I just returned from shooting the Trek World Racing Team (TWR) in Phoenix, and while I can’t show you any photos at the moment, I can tell you a bit about the shoot.
The shoot was for a few different purposes, and I was happy to have Trek’s Art Director, Paul Rogers on hand to keep everything going in the direction he needed. We shot images of all the XC and DH riders on the team that will end up being used for everything from ads to postcards and catalog. The postcards are for Sea Otter and they needed to be at the printers less than 2 days after we finished shooting, so one of Treks graphics guys Kevin was there to help out and get started on the cards, he was a great help as well. Trek has some interesting concepts for their upcoming ads and I was stoked to be working on stuff that kept my brain hard at work in the weeks beforehand, figuring out how to accomplish a few different things that at first look seemed to be almost impossible. We ended up blowing off one idea that is something that I’d still like to do. I can’t tell you what it is but I will tell you that it will involve several bodies as well as a generator and several Broncolor Scoro packs to shoot fully lit sequences at about 16 frames a second, and no this is not for video, although it might produce a very interesting look. Can’t wait to try it.
The first day we spent riding and scouting for the upcoming shoots and managed to find a few epic locations. We were really lucky in that it had been a wet winter and spring in Phoenix, and the desert was alive with flowers. Flowers and cactus make for a very interesting backdrop, so I was constantly looking for locations that fit what Paul wanted and also showed the scenery off as much as possible.
The next evening was spent shooting XC with Lukas Flückiger and Emily Batty about an hour north of Phoenix near Black Canyon City. We shot a bunch of different locations on the trail, and I was pretty happy with the results. As with all shoots there were a few glitches thrown into the mix, Lukas’ brother Mathias was supposed to be with us as well, but he’d missed his flight and now wouldn’t arrive until Sunday night. This pushed our whole schedule out by a day as we’d now have to spend Monday shooting Mathias instead of the DH crew. Which left us with only one day to shoot 4 DH riders. I quickly changed my flight to give myself an extra day shooting with Tracy, Justin, Andrew and Neko.
The XC shooting went really well, the Black Canyon location was great, the only real hassle was that it was an hour drive from the hotel.
Downhill shooting on Tuesday was what we’d be originally planning to shoot on Monday, and Tuesday’s schedule was a little bit tighter than Monday’s had been. Also Paul had left that morning to go work on another photoshoot, so I was working from the creative brief and Kevin’s input only. Not a problem, but we were also really pressed for time so we ended up shooting just two locations on the trail before the riders had to head back for lunch and then shock testing. That left us with just Tuesday afternoon and Wednesdays shock testing sessions to get the bulk of the DH photos, and experience with shooting under pressure was key here. I had to find a location on the trail and setup lights and wait for the riders. As they were testing their new Fox shocks and forks they had to stop in between runs for feedback and adjustments, so they were averaging about and hour or more per run. So basically I had to setup, wait, shoot 4 riders as they came by, then wait an hour. If I missed a shot I had to wait an hour to reshoot it, and the light was changing quickly throughout the day. I’m almost amazed at how well the shots turned out and the reasonable variety in the images.
The whole camp I shot primarily with Nikon Speedlights and my high speed sync technique to key shift the sky a bit and keep the riders really sharp. I tried working with my Elinchrom strobes early on, but while they have a very short flash duration that froze everything nicely, we were shooting on a tripod, and they tended to leave a noticeable ghost image even at 1/250th of a second. This is something we didn’t want so I defaulted to my now standard flash technique using Pocket Wizard Multimax’s to shoot at 1/1250th or 1/1600oth which created a really nice light and left the riders really sharp.
All in all it was a fairly successful shoot and I’m stoked to be working with the TWR team throughout the rest of the season. I’ll post some photos after they’ve been released…