There were two things I was keen to get from the Nottingham trip. A chance to play with a lighting idea I had, see below, and some shots to add to the ‘Into The City’ collection, themed around urban sports. So 24 hours in the company of a bunch of skaters and I got both done. The shoot highlights from the street and park sessions will have to wait for another post, but I’d like to share the start of a lighting idea….

I like silhouettes. I like the minimalist aesthetic they represent and I like the idea of depicting action stripped to its basics. I think that every sport has a classic shape that would be instantly recognisable to its participants. Its a thought that builds on this post

Anyway, the idea of the mobile silhouette maker (™) occurred to me (possibly with a little help from HERE) and with a few bay purchases I have version 1.0 of the rig.



Ok, it might not look like a sellable, branded bit of kit yet and it certainly needs a catchier name but, fundamentally, it works. Initial findings, some more obvious than other would be:

  • The stands were too short, hence the balancing act on the chairs.
  • The cheapest, most effective and durable insta-sand-bags (™) turns out to be 5KG bags of Tesco Value rice. 4 quid a go
  • Even with the insta-sand-bags in place the slightest gnat’s chuff of breeze brought the whole thing down. A king size sheet is a massive sail area
  • Strapping and bungees as anchors is a mediocre solution, stakes and ropes would have been better
  • I needed at least two flash units. Positioned at about mid height, relative to the sheet, mid zoom and cross lit, to avoid obvious hot spots
  • weighting the bottom of the sheet and tying it out at the corners helped keep it relatively wrinkle free, which helps keep a uniform back ground

What I had expected was an perfect silhouette, but of course with such a massive amount of diffuse light being pushed out, our model picks up a significant amount. One solution would be to move him further from the light, but relative sizes become a problem and the sheet needs to be bigger. In an ideal world you’d have a sun sized sheet at 93 million miles distant. But ebay didn’t have any.


However photoshop can sort that out….


However, looking at this now, whilst it nearly works as that archetypal kickflip shape (Rob had to keep his arms low because the sheet height / size was already at max) it lacks context, and the lighting effect on is actually really interesting too.  So…the plan for the next shoot is to bring together the super soft light, the stripped down silhouette effect and some basic foreground to create an image with context. An example? How about a a park bench grind, low PoV, backlit in the same way as above?


Well, no, how about the fact that my next shoot is mountain bikes in Wales. Weather will dictate whether or not I can use it, but I’m packing the silohette-o-matic(™)





About The Author


Action and adventure photographer based in London, shooting commercial and editorial images that seek to capture the beauty in the lifestyles he loves

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