Sunday, March 31, 2013

Flash Photography in the Fitness Center



Lisa Cvach asked me recently if I’d do some photographs for publicity for the Paradise Valley Community College Fitness Center.  I was happy to help out.  If the fitness center was a corporate client, I would have charged of course.  I mean, you wouldn’t ask your car repair guy or medical doctor for free services; I get that.  But this is to help out colleagues at my college.  Plus, darn it, it’s work sure, but it’s fun! 

When I walked into the fitness center I noticed Lisa trying to take photos using a small point and shoot camera.  What she said to me was pretty important.  “How do you get the background to blur?”  That’s why I’m glad I took my flash with me. 

My models this day are Fred from the fitness center and Shay.  Now, look at Shay.  The pressure is on me not to make her look bad.  Sorry Fred but Shay is the star of this shoot!


My camera body is the Canon 5D Mark III, using a 24-105mm Canon “L” lens and the new Canon 600ex-rt flash.  Shooting without flash under fluorescent light could be done, but with a much higher ISO and more grain.  I wanted to use flash to highlight the subjects and to darken the background some.  To make sure I had a fairly dark background, I used a shutter speed of 1/125 and faster.  Plus, I used Lightroom 4 in post production and could brush a darker exposure around the background, as you’ll see in many of the examples here and in the slideshow at the bottom of the blog. 

I shot everything in manual mode.  For some shots, I used direct flash and turned down the power; for others, I used modified flash using a simple white card to reflect for softer light. 

For the panorama of the fitness center, I took seven photos vertically set to aperture priority and available light, then combined them in Photoshop CS6, then I applied HDR (high dynamic range) toning to produce the effect you see in the photo at the top of the blog. 

Happy Shooting!

Jim Patterson

…And, here are all the photos from the fitness center shoot!