Last month I finished a project for Hearst Creative Solutions (that's Men's Health, Runner's World and Women's Health to the layman) for Speedo. It took the shape of the now fairly familiar format of giving a select bunch of people top level coaching, testing and kit so as to improve their swimming and fitness. I've done similar shoots for Asics, New Balance, and Optimum Nutrition amongst others, as it proves to be quite a good way of getting people involved, as well as showcasing just what people can achieve when they're given access to elite level coaching, facilities and equipment.
|Alex about to start his VO2 max test.|
|Swim coaching, with a surplus of floats.|
There was also the added complication of having to shoot video on the middle of the 3 pool days. Nothing too complicated, just some pieces to camera, some action shots, and some underwater footage. For the other 4 days I was just doing stills, and those nice folk at Fight Gravity Films were handling the video side of things. Having worked with them before I knew there would be no problems with us stepping on each other's toes, or eating up each other's time allocation, but it should be said that there is a LOT of potential for conflict here if you don't liaise with the video crew before and during the shoot to make sure you both get what you need.
|Working around the video crew - note the 2 camera setup, one on a Ronin mount, and the tungsten light top right.|
|Best Stan Laurel impression ever.|
|Not staged (honest)|
|Water and electricity - nature's great enemies.|
Shooting swimmers has always been a bit of a challenge in my experience, as the action above the surface is a bit mundane and repetitive. The views around the swimmers don't change much, focus tracking can be all sorts of fun, and lighting them can also present a bit of a challenge if they're half way across the pool. So, although I shot a fair few shots of "live" swimming action, as much as possible we would take each swimmer away to a corner and stage the action so we could control and light things better.
|How everyone always gets out of a pool.|
|This one's actually totally real - a case of good timing as Amy swam beneath the skylight.|
|Thinking deep, meaningful swimming thoughts.|
|More deep meaningful swimming thoughts.|
- You need a lot of light to penetrate into the water
- Unless you want direct flash (I don't) you can't use flashes in the water, so you'll have to position them outside the pool, and find a way to trigger them.
- Radio signals don't work well through water, you'll need to rig your trigger as near the surface as possible.
- Lots of flash power means slower recycling, which means you'll almost certainly only get one shot for each pass they make. You'll need to explain to people that they'll have to do the same action over, and over, and over again.
- People, and plastic camera housings, float. Get some sort of ballast belt to hold you down once you're in the water.
- With a housing like this, it's very hard indeed to adjust the controls once you've loaded the camera in.
D800 plus Air TTL trigger inside Ewamarine housing.
|Lying in wait for a swimmer|
|Reviewing pics with Ben the Art Director, and hoping Amy likes them too.|
|Not bad for a £300 housing, and some gaffer tape stuck to the top to keep the radio trigger in place!|
|I love the wide angle distortion on this shot - I made precisely no effort to remove it.|