Block Start

Today we’re going to take a closer look at Ashton’s Block Start photo. It’s definitely my favorite of the series. As, I was running through the post processing I was a little unsure of what to do because I wasn’t able to shoot and backgrounds while I was down in Eugene for the day. So, I started playing around and got the crazy idea to change everything purple to match his uniform. I sent Ash a screen capture and he liked it so I ended up posting it (I was really considering not publishing the image until I was able to find a background). But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself… Let’s look at the images and break it down.

Camera Settings: Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, 24mm, f/8.0, ISO 200

The lighting setup here was the usual three light setup. two medium softboxes to the left and right (of camera) or front and behind (of Ashton). In hindsight, I would have like to bring the lights in a lot (possibly even in frame) to give a better rim light effect. But, I’m not sure if that was possible with the light in front of Ashton because there was a giant tire against the wall and I also didn’t want to position the light in front of him to the point where he couldn’t avoid it. The third light is a beauty dish and if I would have planned better I would have brought my strip light instead (I left it in Portland).

The issue that I have using a beauty dish here is the fact that he’s stretched out and there’s a pretty far distance from where the beauty dish is aimed (his head) to his foot. I think a strip would have looked a lot better because you can see that his back leg is a little underexposed but I’m just getting picky.

I set the camera up on my tripod and left it unextended (so the camera was probably 2-feet off the ground). Besides the obvious advantage of a tripod making images just a little bit sharper, I also didn’t want to have to anticipate his start through the viewfinder. I stood up and watched his back foot and waited for it to move. This definitely took a couple attempts (and it took a couple of attempts for me to realize that I just needed to watch his back foot) but once we knew that’s how we’d get him perfectly extended it only took like 5 shots.

We had the camera tethered to my MacBook Pro and this made it super easy for all of us to see exactly what we needed him to do in terms of his form but also when I needed to capture the image. When you are shooting actions like this with an athlete you need to be mindful of how the body is moving. Why did I shoot him starting on the left and going to the right instead of starting from the right and going to the left? Shooting this way, I can see his face and his body is almost opening up towards me. If I shot him going the other way, his face gets covered and you’d lose some of the right leg. Positioning is key.

Then, it’s onto the post processing. At the beginning of the post, I mentioned that the biggest challenge for this photo was knowing what to do with it. I knew we had a killer image but we didn’t have a background to use and I didn’t have anything shot that would work for the photo. So, I put together a solid background and started playing with colors. Since his uniform is green a purple, I decided to play around with those two and see what would happen. Note to self: NEVER try to change a track to look green. That was a big mistake and I quickly went with purple and was happy with how it looked. Then I threw on a nice white highlight over the top of the purple and that was just about it.

I have something different planned for tomorrow and the I’ll do the write up for the final photo of the Ashton Eaton series later on in the week. Also, I’ve been working on some old and new landscape photos which I’ll talk about a little more later on this week. I’m going to start selling some signed Limited Edition prints so that’s something to stay tuned about as well. Hope you enjoyed another post make sure you check back this week because there are definitely more to come!

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