by Derek Adams Published 01/02/2014
To be honest I'm not the sort of person who would normally set foot in a gym, I agree with Oscar Wilde's advice: "Whenever I feel like exercise, I always lie down until the feeling passes". Three times in the last year or so, however, I found myself in the gym giving my 'quads' a workout, that's Quadras and speedlights to be precise.
The first shoot was almost an accident; I was on a fashion shoot in France and the house we were all staying in had its own private gym. One of the models, Emily, asked if I would take some photos of her in the gym; she wanted to look 'Fit, rather than sexy'; I feel I may have let her down on the second part of the brief!
We gave the gym a quick recce the day before we were to shoot in it, there were several pieces of equipment and a punch bag in what was quite a small room. Emily was keen on doing a boxer shot with the punch bag, but there were no boxing gloves to be found, so we picked up some bandages from a pharmacy in the nearby town and wrapped them round her hands to great effect.
I envisaged a shot with a gritty noir 'Could have been a contender' feel: grainy, black and white. I set up one of the Elinchrom Quadra heads to the left of the model, with an 18cm reflector and a honeycomb grid as a main light, to give a spot effect and throw the background into darkness. A second Quadra head slightly to the right of the camera, with a 40x40cm Portalite soft-box acted as a fill light, a piece of black velvet draped over one third of the soft-box to make it more of a strip light and flag the right-hand side of the picture so that the light didn't hit the wall to the right of the punch bag. I used a Nikon SB26 Speedlight in slave mode behind and to the right of the model as a hair light/kicker. The final touch to the photo was added in post; after converting to black and white in Photoshop, I ran the SilverFX 'Film Noir' preset at 50% opacity to keep some of the original detail.
Moving on to a piece of the gym equipment for the second shot, I used one Quadra head with the soft-box to the right and a Lastolite reflector on the left, to give a natural light look. In post I used Nik Color FX to add some grain and the cross-processing filter to add some green to the image to match the colour of Emily's eyes and the gym equipment.
The last shot from this session shows Emily working her biceps with a dumbell. I lit this using a soft-box at 45 degrees to the right as the main light. I placed the Quadra head with reflector and honeycomb slightly behind the model on the left, to highlight her cheek and breasts. I then added the speedlight behind her, high up to the right as a hair light. A bit of warmth and some grain was added in post production.
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