Eric Lee is here weekly to write to you about DIY photography and cinematography. Straight out of high school, Eric is sharing his ways hoping to learn from his readers as well, only hoping to get better every day.
My friend Harrison loves to skate; he works part time at Homage, over on Smith and Bergen Street. I’m surprised they even have a cafe on the side. For those who don’t know what Homage is, it’s a skate/snowboard shop that sells clothes, decks, trucks, sneakers, and snowboard gear. They even have a team that competes and sponsor riders. Capturing dancer’s is similar to freezing skateboarders and other sports, but with skateboarding the peaks of interest happen so much quicker and more subtle. I found myself shooting Harrison a lot lately, we go to the Chelsea skate park or anywhere with a ledge. But with every single type of photography, certain things get boring after a while. A kick flip ends up just being another kick flip and an ollie is just another ollie. Linking this back to my composition post, angles are really important in shooting skateboarding. Framing your shot and illuminating your subject is very important. You also have to catch the right moment. If I shoot a boarder and his board isn’t in the right angle for the trick, I will probably throw it out. Timing again is the most important ingredient in this type of photography.
Photography by Eric Lee
I took this photo at the Tribeca skate park. This “guy in the red shirt” was killing it that day. I asked him if it would be cool to photograph as he was just messing around. I do this because some people don’t like being photographed. The child in the background watches the high flying and gliding on rails that these skateboarders were performing. The stuy park in the background as well with the clouds add such character to the photo. The “Red Shirt guy” was about to 50-50 this ledge. He kept candle sticks in the bushes for lubrication. He was nailing tricks and I asked to shoot him. You may remember he’s the guy jumping over me in the ledge (in the other post). I prefocused to the area in which he was going to engage the ledge. I had watched him do this a couple of times. It’s most likely you’re camera won’t auto focus that quick to follow the subject. You can use Dynamic Area or 3D tracking when AF, but I sometimes prefer manual focus. Read this to learn what the terms above mean. You can bump your ISO to around 1000 - 1600 so you can have your shutter be high. But on sunny days with fast lenses you won’t need to. Don’t shoot too low on your aperture because most lenses are a bit softer around the edges. Go up to around f/5.6.
Silly enough I asked this guy to jump in the bowl with him while he was popping grabs off the walls.
photography by Eric Lee
Try to pan with your subject when shooting. This will train your eye and finger to shoot when the subject is doing something interesting. Also shooting various focal lengths changes up the game. Sometimes it’s nice to shoot tight, but shooting wide can be interesting; catching the jump they just came off of, or the surrounding area. I don’t have pro lights and flashes, but I’ve been watching a lot of this group called Fstoppers. They create photography videos. This has been one of my most favorite photography videos yet because it’s perfect to explain my message to you guys.
One aspect of videoing skateboarding, is angle, but also keeping up with the action. Most likely you won’t be able to look at your LCD screen in live view and the action going on. It’s probably better to shoot wide and not tight. You will want to follow the action with your hands and your eyes; glancing to make sure you shooting the action, not the air. Get a stabilizer so your hands don’t shake erratically. I took this video near the Bowling Green Station in Manhattan. There was this 6 step stair case and my friend Harrison wanted to clear it. (Be warned, he moons the camera). I decided to jump down the stairs along side Harrison as he cleared the steps. Instead of running, a lot of skaters will be followed by videographers on bicycles. Here’s the video. Following the action gives a nice perspective for the viewer to watch the entire trick be done. You’ll see many skateboard videos with the fisheye lens, or super wide angle. This lens is mean to distort it’s image with a convex front element. It’s used more so for the art that anything else.
You can do so much with photographing action sports. Angles and composition make shots stand out compared to others. Watch this video, “SHOOT ALL SKATERS.” Just something so interesting to his method and angles.
Secret Assignment #5
Shoot skaters and make it interesting. Catch them on a rail, in the bowl, or just catching some air!
Eric Lee is a young Brooklyn based artist. Fresh from high school and moving on to college, Eric is writing about his experiences as the young cinematographer and photographer he is today.