As you can see from our last post on traveling and packing the majority of our traveling burden can be blamed on our lighting equipment. What we choose to bring on any given trip depends on the goals outlined by the story and the shot list (on an editorial shoot) or the creative brief (on a commercial shoot).

The creative brief for this trip included outside sculpted portraits at night with gells and light painting, lit daytime action, product focused environmental lifestyle, and a variety of studio set ups. We’ll break these post down into 4 categories: On hill action, improvised studio, lifestyle, and creative (light painting etc.).

Unfortunately we can’t show any of the final imagery until Spyder’s 2012 product is launched.

On Hill

The first goal of the NZ shoot was getting onhill images of Colby James West and Eva Patscheider in the terrain park. For locations we had basically 2 choices for a good park: Snow Park or Cadrona. Cadrona had just hosted the Burton NZ Open slopestyle so the jumps were primed and ready to go. We got clearance to show up before the lifts were open to the public so we hustled the crew out of our humble Queenstown abode and loaded the lifts just after first light.

Since the two angles we felt worked best for the jumps were a long lens shot facing West and a fisheye shot from behind we decided to set up two Profoto heads on the West side of the jump at 45° from where the peak action (apex of the skier’s arc through the air) would happen. For the long lens shot this would provide a quality rim light in addition to the natural fill light. From the fisheye from behind the set up would provide a key and a rim light while the sun would provide some fill. The Profoto 7B and Profoto Acute 600 provided plenty of power to shoot during full daylight and the new Pocketwizard’s hyper sync allows us to freeze action during the day. We shot all day at 1/1600th of a second without any trouble and got some cool results where the skier was completely crisp with a backlit snow trail from the take off, a nice rim light on the skier, and nice early day natural fill from the sun.

You can see the strobe positions here.
Packing list for a park shoot day:

Light Bags – Lowepro
-Battery pack – Profoto 7B
-Synch Cord
-Pocketwizard -Flex TT5
-2 Lightstands -Manfroto
-2 Reflectors – Profoto
-tent stakes
Camera Bag (LowePro TK)
-Camera body – D300s, D700
-Back up body – D7000
-Lenses – Nikor 80-200mm 2.8, Nikon 50mm 1.4, 80mm Tilt shift, 14mm Nikon Fisheye f2.8, 17-35mm Nikon 2.8mm
-Extra cards – 32gig Sandisk
-Extra battery
-Motorola Radios
-Lens cloth
-Water Bottle

Extras for Backcountry Shoot
-Beacon, Shovel, Probe
-Extra Goggles
-Hand Warmers

Tips and tricks for strobing action on hill:

-Every camera and flash system is a little different and the Pocketwizard settings take a little tweaking to get the hyper sync right. For our D700 and both Profoto kits we set the delay to -1700
-Find a bag that will fit the flashpacks and two heads. It’s nice if it has a top strap to hang on the light stands for extra stability
-Tent stakes and paracord or webbing works well for anchoring a light stand if it’s windy or you’re on an uneven surface
-Gaffer tape the lid from a bottled water over the power switch of the Profoto packs. Nothing worse than getting to a location only to find you have a dead battery before the day starts
-Keep a sync chord and Pocketwizard with each pack. Sucks if your flashes end up somewhere difficult to access with an assistant or an athlete and all the wizards are in your camera pack.
-Shower caps from hotels can be great makeshift camera covers if it’s pissing rain or dumping snow.
-Always bring more memory cards and extra batteries than you think you’re going to need.


Before heading on the road we test the pocketwizards in the studio to dial in the sync speeds. By shooting against a white wall you can get a good feel for how the hypersync is working.

These shots are with the Profoto. Eventually we got the profoto syncing clean up to 1/2000 of a second. When we shoot with the Nikon Speedlight system we can go as fast as we want.