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Jogging in Paradise, Garrapata State Park, Big Sur

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 16 October 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (Workshop Sold Out)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (2 spots remaining)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(2 spots remaining)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (space available)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (hurry - only 5 spots remaining)
New Articles on my Website: Combining Beauty With Beauty - Photographing An Athlete In Big Sur With The Help Of Smart Flashes And Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Remotes and Behind the Scenes at NHL and NBA Media Days

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Books Available for Purchase on my Website:
Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
The Photographer's Guide to the Big Sur Coast (e-book version - 102 pages)
On the Edge (printed version - softcover and hardcover - 120 pages)

For the past three years my wife Beri and I have toying with the idea of combining my passion for sports action shooting with my equally strong passion for landscape photography. The idea was to combine attractive athletes doing there thing in gorgeous iconic locations such as the spectacular Big Sur coast. Thanks the the help of my friend Mary Margaret Lanning, this idea has finally come to fruition!

Mary Margaret is a professional personal trainer by trade and was the first person who came to mind when looking at a list of potential athletes for this session. What also made this idea a reality was a relatively new remote from the folks at Pocket Wizard and the development of the FlexTT5 for Canon that allows for wireless off-camera flash photography with Canon smart flashes.

With the help of my friend/colleague Mike Hall, we set two Canon 550 Speedlights on extended light stands with each powered by a Quantum Turbo Battery that allowed for rapid recycle times. We placed the lights on either side of the trail pointed straight at Mary Margaret. This image was made approximately two hours prior to sunset with the sun directly behind Mary's back. Without the flashes, her face and front of her body would have been in dark silhouette. Had I compensated the exposure for her face I would have lost detail in the landscape. Allowing the strobes to throw light back towards the sun was the only way to properly light this scene.

One quick note about working with speedlights. I shot in TV (shutter-priority) mode and allowed the camera to pick the aperture as this allowed for the flash capacitors to only dump the power needed for each shot and retain what was not used. In other words, if this image only needed 70% of the flash's capacitor to make this image, then it would leave the remaining 30% for the next frame allowing for quicker recycle times. Had I shot in manual mode, it would have still used the 70% needed for proper exposure of Mary but would have dumped the remaining 30%. Depending on the aperture (this frame was f/9) it requires a lot of light from these small units, thus by using two, I cut the power needed by each flash in half, which in turn, allowed for a quick burst of three frames in motor-drive mode!

Because Mary Margaret was jogging lateral to my position, I felt I could stop her at a shutter of 1/320 but later hedged my bets and went to 1/400th. The beauty of the FlexTT5's is that they allow for high-speed sync with shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second. All this happens at distances in excess of 400 feet and allows for TTL-metering. In other words, the flash and camera are working together similar to the flash being on the camera's hot shoe but at distances never before imagined - gotta love technology!

The stretch of beach used here is the iconic Garrapata State Park looking north from Sobranes Point. Thanks to the efforts of Mary Margaret and Mike, we shot non-stop for 2 1/2 hours producing 175 images of which I am trying desperately to narrow down to a tight submission for Getty Images. This image will certainly be one of the final selects!

BTW - if any of you are interested in being trained by Mary Margaret, you can contact her through her website at Mary Margaret Lanning Personal

To see Mike Hall's terrific images, you can visit Mike's Website or Mike's Blog.

To read a more in-depth account of the session, please read my latest how-to article: Combining Beauty With Beauty - Photographing An Athlete In Big Sur With The Help Of Smart Flashes And Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Remotes.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV 1/320 second F/9.0 ISO 200 18 mm

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