

June 5, 2010

Burn, baby burn: dark and moody on a sunny day.

Filed under: bike, photography — danmilner @ 6:07 pm

So when a client sent me 3 bikes to shoot out here in my natural Alpine studio this month and my window for getting the job done coincided with a huge high pressure, I thought “no problem”.

Canon EOS 5, Nikon 14-24G, 2x Lumedyne strobes.

Ha! Think again.

Normally of course sunshine and clear blues skies are the bike photographer’s dream –perfect for capturing that aspirations of epic, sun-soaked rides- but “normally” wasn’t in the clients brief. Instead they wanted heavy skies and an injection of dark soulfulness, delivered via a very large mood needle. Hmmm. With the riders lined up for the two day stint and not a lot of leeway to play with in terms of deadlines for catalogue and marketing needs, it was time to get creative. Now if you’re familiar with my home style, you’ll by now be used to the dark and somewhat sinister look to some of my images –actually perfect for the kind of look the client was after. “Kind of nice,” I thought, to have a brief that demanded something different, something a little heavier, and err… moody, especially when the bike frames are very photogenic polished Titanium. The only fly in the mood ointment was the largely clear blue and cloudless sky above; Bring forth the Lumedynes.

OK, so flash is great for filling in detail to shadow on product driven shoots, but it’s also a brilliant tool for creating atmosphere. Essentially, if you get it right it lets you control the lighting and hence the feel. Hence my Lumedyne portable studio set up sitting in the back of my car next to a bag of cameras and lenses. Packing a decent if modest 2x400W/s power these luggable flashes might not be the kind of thing you haul on a ride but drop in the “drive-to-location” factor (if an hour climbing a 4×4 track in my little Renault is “drive to”) and you’ve got portable lighting to rival the sun. Well, almost, but you get the idea. So they’re not the fastest firing lights in the world (so you gotta watch out for the speed blur) at least compared to my portable 2x Canon Speedlight set up, but they pack a certain punch.

So I hit a couple of locations I know that offer a good harsh, sinister feel, whopped a ton of fill flash in to make the subject stand out from the darkened (underexposed) backgrounds, and processed the RAW files in a contrasty way and ….. well, you see for yourselves.


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