Sunday, 5 December 2010

Postcards: Budokon

Angela Jørgensen, editor of Chikara magazine, asked me if I would shoot Cameron Shayne for an upcoming article. Cameron created Budokon, a mix of martial arts, yoga, and meditation. Apparently, he has some pretty high profile followers in Hollywood, as you can see in this video.

It's been a while since I have done any editorial shooting and I knew this was going to be a tough one even with the lack of practice. The site of the shoot was 108 Yoga, where Cameron was hosting a Budokon workshop for local followers. The studio was quite dark and if I shot it with ambient light, the resulting photos would be very noisy from shooting at a high ISO. If I shot with just flash, the shots would have a starker look than what I was looking for. So I tried balancing the flash with the ambient.

While Cameron was wrapping up his workshop and talking to the students, I took a few test shots of Traverse.


I used a Nikon SB900 flash gelled for tungsten light (full CTO) into an umbrella and controlled the flash with a home-made iTTL flash cord. I use a hacked short iTTL cord with a couple of Cat5e connectors so I can choose any length of cable depending on the location and the need. I just put in the right length of Ethernet cable and I am good to go.

Putting the umbrella in close (just out of the frame, camera right) gave me a very nice soft wrap. I did not use a shoot-through as I wanted to trap the light and have it come forward and not bounce around all over the small studio. The iTTL cord meant I didn't have to do any guessing or measuring. I set the camera (Nikon D3x) to manual, metered the ambient and went about 3 stops darker. At ISO 400, this was f8 and 1/4. I stuck a Nikon SB800 on a small stand and put it behind Traverse and set it to fire from the SB900 at EV 0. This gave me a bit of separation between Traverse and the background.

With the correct ratio for the ambient to flash, I then had Cameron step in for a headshot.

I took a number of head shots quickly and when I knew I had a couple of good ones in the bag, I then moved to try and capture the essence of balancing a martial art and yoga. I left the SB900 in the umbrella and put it camera right and went to f5.6 and 1/60. I wanted a touch of blur in Cameron to indicate motion. Again, having an iTTL cable meant I didn't have to figure out flash power levels during my limited time with Cameron.

After that, we went for a combination of a couple of yoga poses between Cameron and the student. I put the SB800 at camera left to kick in a bit more light.

While I was taking the above image, I was struck by the geometry of the composition. To emphasize it, I killed the flash and used only the ambient light to capture them in a silhouette. This is at f2.8 and 1/60.

Click on any of the above photos to go to Flickr and see it in a larger size.


Anonymous said...

Very, very good shots at YOGA studio. Amazing!!! I practice Yoga but I do NOTHING, not even close any of this....Beatriz

JayM said...

Nicely done. Some good teaching points.