How to Shoot a Moving Subject

Being an experienced sports photographer Mark Dadswell has captured fast moving champions, such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Sally Perason, in action before. photo in sportsHowever, when he started thinking about doing a shooting with Australian cyclist Alex Morgan he wanted to recreate the feeling of movement, but also capture the natural beauty of the south-eastern coast roads of Australia. And doing it all under studio lighting. That’s how the idea of making a lighting rig on the back of a car came about.

In order to capture both his subject and the surroundings, Mark had to keep the camera angle as low as possible. He mounted two B1’s, each equipped with Zoom Reflectors, on to the back of his car and went out for a test run.

The shoot was scheduled around Australian champion Alex Morgan’s training and travel program, in the middle of a cold, wet Victorian winter. Using a local rider before Alex arrived gave them a couple of runs to test out the lighting and some idea of what to expect. Around each bend a new light awaited.

“I wanted two different looks to the shoot – one completely frozen, the other with background movement. So using a shutter speed of around a 60th, from my camera position I could easily reach and control the output from both B1’s, as well as changing the angle of the lights”.

Mark had to change shutter speed combinations as the location varied from backlit, to full shadow, to full sun. And just as he had the right combinations it all very quickly changed again. Meanwhile he had to shout instructions to his subject.

“I find when you are working with top athletes it becomes quite easy to instruct them. They are in total control of their movements and can easily follow your orders”, Mark claims.

“As Alex was only about 2 meters away from the camera we could communicate easily and his control of the bike made my work fairly simple”.

Depending on the location Mark would instruct Alex to ride to the left or to the right of the camera position, to try to fill the background. “I don’t like to overpower the ambient light too much, just enough to light the subject without creating harsh shadows and overexposed highlights”.

“With the Profoto B1 I could quickly change between shooting with HSS, to shooting manually at a slower shutter speed, all the while giving me fast recycle times.”

Mark has made a behind-the-scenes video showing how he did the shoot.

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