After a long, cold January it was a real treat to be invited to one of many London locations that hosts the exciting Flying Fantastic Aerial Fitness school! What ensued was an afternoon of acrobatic artistry and the chance to photograph talented aerialists using the latest Olympus equipment.
The event was run by Olympus Ambassador Marcus Clackson, accompanied by Olympus guru Piotr who was on-hand to impart advanced technical advice and loan out Olympus cameras and lenses to test during the event.
As on all commercial photographic shoots, we began by deciding what results we wanted to achieve. As a group we discussed how best to capture the ambient mood of the location whilst getting a point of focus on our aerial models. We all agreed we wanted the artists to jump out and be the hero focus of our final photos.
Our aerial artists and models for the day, Joel and Maria, were ready to work through their repertoires of various aerial disciplines including silks, hoops and trapeze, each of which brought its own set of photographic considerations in order to capture the best results from each set up.
Flying Fantastic’s newest Peckham site was built with contemporary controllable lighting, which – along with house lights and funky coloured LEDs – provided a good starting point for lighting our artists in action.
While we had access to flash strobes, we decided this might have overwhelmed the subtle LED lighting that was in the background surrounding our models. In addition to this, we wanted the attendees to be able to shoot at the same time without having to rely on a single sync trigger for the flash strobes.
After deciding on lighting and the general direction of the shoot, it was time to talk lenses! We decided that the best route to freezing the models would be (where possible) to use fast lenses with F1.2 or F2.8 apertures. This would allow for a lower ISO (taking the available light in to account) of around 800, giving us shutter speeds of approximately 1/100 sec.
The fast & wide M.Zuiko PRO 17mm and 25mm F1.2 primes were a perfect match, in addition to the equally brilliant 7-14mm and 12-40mm F2.8. Choosing these lenses meant our aerialists would be sharp and fairly frozen in their moves whilst allowing the background to soften, taking focus off the distracting architecture of the location.
The fast focusing and improved stabilisation on the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X helped further to capture our moving subjects, especially when they performed faster swings and twists on the trapeze or silks.
One key thing to be aware of on commercial shoots with models and talent is communication and direction. When working with any model it’s important to be clear in your directions whilst being friendly in your communication. If you build a good rapport with the people you are working with, it translates into positive results through the final photographs.
After we were happy we had captured our basic portraits (with Marcus on-hand to offer advice), there was the chance to experiment further, playing with longer exposures to show movement and adding little bits of extra lighting to create sharper key light effects on the models’ faces.
It was a pleasure working with the group and everyone (including our aerialists Joel and Maria) spoke of a great fun atmosphere which definitely contributed to the success of the shoot.