Anatomy of a photo - Spring Voyage 7c

25th Jan 2010

Just another day at the office - My office in question for today was Stanage Edge in the Peak District National Park. Thats Derbyshire, England for the foreign visitors amongst you.

Stanage Edge is a rocky escarpment of Gritstone, stretching nearly 4 miles and reaching a height of about 80ft at its highest point, thats not particularly high as cliffs go, but then we weren't here to go "big" we were here to hopefully make a few great shots.

Neil Mawson and i had decided to make the most of a beautiful sunny January day and shoot some photos of a few classic boulder problems for Neils Sponsors Marmot and Zero G. We'd already visited another bouldering area, but had decided to cut the session short and head over to where the Blue skys hung over one of the most popular climbing destinations in Britain, although it wasn't the Edge we were heading to, but an isolated boulder known as the 'Buckstone Dyno" beneath it. Neil wanted to try and repeat a classic problem on the boulder called Spring Voyage.

We arrived mid afternoon by which time the boulder was already in shade. The main edge by comparison was enjoying a huge dose of sun - of course being one of our local crags we knew it would be and had brought along a couple of lighting stands and two Nikon flashguns that we could use to fire at Neil to try and balance the light (about 2 and a half stops difference between the Crag in the sunlight and Neil in the shade) i already new exactly the type of shot i wanted and had asked Neil to bring along some bright clothing to compliment the Blue sky, orange and black in this instance worked really well. I got Neil to demonstarte the moves a couple of times so i could check his body position, once i was happy with the overall composition i set up the flashguns, one close in to climbers left and one shooting front on straight at him from about 12ft away - See diagram below


anatomy of a photograph

 The idea was to use the SB900 as the main light and manually zoom the head to its max setting of 200mm creating a "hotspot" of light around Neils upper legs, torso and head, but falling off around his feet, thus drawing the eye towards Neil's face and at the same time to his Sponsors logo on the back of his tee shirt. The second "fill" flash, an SB800 was positioned about 6ft to the left and at about the same height as Neil. I attached a Stoffen diffuser to the flashgun and then to soften the light even more, a small "shoot through" umbrella. I used an umbrella to keep things simple and quick on location. Umbrellas blast light everywhere and aren't as directional as a Softbox can be, but with it angled so the flash just missed Neil, the nice edge light just feathered onto him and didn't over power the scene. Both flashes were triggered using Pocket Wizards my prefered trigger device when i'm working outdoors.

 Neil Mawson on Spring Voyage - Font 7c

Spring Voyage 7c

Nikon D700, Nikkor 14 - 24mm/2.8G @ 24mm/F7.1 - ISO 400, -2.7EV