I am in the process of writing a new book (it seems like I am always writing something). The subject of the book is the Nikon Creative Lighting System and using small flash. The full title is Mastering Nikon Speedlights: A Complete Guide to Small Flash Photography and the Creative Lighting System and it will be available later this year. One function of certain Nikon Speedlights is the Repeat mode (RPT) where the flash fires multiple times during a single exposure. The really fun part is that the SB-800, SB-900 and SB-910 can trigger multiple off camera flashes in this mode. All the remote flashes then fire multiple times during the single frame. This is not something that you will use often but when you do, it’s pretty awesome.
I really wanted to get a great example of this for the new book, but to get something interesting, you need a subject that moves from point A to point B in an interesting way during the exposure. That’s when Jennifer Curry Wingrove came to mind. Jennifer is not only the owner of her own Pilates studio Pilates On Park, she is the owner of Wingrove Studios Presents and is currently working on presenting a show for the San Diego FRINGE Festival this summer. Jennifer is a very talented dancer and I thought that it would be great to have her as a model for this shot. We originally met during a shoot where she was modeling for Joe McNally, and have kept in contact ever since. You can read about that shoot over on Joe’s Blog HERE. I had actually photographed her for another section of the book last year but this just seemed perfect for her talents.
Jennifer loved the idea but decided that just moving across the ground wasn’t going to cut it. You see, Jennifer is one of those insane people who works with silks as an aerialist. She has no problem climbing high up above the floor supported just by some lengths of material. So the plan was modified…. instead of moving from left to right across the frame during the exposure, Jennifer would begin high up the silk at the roof and drop down the silk in a series of twists and turns. To make this even more insane (or impressive) she would have to do it in complete darkness except for the strobe like bursts coming from the three SB-800 off to the side.
Here is Jennifer getting ready to climb the silks. It takes an incredible amount of strength, skill, training and stamina to climb the silks and control the drops. This also meant that we needed to make sure we were as close to the final setup as possible before Jennifer had to climb and drop.
The setup was three SB-800 speed lights zoomed to 105mm attached to a light stand using Justin clamps and Rogue Flashbender Bounce Cards as flags to stop the spill of light from reaching the camera position. Then it was just a matter of working out the math and setting the commander (in this case the SB-910) to trigger the remote SB-800s.
It turns out that the exposure needed to be about 2.5 seconds and I wanted the flash to fire 8 times during the exposure. Then it was time to turn out all the lights, have Jennifer get in position and count to three and take the photo. We took a total of five exposures, but really got the best result on take 3.
It takes a special kind of person to suspend themselves from the ceiling and drop down the length of silk in the dark while multiple flashes are going off to their side. A huge thanks goes out to Jennifer for working with me on this. I also need to thank the other performers who were practicing in the space and ended up helping with holding the silks and controlling the lights. The shoot took place at the Aerial Revolution studio here in San Diego. The have a crazy cool setup and if you want to learn how to do this stuff, check them out. If you can believe it, Jennifer also teaches there.
Photo taken with the Nikon D4 and 24-70mm f/2.8 with the SB-910 as a Commander in Repeat mode with 3 x SB-800 as the remote lights.