Hurdle Photo #1

Image Details: Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 73mm, ISO 100, f/16

Having a hard time getting to sleep tonight so I thought I’d get a head start on the blog posts I promised following my photo shoot with Ashton Eaton. I’ve had some questions about the three photos that I’ve uploaded the past few days so I wanted to give you all a little closer look behind my thought process for  each of the images.

This one is a pretty simple setup that I got from a fstoppers.com video I watched a while back (Pocket Wizard Flex Review). They did something similar to this but instead with a basketball player and had a lot more room to work with. I shot this on the track underneath the West Grandstands at Hayward field. There’s not a ton of room under there and we were trying to take up as little room as possible.

I set up three of my Einstein 640s behind Ashton which were all placed on stands. Then, I had my two assistants hand hold two of my Nikon SB-600s which in hindsight was a mistake. Everything turned out fine, but it became a nightmare in post to remove two people without ruining part of the effect.

Now, I know that this might be a little confusing because that only covers 5 lights in the background but you see 9. Well, a couple months back I was bored and I spent an afternoon shooting stock starburst images because I knew they would become useful at some point. In order to pump this image up a bit (and cover up some post nightmares) I threw in a couple other starbursts.

The last light was actually the only light I had left in my bag at the time. I had one more assistant hold my AB Ring Flash up closer to Ashton from camera left to light him up as he went over the hurdle (otherwise you would have just seen an outline due to all the backlighting).

Lens choice wasn’t too difficult here. Usually I reach for my 24-70mm in most cases but I thought I might need a little more distance between me and the hurdle so Ashton wouldn’t fly into me and hurt himself. I know I shot at 73mm so I could have racked out on my 24-70mm and almost been there but I wanted the freedom to be able to move even further back just in case. The most important thing during a shoot with a premiere athlete like Ashton (but also with any model or athlete) is keeping them as safe as possible.

I already touched a little bit on the post processing involved but I’ll touch on the rest. This wasn’t as complex as most of my photos usually are. The biggest challenge was being able to completely black out the background and really remove some of the pillars and pipes that didn’t make this look like he was in a race and the flash bulbs were going off. After that, I added some contrast in his body but also lightened up his OTC uniform so you could see the green a little bit better. The last thing I did was a little dodging and burning. I had someone post on the fan page that I photoshopped his shoulders to be bigger. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I used the dodge and burn tools to emphasize his muscles but I didn’t go in and actually make his muscles appear larger. That would involve too much work and just not worth it in my book.

I hope this gave you all a better idea of what went into the making of this image. I’m very happy with the result but I wouldn’t consider this my favorite photo of the set. Speaking of favorites, I’d really appreciate it if you’d all head on over to the Zach Ancell Photography Facebook Fan Page and vote in the poll I posted yesterday about your favorite image from the series. It’s always interesting form me to see which images are more popular than others. I definitely have my favorites but they are very rarely in line with everyone else’s favorites are.

That’s all for today. I should have the next write up about the Block Start image tomorrow or at the latest Monday morning. I’m off to put together some marketing materials and possibly plan an interesting summer project (that would involve all of you taking the photos!). Thanks for stopping by!

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