Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Israel's Speedskating team

Speedskating is a small but growing sport in Israel. This April, the country will be holding it's first ever speedskating half marathon, as part of the Tel-Aviv marathon events. Since the event is an Israeli first, the organizers had trouble finding appropriate images to advertise it. As a member of the Israeli speedskating team, I was glad to help.

First off, I set up a simple cross-lighting setup for a few "safe" shots, and the obligatory group shot. Two naked speedlights (SB-25, SB-26) on both sides of the skating path aimed straight at the group. The flashes were set to full power (in order to overpower the sun) and triggered by a pair of poverty wizards. For this shot, I asked the our video guy to click the shutter release, so we could get the whole team in the shot (myself included).

Next up, without changing the lighting, I asked the team members to skate down the path, and shot them as they passed through the speedlights.

Once I had a few "safe" shots on my hands, it was time for something a little more exciting. Speedskaters always look their best while taking turns. I set up two speedlights at knee hight, directly in front of the corner, facing the sun. Setting them on full power, and a narrow beam, I got just enough light to match the strong back-light of the noon sun.

After having some fun on one corner of the track, I moved the lighting setup to a shadier corner, in hopes of increasing the contrast between the skaters and the background

Lastly, in order to get that "Nike commercial"-esque look, some post-processing was necessary. After some color and contrast adjustments, I duplicated the each image as a new layer, applied a very strong unsharp mask plugin, and set the new layers mode as "overlay". Lastly, I set the opacity of the overlay to about 30%, you can see the diferent stages of the process here:

(click to enlarge)

I'll admit it's a bit of an over-photoshopped look for my own taste, but I decided to go for it anyhow, since it really works for these shots, and fits the style of advertisement the marathon organizers are likely to use.

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