When everything goes exactly to plan it’s easy to get the shot, but what if your ducks aren’t in the same pond, let alone in a row? That’s when you’ve got to work harder to pull something out of the bag. It tests your mettle and pushes your ability to make the best of what you have to work with.
I came up against this sort of situation again recently at Santa Pod. The Fast Show is the first show of the modified season in the UK and being March, the weather can be is bit hit or miss. In this case, it missed. In the first few hours we had rain, then sleet and finally some snow – none of which is conducive to running cars down a drag strip!
But… everyone was there and trying to make the best of it, including one of my clients who now sponsor a lane on the strip and needed some publicity photos. The Performance Direct girls Faye and Hayley were brave enough to come out from under cover so it was time to get planning. Here’s the thought process:
- A closed drag strip is bad for all the people wanting to see how fast their daily driver can do a 1/4 mile but good for me as it means I can use the freshly resurfaced start line as my location. The wet surface will also give a nice reflection of the girls red wellies.
- With my 70-200mm racked out to 200mm I can compress the scene and bring the famous Santa Pod sign closer.
- The sky is a very flat, dull grey so to get some interest in the clouds I will under expose by 2 stops.
- Underexposing will mean Faye and Hayley are dark, so I need a flash. It’ll make the red and white outfits pop nicely against the grey background too.
- It’s pouring with rain so I’m using one of my old Nikon SB24’s. I’m not risking one of my Quadras.
- I’ve got limited power with the flash so I’m going to have to crank it quite high and use it bare. Too windy for a softbox anyway.
- I’ll fly it on a boom as I need to get quite a way back at 200mm and I don’t want to have to Photoshop the stand out in post.
- A quick check with the light meter tells me im at f/11 at 1/160th. Test shot of the back of my hand to double check.
Time to get the girls on “set”!
It was wet, windy and cold so I had to work fast but with everything thought through and dialed in while they were in the warmth of the media centre I could concentrate on getting a good pose and composition and be done in a few minutes.
Here’s the final set up. Shot from a low angle, zoomed to 200mm, flash high, to camera left, client looking on and Fay and Hayley doing what they do best.
And here’s the resulting image, used by Performance Direct across their various channels. Big thanks to Faye & Hayley, Matt at PD, Suze at Santa Pod for her hospitality and Darren for the behind the scenes shots.