I love photographing gymnastics, as with dance, there is an artistic element in the gymnasts’ dynamic movements that creates great natural posing, combining the curves and straight lines. It also helps if the subjects are excited about doing the shoot which this group certainly were. You get a completely better set of images. Organising the team photos was fun, but when the girls took turns to work in self organised groups and pairs, before doing some individual shots with a red umbrella I had brought along to add colour and another dynamic to the images. It turned out to be an evening of a lot of fun, experimenting with arrangements and getting the best out of the gymnastic moves and forms they were proposing. I opted from the start to take advantage of the more static poses, the type the gymnasts would be expected to hold in competition, for technical reasons. On the whole the poses were the girls’ own choices particularly the individual ones. For the small group shots it was a collaboration between myself, the gymnasts and the coaches all helping in achieving the end result. Definitely learnt a thing or two from it… if nothing else a whole load of poses I can take away and use for other images :-) But certainly I got a lot more out of it.
One of things about gymnastics, as actions ‘usually’ happen in the same place each time there’s also the opportunity to set up lighting and use off camera flash, as opposed to on camera flash. But using off camera flash comes with it’s own set of technical difficulties. In the past I’ve used studio lights (Elinchrom BXRi 500’s) and you can see the results of using these here, but studio lights do have disadvantages – apart from being bulky to transport. This time round I wanted to see how effective speedlites were in creating the images and this was done using my older Canon speedlite 550EZ with a newer Canon speedlite 600EX-RT (I do not have a bottomless wallet) mounted on stands and triggered using PocketWizards (Plus IIIs). Thankfully they did, but PocketWizard Plus III’s although a lovely and very reliable bit of kit (it’s why I got them – to replace my original transmitters from Hahnel that became one too many times unreliable), the Plus III’s do not support any camera/flash interaction above triggering the flash. No TTL, high speed synchronisation or second curtain synchronisation. So that meant for this photo shoot I knew I could reliably get images that were 1/200 of a second or longer. Anything shorter in duration and I’d start to have problems with the second curtain.