Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fight with Flight....

Last weekend I had the great experience of being invited out to accompany my friend Joseph Lee to shoot at the Red Bull 'Fight with Flight' event. That's right, the name of this post has no significance to me other than the fact that it was the name of the event that I shot. What a great event it was too. More than enough sugar and caffeine in all of the Red Bull that I drank to ensure that most of the photos that I shot were fuzzy due to shaky hands. I was there in no official capacity but was there just to shoot something new, different and on my own. I figured I'd either have the images for portfolio use, convince the newspaper to run a story about the event, or sell the images to someone. None of which has happened to this point, but I had a hell of a time for sure as it was an opportunity to do a few things that I haven't really done since I owned my D2x. Despite that I wasn't initially credentialed after a quick review of my photos I was granted a media credential for the day of competition. I'd like to once again thank Brittany, James, and Joe for helping make it all happen for me that day.

(Nikon D3, 320ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5@18mm. 1/100th@F5. Nikon SB-900 Set to iTTL +1EV zoomed to 200mm aimed with my left hand about arms length out fired by an SU-800 Speedlight commander unit on camera.)

The event was about flatlanding. It's basically flat land stunts on BMX bikes. Standing on the back of the bike using your foot to propel yourself, jumping onto the front handle bars and standing on it while the bike is moving, riding the bike backwards with one wheel up in the air eating Cheetos with peanut butter while yodeling...... Ok maybe not the last one, but it was definitely a pretty cool thing to see much less photograph. The guy in the photo above is Tyler Gilliard and whether you want to believe it or not that is not a photo of him falling. That's one of the tricks that the guys would do on the Bikes, is standing on the back and leaning far over while rotating in circles. Wild, Wild stuff.

(Nikon D3, 200ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5@18mm. 1/40th@3.5. Nikon SB-900 Set to iTTL +0.7EV zoomed to 200mm with a warming gel aimed with my left hand about arms length out fired by an SU-800 Speedlight commander unit on camera. White balance set to 3050Kelvin)

In this photo of Jean-William Prevost, you can actually use the same effect as in the first photo with a bit slower shutter speed and a little color trickery. It's much more exciting and dynamic in my opinion than just seeing a guy frozen in time on a bicycle. For all you know the guy could be riding backwards when he's frozen in time. Subsequently I also have quite a few photos just as I describe here, but you do have to get the safety shots. Saftey shots being shots that you know people look for. You can get the artistic shots, the crazy shots, the wild idea shots; but only after you know you have something you can turn in at the end of the day to complete your assignment. You definitely can go after your wild idea shots ahead of time, and lord knows I do my fair share of last minute safety shooting, but overall you want to get your safety shots first.

(Nikon D3, 1600ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR. 1/250th@F3.2. Nikon SB-900 Set to 1/16th power zoomed to 105mm fired by pocket wizard superclamped to a railing on the second level of the airplane hangar.)

That would be one of those shots actually. Like I said earlier, it was amazing what these guys can do on these bikes. I'd have killed myself at least 3 times had I been the one on the bike, but then again I'd probably have attempted the Cheetos yodeling thing I mentioned earlier because; why go unless you go all the way right? Most of the stuff that I shot during competition was like that, but Practice was really when I got to play around and thus earn my credential at the event.

(Nikon D3, 320ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5@35mm. 1/250th@F7.1. Nikon SB-900 Set to 1/4th power zoomed to 200mm fired by pocket wizard aimed by Jeremiah underneath the plane wing to my right)

That's definitely not what the venue looked like, but sometimes you'll try anything to get a low ISO in awful lighting conditions. That's where my Experience with my old D2x came in; and that's where the idea for the shot above came from. The easiest way to get out of the rut of ISO is to make available light unavailable, which is exactly what I did above. Yea that's Tyler Gilliard again, he was the only one that seemed to accommodate my request to get closer to the airplane wing that I was laying on. Yea, I was laying on the wing of a 737 for this shot. I was far enough down that I was face over one side with the camera, and feet off the other side. I'm pretty sure it wasn't recommended but it's not recommended to accept candy from strangers either, and yet I do that quite a bit.

It was definitely something fun to attend, and even shoot even without the normal press credentials that I usually enjoy at these kinds of events. Despite my lack of any authority at all, I still managed to pull people aside and shoot a few out of the ordinary things. I find that not having a piece of equipment, or having certain permissions will just help spawn creativity. I have a great photo of Terry Adams that I can't post just yet. I had no idea who he was a the time, but I asked the Red Bull man in charge of the event (James) to help me find someone I could take 3 minutes to make a wicked photo with. He liked the idea, and introduced me to Mr. Terry Adams. I've got a nice portrait of one of the lovely Red Bull ladies in attendance, as well as some shots of two guys that helped make this event happen here in Indianapolis. Ironically out of all the sports images that I shot, it's the few 3 minute portraits that I did that I like the best. Lord the Irony. I'll be sure to alert everyone when the rest are up online as soon as I'm cleared to post them. More Soon.

(Nikon D3, 200ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5@18mm. 1/60th@F4. Nikon SB-900 with the warming gel set to 1/2 power shot through a 20" square softbox to above camera left fired by pocket wizard. Single SB-900 Speedlight set to 1/8th power fired by pocket wizard superclamped to the Flight attendant station in the back of the airplane cabin. The camera's white balance was set to 3050kelvin to give the rear strobe that cool blue glow.)


  1. Great photos Marc as usual, this is something I rather enjoy watching or use to in my younger days. Cannot wait to see the others :)

  2. Great shots man!! This is too cool because one of Facebook buddies; the pastors son of whom married Sarah and I that you photographed was part of this competition! I wonder if you got any shots of him! I would be interested in seeing the whole shoot!! Looking great man as always!!