Bikes in Flight

Canon 5D MkII + 35mm f1.4L | 1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 100

I’ve switched to Canon! Just kidding. The Nikon D7000 I carried with me up the mountain here lacks a sync port, so I couldn’t connect it to the lighting equipment we were using. So for the first time I got to play with a 5D mkII and every sort of red-ringed beauty you could possibly dream of using from photographer Jasmine Lee’s gear bag. She was nice enough to invite Team Suki along to collaborate on a pretty special photo shoot.

The athlete you see in these photos is Joe Lee, Jasmine’s brother. Watching him take these jumps was just incredible, and our job was to attempt to keep up with him with the camera as he flew through the air.

Canon 5D MkII + 35mm f1.4L | 1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 100

The goal for these images was implied movement. Watching a mountain biker shred through a trail and fly through the air feels like observing controlled chaos at its finest. There’s so much speed and energy behind this sport, so the last thing we wanted to do is freeze the entire frame and make Joe look like he was hanging from strings in the air. Instead we wanted to express movement by using motion blur, so we dragged the shutter and panned the camera as Joe flew by, smearing the background. The lower shutter speed also blurred the bike’s wheels enough to show wheel spin (he was really haulin’).

Canon 5D MkII + 35mm f1.4L | 1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 100

We brought in an Elinchrom Quadra lighting unit to get some light on Joe. The Quadra has a good amount of power considering how small and light it is, and we used it to give us some subject to background separation as well as to make sure important elements of our subject weren’t too blurry from all the movement. These shots were taken with a single unit, bare bulb at full power, and we took turns being the shooter and the voice activated light stand.

Canon 5D MkII + 15mm f/2.8 Fish | 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 100

Yes, Suki was there. We had to keep her on leash because if we didn’t, she’d chase Joe down the trail. Quite a hilarious sight to see actually =)

Canon 5D MkII + 15mm f/2.8 Fish | 1/60 sec, f/9, ISO 100

Of course, another way to imply movement is for the background to be sharp and the subject to be slightly blurred by motion:

Canon 5D MkII + 15mm f/2.8 Fish | 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100

Special thanks to Jasmine for inviting us out to help with the shoot and get our hands on some really cool gear, and to Joe for being such an awesome sport. It was a ton of fun, even for Suki, who would never pass on a hike or a chance to chase a cyclist down a dirt hill. Please make sure you have a look at Jasmine Lee’s photography website!

10 thoughts on “Bikes in Flight

  1. amazing shots! i love panning, but it seems hit-or-miss on whether or not it works for me. do you have any tricks you could share?

    1. Thank you! It really depends on the situation, and you have to experiment with your shutter speed and panning technique to get it right. Don’t worry, it’s hit and miss for me too. One trick is to pick a shutter speed that’s not so slow that you can’t keep your subject sharp as you pan but slow enough to blur the background. Also, try to pan as smoothly as possible, following your subject through his or her entire movement. Practice is key!

  2. Really liked the first photo! How did you like the 5d? Did you have to use a high amount of dof to get it in focus or is it just to get that cool effect on the background?

    1. Mikael,

      The 5D is a great camera. Really easy to shoot with, great RAW files, lots of pixels. We used smaller apertures for both reasons you described in fact. We needed some wiggle room with the focus as well as getting the shutter speeds low enough to blur the background as we panned with the athlete.

    1. Yes indeed! I must admit I’m a little sore from hauling the C-stand up and down the mountain, haha. You did a great job getting some fantastic frames. Almost wish we could have done a few more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s