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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist.com publisher David Hobby demonstrates using strobes to freeze action while capturing the strength and grace of a dancer in motion. After working through the lighting challenges of a dance studio, David sets up a white, seamless background and shoots some test shots, adjusting the flash units to create a white "blow-away" background that will enable the photo to be easily composited. Next, he photographs the dancer, working with her to capture a relaxed expression as she leaps and strikes various poses. After the action shots, David lights and shoots a portrait.
So we're here with Stephanie Yezek, who is one of the finalists in the current year's Rising Stars Program that I was talking about earlier, and I saw her perform, and it was absolutely amazing, frankly, just like every one of the Rising Stars was. And we did a session couple of weeks ago, three weeks, maybe a month ago, something like that, where we were shooting against sunset with her doing leaps and such, and I wanted to come in and do this against white, so we can completely take out the background if we want. So her job will be to just do amazing leaps and suspend gravity and hang in the middle of the air like Michael Jordan, and my job will be to do this.
So that's the division of labor as they exist here. And we've got a mark for you right here. That tripod is going to move, I would think, or it's going to be a really interesting first sequence, as you come running through. We can move this mark a little bit if we need to, depending on what your line is going to be, but I want to make sure you've got a really door to exit out of going that way, without having to hit anything. Stephanie Yezek: Everything happens there. This is where the magic happens, right. So whether you're static and going up--and if we need to move this around, the main thing is consistency, so we can tweak the lights and have it look good right in there.
So we're setting up a three-dimensional space of cool light, like right in here. Think of it like an orb that's got maybe a 4-5 foot diameter. We're also, that's another plane. That paper is being lit separately. But if we can-- I noticed who were really, really good at hitting your mark as you came across, which is like gazillion years of practice. And so the more consistency we can nail down in the lighting for each pose, and the more of the problems we can work out before the fact, the more granular we can be, which is trying for that one little extra thing, whether it's body position for you or timing for me, or expression, I like you've got the thing nailed, now just like relax and enjoy the moment when you're doing it. Big, big.
And I don't know if we talked about this on camera or not earlier, but big difference in an amazing technical thing happening, with your face being all concentrated, you're making--it's work. You're doing work at that point, whereas if you just let it go and you just, it's almost like you don't even the viewer's there. And it just literally that thousandth of a second is the only thing that is going to be recorded, so that'll be your hardest thing, I think after we nail everything down, is to just like let go and enjoy it. Cool! So show me what you're thinking about doing. So let's plan to do something doing across, something static, and then we'll pull paper out, and do something that'll be, yeah, more of a grounded straight portrait.
We have got plenty of that on that paper. You know, it's actually not going to be easy. We can bring it down. Okay, we have two people. We can bring it down and walk it out at the same time, no problem. Stephanie Yezek: Do you mind leave my pants on for now? David: Yeah, yeah sure, me too, I'm going to. David: I'm just going to leave my pants on for now. Now, if we need to move that a couple of feet in either direction-- Stephanie: Well, I guess my question is, can I be, can I be this way? I don't have to do that? David: Yes, exactly. So the main thing I would worry about, like not being higher than this when you come down and get here.
We can move this up a little bit and rotate it down. So I would almost say you want to be just starting to come down as you cross this mark, because your form will still be there and then we're going to have any errors going to be working to lift. And before if I forget I want to take that fan and move it around. Of course we don't have a plug on the other side, but I have got an extension cord that's reasonable, so we'll probably have a fan right here, behind the stand, pushing up to you to accentuate whatever, whatever wind you're creating as you go.
Okay, so yeah, let me just watch you a little bit and see what you're doing, and think pace yourself too, because--I mean okay. So my first problem I see is you're like, you're so horizontal. You're definitely sticking out from behind the white. I can deal with that. I can totally deal with that, but it might be that we want to move this on the diagonal a little bit.
Okay yeah, let's see. That's better. That's definitely better. You know you're still going to be sticking out behind the white a little bit. This is a full-width white seamless, but since we're on white, I can, after the fact, I can go in and extend that canvas and do like a literally a pixel-by-pixel cutout around your feet. So that's not, that's not going to be too much of a problem, yeah. If that window is behind your hand as you are coming down, that could be a problem, but I don't think we're anywhere near that.
But we might want to think about less horizontally expansive poses as you're coming out. And work a different track if we need to work a different--yeah that could work. So the further back I get--I'm going to go ahead and assume that I'm going to be shooting from back here. Try that now. That already is better. So moving back here forces me to shoot with a telephoto lens, which compresses everything, which makes that background optically bigger.
So I can hide you inside the background easier that way. I'm wondering if maybe we need to move this track back just a little bit. I'm going to move this mark just a tad, maybe a couple of feet. Does that make more sense for you as a mark? Okay, right, yeah the last thing I want is to have you mess up one of these lights stands you know. Blood is hard to get off of him.
All right, let's see what you're thinking. Yes, yes, yes. You're completely contained in there. In fact, as you're coming across, I want to take that mark and move it that way a little bit, because the picture is going to happen when you're coming past the mark a little bit, like towards you, just a bit. Okay, just one centimeter, adjust to that please if you could. Okay, all righty. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. So you need to decide whether you're going to be looking at me, which is--it's got advantages and disadvantages, because I'm every person that looks at this picture, so you're not looking at the camera.
You're making eye contact with the person looking at your website, or looking at a dance poster or something. This could literally be the only element in a dance poster, and you'd have all that white to do whatever you wanted, so would you be looking at me? I think maybe not. We can try some both ways, but that's one more variable to get almost right and if everything else is perfect and you're looking like almost at me, because your eyes didn't quite focus in on time, then it's like, other than that this is Lincoln, how was the play.
Okay, so let your face flow where it's naturally going to flow, and then if we have to tweak it, we will tweak it, okay? Yeah, yeah, I like that. You were kind of back up here.
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