For the past 3 years, I've assisted in decorating a bulletin board in the entryway of my daughter's gym. Each team level gets a portion of the board and each gymnast is featured with a cute portrait of themselves and perhaps a group portrait with their coaches. It has since become somewhat of an art project for me and also allows me to showcase their personalities, talents, and skills. This year my inspiration came from an amazing photo shoot by BYU Photo department - Water Gymnastics.
The issues I had to deal with were these. 1. Location - I didn't have access to an indoor pool 2. Budget - I don't have the coffers of a full college photography department. 3. Weather - it was going to have to be an outdoor shoot 4. Safety - I didn't want any of these young gymnasts to get hurt right before the start of the new season.
Here is the inital test set up.
As you can see, a landscape shot would require a lot of post processing to fill in all the junk on either side. The tarp had to be higher too since these girls can jump! My lights Alien Bees b800 Martian Pink were shedding too much light. I needed barn doors to control the spill on both the backdrop and into the lens. A gym mat was placed under the tarp to protect the gymnasts when they jumped. Landing on hard concrete on wet plastic would have been a recipe for disaster. Towels, pool noodles, and boogie boards under the tarp helped form a thin pool of water under their feet.
Here's the final set up. There's still some light spilling onto the backdrop and slight lens flare. This is due to the space constraints I had and cheap barn doors that aren't designed properly but nothing I couldn't fix in post-processing. The tarp was still not high enough but adding to the image's canvas was easy enough since the outer edges are black. All in all, setup took about an hour and breakdown even quicker with some helpful parents. After several hours of post-processing, burning, sharpening, cloning, filling, and erasing, I think we've created unique portraits that illustrates the explosiveness, strength, and form of these talented young ladies. Thank you to the Level 8/9 gymnasts and their parents for enduring a cold and wet concept portrait shoot on your only day off!!