The Digital Photo Guy

Hula Hoops & Hot Ladies at the Garden

by on Apr.07, 2014, under gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4

Night Shoot of the Challenging Variety

Yes, the four co-founders of Heady Hoop Tribe (HHT) are attractive young ladies and all are very talented but those aren’t the only reasons they’re hot. After 30 minute sets of dancing, prancing, jumping and cavorting with a variety of LED props, they’re literally HOT as in working up a sweat and panting like a race horse. At my age, it was the only way I was going to have a young, good looking woman sweating and panting next to me! It was fun to shoot subjects far removed from my usual fare of birds, critters, landscapes and old rusty stuff.

HeadyHoop_web-119   HeadyHoop_web-117   HeadyHoop_web-106   HeadyHoop_web-116   HeadyHoop_web-107   HeadyHoop_web-110

A friend in the Wickenburg Photography Group invited me to be 2nd shooter for this gig which included free admission to the Phoenix Botanical Garden Chihuly Exhibit. The women were great to work with and took direction well. It was fun to work with young people again. The most challenging aspect was getting the exposure right without including bystanders in the background.

I didn’t know much about the assignment until we got to the Desert Botanical Garden. It turned out the performers were among the crowd, a’la street performers. In such situations, if you give the crowd an inch, they’ll fill it two and three deep with spectators. I went with my 5D MkII and 50/1.4 so I could get in close. I wished I had brought my 17-40/f4 but you know what wishing gets you! To avoid shadows across the neck and below the chin, I handheld my flash low on an off-camera shoe cord (OCSC) to throw the light upwards. That also guaranteed no red-eye issues. Focus concerned me but I ran the numbers through a Depth of Field Calculator and felt comfortable with DOF at 6 to 10 feet. I culled about 33% OOF (out of focus) on my first review but I was happy with the results. With shutter speeds ranging from 0.4 to 0.6 seconds, the camera was on my small Gitzo 1228 tripod but I also experimented with handholding. In those photos, the stationary background lights are blurred. The trick was using a long enough shutter speed to capture lots of action without completely blowing out the LEDs. The flash was strictly to freeze the performer.

I set my Canon 550EX to Manual Mode and dialed in between 1/8 to 1/4 power depending on the distance to the subject. There was a certain amount of “By guess & by golly” to dial in the proper power but, after the first 30 minute set, I felt pretty comfortable making adjustments “on the fly.” By midnight the troupe had performed 4 sets with 30-minute breaks between each set. In the future, I’ll use my cheap inexpensive LumoPro LP120 ($130, no longer available) because mechanical switches are much easier to adjust and re-adjust “on-the-fly.” The eagle-eyed will notice the flash cast harsh shadows but, I hope, judicious cropping and dodge/burn minimized them.

All photos were processed through LR4 but beyond Straighten/Crop, Levels/Saturation and minor Dodge/Burn, all these photos are pretty much SOOC (straight out of camera.) I ended up with about 24 keepers out of 167 frames, a 14% keeper rate so I can’t complain. Here are some more

HeadyHoop_web-118   HeadyHoop_web-114   HeadyHoop_web-113   HeadyHoop_web-102   HeadyHoop_web-120   HeadyHoop_web-109

Next time, I’ll post an article about the headshots WPG (Wickenburg Photography Group) did for the local police and fire departments. I’ll cover gear, set-up, posing and post-processing.

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6 Comments for this entry

  • Doug Gill

    Hi Lee, Enjoyed seeing your great photos. It does look like it was fun shoot. The pictures are very clear and movement is very sharp. Most of my night shots have been hand held, only because it is not convent to carry around a tripod and set it up. If I ever make it back to AZ, maybe would meet for shoot.

    • Lee

      Hi Doug,
      Another voice from the past! How’s the family?

      Yes, if you get to AZ, call me and we’ll set up a shoot.

  • Dick Schroeder

    The birds probably cost more to feed than they produce. The only way I can get an 800/5.6 is sell a Porsche 🙂

    • Lee

      No, don’t sell a Porsche! The only two things I regret selling are my 100-400/4.5-5.6L and my 85 911. Of course, towing the Porsche behind my RV might be problematic. 😉

  • Dick Schroeder

    Hi Lee, I enjoyed the lighting effects. Looks like a fun shoot. We enjoyed the Chihuly exhibit when we were in Phoenix as November. Intended to to return after dark but never got the chance. Did get some good shots during the day tho.

    • Lee

      Hi Dick,
      Thanks for the comment. How are your birds? Have they paid for an 800/5.6? 😉

      The Chihuly exhibit was a fun shoot. The ladies were great to work with and I got a chance to experiment with a lot of techniques that I don’t often use.

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