I have a love – hate relationship with composite photography. The amount of tools available to photographers in our digital era, enable us to realize our creative vision with unprecedented freedom. It’s an exciting time to be a photographer! That said, all these tools are just that – a means to an end, so its important for me to ask some pertty basic questions upfront when deciding if a composite workflow is appropriate for any given project; can I achieve my creative vision in camera? What unique challenges will shooting composite present, and do those challenges outweigh the benefits?
This series was a lot of fun to work on and had some pretty unique hurdles to jump along the way.
Location scouting in the digital era.
I always prefer to shoot background plates first. In this case having a stand-in helped immensely as a reference when shooting the athletes.
We photographed Audi Cycling Team rider Sam Waples in the studio on a free standing rolling trainer. That rig allowed Sam to actually ride on the trainer. It was a critical piece of the puzzle that gave the final composite the authenticity that is always a struggle to maintain in a composite workflow.
We used specialized software developed for automotive photographers to create realistic motion blurs.
The final composite.
Check out the entire series online: http://www.oliverludlow.com/AUDI-CYCLING
Earlier this year Virginia Marshall, editor of Adventure Kayak Magazine approached me to use one of my images of Kiliii Fish. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to reflect on how these images came to life!
Kiliii Fish is just one of those people who when you meet for the first time you instantly want to know more about. He has a frenetic and thoughtful presence, and a wealth of knowledge to share about all things outdoors. Combine that our mutual love of being on the water and photography and we hit it off from the start.
“Skin on frame kayak builder, photographer, filmmaker, expedition kayaker, climber, musician, wilderness survival instructor, and primitive skills guide — if we had to put a label on Kiliii Fish, it might be outdoor adventure Renaissance man.” – Adventure Kayak
My approach to creating images always starts with a clear vision of what I want to create; and these images were burned into my mind’s retina long before any shutters clicked. Crafting that mental image and deconstructing it’s visual language is personally the most enjoyable part of the process. Getting down to the details of realizing that vision, is where the work starts.
These images were shot at Ruby Beach on the west coast of Washington State. From the beginning I knew I wanted to use the stunning Sea Stacks of the Washington Coast as a backdrop and to give context to the images. That presented a number of logistical challenges. I chose to shoot the images at a time when a low-tide would give the sea stacks the most dramatic impact. Finding a suitable shoot day when that low-tide would coincide with soft evening light was the key to pulling the whole image together.
You can view the entire digital edition of the magazine online here:
Here are a couple more images captured that day:
I had a great time working with and leaning about the Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team (SCHRT) during the processes of shooting this series. This elite team is made up almost entirely of volunteers, who donate their time and expertise to provide a critically needed service to this region. Aside from their primary mission to providing rescue/medical assistance to injured and inaccessible persons, they respond to a variety of emergency situations including a search for a lost child, a missing Alzheimer’s patient, a mass casualty event such as a bridge collapse, or even fighting fires.
Because of recent federal funding cuts, this service is in jeopardy of shutting down. Learn more about what you can do to help HERE.
Its never easy pulling a concept like this together that has so many moving pieces. It is however an exciting moment when the image moves out the catalog of images knocking around in my mind and takes on a life of it’s own.
The real challenge with this picture was to match individual’s elevations and feet placement to the rocky terrain. We used a “family reunion” of apple boxes, wedges, and green cloth to create the form we needed.
A huge thanks to the Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team for their cooperation, and to everyone involved; Randy Fay, Miles McDonough, Andrew Toyota, Casey Nation.
Industrial Design meets Visual Dilemma
Recently the good people at Triad-Orbit™ reached out to me with an interesting challenge; how do you add visual interest to an object as seemingly banal as a microphone stand?
First off they did a tremendous job of completely re-inventing the traditional mic stand, an object that has not seen any innovation in as long as I can remember.
Being a musician myself, it was not hard to appreciate the thought and detail that went into to these products. I have great respect for innovative Industrial Design. It is quite the challenge to intersect form and function all the while creating a stunning work of art that has practical application. There are so many objects that we interact with daily that no one has put a second thought into how they could be improved, so it was a refreshing challenge to work with these products and elevate them visually.
Anyone who has ever attempted photographing something reflective and cylindrical knows that reflections can be difficult to work around. At the end of the day you really end up photographing the reflections rather than the objects. This means a lot of technical lighting and big sources with milky highlights. In short “tasty light”.
Some of favorite shots from the shoot: