Norway – Adventures in light – Ice Climbing

WI5 Krokan, Rjukan. 1/250th F7.1 ISO 400 28mm Tickled up with a little flash.

As, is clear from the last post, I was in Norway shooting some Ice-climbing back in February. As well as learning the basics of picking our way up the frozen waterfalls I also got to try out a couple of ideas in lighting. Knowing that the deep vallies would mean light was at premium I took the full strobe setup with me to make my own light if required. Since I was climbing as a pair would be that I’d either be on belay or climbing, so there would little opportunity to set up an independent rope to get up close for the lighting set so I decided to try using a boom of some kind.

Various iterations were trialled. It needed to be light, collapsable and sturdy enough to take the 3.5 Kg of the big camera and lens. (The eventual plan being to use it to dangle over the edge of rock faces, wave around at the skatepark and swing about at the trails to shoot interesting angles)

Tent poles, fishing rods and pool cues were all subjected to scrutiny, until I realised I was basically building a monopod. 15 quid later, monopod purchased I was sorted. I hate it when I discover something amazing only to find out it’s already been done, manufactured and sold in millions. Bit like the time I thought a horseless carriage could do well with the right advertising.

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Tent pole / fishing rod / 15 quid monopod.

Anyway, back in the frozen North, I set about directing flash light from atop the ‘one-pole’ This turns out to be much harder than I had hoped. At full extension aim is very hit and miss, mainly miss. But, when it does come together it helps pick out the subject rather well. What helped is obviously a wider zoom on the strobe, though this is a bit of a compromise between power and therefore range, and improved accuracy.

Secondly wedging the bottom of the pole in snow helped fix one point and stabilised the whole aiming process. But this then brings the light source closer to the camera axis, meaning increased unpleasant reflections hitting the lens.

Finally, making sure the balance to ambient was close, so the lighting effects were subtle. This means low power flash and as slow a shutter speed as possible without motion blur. (Thank you IS lens technology)

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Hitting the target. Flash lit climber. 1/125th F6.3 ISO 250 10mm

So, more practice might help bring this shot off, but the primary requirement is to be on an independent rope in terms of generating more interesting images. Next time…..

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