BTS | Balázs Csőke

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In my previous post, I explained who Balázs is and how we came to do 3 shoots for him for his personal website (a swimming shoot, running shoot, and biking shoot). Here’s how we made the photos and what we were trying to do with each photo shoot to best display Balázs that incorporated his wants and our style.

When I first sat down with Balázs, he told me that he just wanted to look “cool”. Kind of vague, but I had an idea of what he was looking for. He wanted action, a cutting edge look that transcended the normal runner in mid-stride or swimmer taking a breath. He wanted to display what Ironman means: to go beyond the norm and accomplish the impossible…. Now we’re talking about an interesting photo shoot!

We broke the shoots up into 3 different sessions, starting with the run, then shooting the swim, and finally the bike. In that same order, I’m going to walk you through how we lit the shots, why we chose to light them that way, and what we were trying to accomplish before we did anything at all.

First, when I think sports, I’m thinking high contrast, muscle definition, some motion blur, and all of that photo-goodness. No doubt in my mind, I’m going to shoot with a silver beauty dish. The beauty dish still gives me that nice light that I’m looking for and I have the ability to soften the light by adding a sock if I feel like its necessary. I also generally tend to use silver when I’m shooting men just because it picks up the contrast in the skin a little bit more and makes the overall image a little harsher. I also choose to use lights because it gives me the ability to lower my shutter speed below the 1/(focal length) rule and still stop the action and capture a clear image. If I’m wanting to capture action and still get the feel and look and movement that Balázs was wanting, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. So, now we’ve got the lighting choice, time to set it up and shoot!

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For the run I got up above Balázs (not easy considering how tall he is compared to me!) to try and capture a little more of the Ironman Texas course by using some of the overpasses and a small step ladder. Having him run past my shooting point, I used a little larger depth of field to give myself a larger window for a clean focus and did a spot focus on where I wanted to frame him and clicked the shutter when I ran by that point. You can see from the Instagram photo below that I was using the beauty dish coming almost directly at Balázs and instructed him to back up and get a good run so he looked and felt comfortable and we got some great shots of him running in stride at full speed. The results were awesome and it was a great shoot to kick off the series with.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t do any BTS photos for the swim because we were so short on time and I was actually in the water with Balázs while Sam shot from the pool deck to give us as much material and as many angles as possible in the quickest amount of time possible. But, we have some great ideas and I’m sure there is more to come of Balázs swimming in the near future. (hint hint!)

Our last, and most complicated, shoot was ones of Balázs riding. I really wanted to capture Balázs in motion and after watching plenty of videos over the years of photogs like Chase and Kevin do their magic, I wanted to step up our game. So, instead of just having Balázs ride by me, I actually set our light up mobile in the back of the truck and, hanging off of the dropped tailgate, I was instructing Balázs, my wife (driving), and shooting all at the same time. More to come on this with BTS video later, but for now, here’s another Instagram shot of the setup I used to capture some of my most memorable photos of Balázs on the bike.

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The lighting strategy was the same as the run – head on glamour lighting – to keep consistency between the shoots and, again, I exposed for the background to be 1-2 stops darker and lit Balázs based on those readings. The results are shown below and stay tuned to the next upcoming blog post with video(!) to give a more in-depth look into how these bike shots were captured.

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