A few months ago I was asked by Red Poles Gallery & B&B to organise an exhibition and workshops for the Biennial Shimmer Photography Festival. I suggested that it would be a great opportunity to create a residency at the venue and invite an out-of-town artist to come over to show work and run some workshops. To their credit they said yes to the idea and I set about looking around for a photographer to invite. While I was researching the Hypersync technique for my own work I came across USA Photographer Tom Bol, who teaches the techniques I was curious about. I knew there was no-one in Australia I could find teaching high speed flash techniques, so I emailed Tom to see if he might be interested and available during the festival (assuming there would be other curious photographers who'd be keen to learn from him). We found 1 week in his schedule that coincided with the festival..and then went about the process of organising his trip.
Let's just say that despite all this in place well before the scheduled events, it was hit or miss about whether we could arrange Tom's Australian Visa in time!
ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY & HYPERSYNC
Sure, I guess this is a reasonably specialised subject but I seriously can't imagine any professional photographer not having an understanding of flash synchronisation and ways of extending the limiting flash sync. speed for location and action photography.
Tom explained that with Hypersync, the flash fires normally (it works better with a flash that has a longer duration), and the Pocket Wizards change the timing of when the flash fires (it is times for the tail of the flash duration).
You can see that we are using the sun as a rim / hair light, and are shooting straight into the sun. I could barely see what I was shooting it was so bright!
Each participant had to make a decision about what their ratio of flash to available light would be - whether to balance the ambient light or dominate it, using the shutter speed which with Hypersync can go beyond the flash sync. speed of (typically) 1/200. The shot below was taken at 1/1000s. Given that the forest is quite dark, using a faster shutter speed would make it really dark (day for night). This is what it looks like at 1/2000s (darker background - image on the right)...
Our third set-up was using the barn door of the gallery as a backdrop. Here Tom set up the new Elinchron ELCs (500 W) to explore the high speed shooting capabilities of these lights for action work. In this case the lights are able to fire very rapidly (up to 20 fps depending on the power) so that the photographer can light the scene AND shoot a rapid frame rate to capture the nuances of movement with flash. This IS exciting. Tom said "You can shut down entire B&B's with these lights" and I can see how. They are powerful and it does look like a party on set! Our skateboarder James Pearce was very patient, and the participants went crazy with their continuous high speed shutter settings - the ELC's worked perfectly and it was truly amazing to see what can be achieved with these lights. Here is the simple set-up.
Using this technique it is possible to either make sure you get the shot at the peak of the action (rather than relying on a single frame and exhausting your subject with multiple takes) or plan to create a sequenced shot using layering in Photoshop. Here is an example...
Our last setup was back in the forest, working with Jo suspended in the tree with just a rope and harness. We got the smoke machine going and worked with the 2 Ranger RX lights again. Here is a BTS shot...
Again, I didn't get to concentrate on shooting but snuck around the tree for a shot into the sun. These didn't work too well but here are a couple of shots anyway - shot at 1/800th at f5.6 directly into the sun (which made it very tricky to see and impossible to focus, especially since Jo was moving).
We have had amazing feedback from participants and the workshop was really successful as a learning experience and a practical play. Thanks so much to the sponsors, and to Ros at Red Poles for hosting Tom Bol in Australia, and for supporting the workshops.