It’s been a while since I’ve done a Behind the Photo post, but after a little encouragement from some Instagram followers, I decided to put together another one for you guys.
The photo I’m sharing today shows Scotty Cranmer doing a turndown off a wooden launch, over a gap, and onto a dirt landing near his hometown in New Jersey. We shot this this in May when I was there on a day-rate assignment shooting with him for Hyper Bicycles. This image was actually the second frame of the day—the first being a lighting test to make sure my flashes were firing.
To set up the shot I put my main flash on a tall light stand just over my left shoulder as I was crouching down with my 15mm fish eye lens. This was right at 180 degrees from where the sun was coming in from the trees and served as the only flash lighting up Scotty and his bike. The ambient light behind him gave a pretty good key light on his helmet, shoulder, and arm. I would have liked to have another key light hitting the back side of his rear tire, but I only had three flashes with me, and the other two were used to light up the under side of the take off. With that said, I set up my two fill flashes low to the ground just out of the right side of the frame pointing up at the under side of the wooden launch. Without them lighting up the take off it was very dark and shadowy with little to no detail in the wood. Since the take off was so unique in this setup it was important to me to show where he was coming from in the best way possible.
These trails are located behind John Jennings’ parents house, and on the day we were scheduled to shoot Scotty couldn’t get in touch with any of the locals to unchain the roll in, so he had to find a very creative (for lack of better words) way to get the speed for the gap. Being the boss that he is, Scotty not only got the speed, but fully clicked a turndown on his first and only go at it. One and done, in and out…off to the next spot!
Date: May 10, 2013
Location: Area 51 Trails, New Jersey
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 15mm
Main Flash: Quantum Q Flash with Turbo 400 w/s battery pack (set to roughly 1/4 power)
Fill Flashes: Vivitar 285 (set to full power)
Transmitter: Pocket Wizard MiniTT1
Receivers: Pocket Wizard Receivers
I processed the photo using Photoshop CS5.1 with the most up to date Camera Raw plugin. Since I like most of my photos to look very natural, I didn’t do very much with this image in post-production.
I started out in the Raw editing window by applying my personal “stock settings”. These are settings I have calibrated to my particular version of Photoshop to my camera and reflect how I like my photos to look. These settings always seem to be a good starting point for post-production on my images when I’ve shot them at a proper exposure. By clicking one button the Sharpness amount moves up to 125 and the Masking and Noise Reduction to 50. It also moves the Contrast slider to 55, the Clarity to 15, and the Saturation to 10.
After my stock settings were applied, I clicked the radio button to remove the chromatic aberrations. This got rid of slight bands of digital color noise that were at the edges of highlight details like Scotty’s helmet and handlebars. From there I pushed the Recovery slider to 45 to get back some detail in the overexposed sky and moved the Brightness slider down just a few notches to 47 for the same reason. However, after doing this certain dark parts of the image like Scotty’s shirt were too dark, so I added a little Fill Light to bring back some of those details. The final adjustment I made was to bring the White Balance Temperature down to 4800 to get rid of the slight orange tint in the dirt and trees.
Here you can see the slight differences in the unprocessed photo along with the final edited image.
(Unprocessed image above; edited image below. Click to enlarge.)
Check out this behind the scenes video of what Scotty had to do to make this trick happen!