Dan Coffey Bounces with Light

What do you get when you mix photography and trampolines? If you’re London-based photographer Dan Coffey, one awesome composite of all your friends in mid-air. Here’s his behind-the-scenes take on this fun, summer evening shoot.

Trampoline of Tremendousness ©2012 Dan Coffey

There’s something really cool about seeing people frozen mid-air, like time-lapse or slow-motion video, we’re seeing something captured our eyes can’t see normally. With this in mind, I set out to shoot a composite of a group of friends on my trampoline, all mid-action, in a way that would be impossible, or at least very dangerous, in real life.

Firing five strobes with just one PocketWizard. ©2012 Dan Coffey

Over a backyard BBQ, we shot various tests to find the best angle, time of day, how many lights I would need, and whether it was better to mount my lights and PocketWizard Plus II on a stand or have someone hold them and follow the jumper.

Following the jumper with the strobes. ©2012 Dan Coffey

In the end I settled on four lights: two shot through an umbrella to act as key light and two bare lights with blacks flags to create some separation. I attach the PocketWizard Plus II to the highest-powered speedlight and have all the others trigger optically.

The final set-up. ©2012 Dan Coffey

The final set-up by Dan Coffey.

Lighting diagram ©2012 Dan Coffey

With my friends dangerously jumping about and the evening light fading, it was great to know my lights would fire every time, no matter where I put my camera, whether line of sight was maintained or not. I even considered shooting the whole thing from the first floor of my house looking out over the garden (something I wouldn’t be comfortable doing with a less reliable radio trigger) but a tree was in the way!

Take a look at this quick video to see a time-lapse of the whole shoot:

So after a few near misses, I had a good selection of shots of each of my friends (and even our cat!) ready to composite into one image. The flexibility of the PocketWizard Plus II triggers let me move my lights around at the end of the shoot to get some background images of the bushes, softly illuminated, which made post-processing nice and easy.


Feeling inspired? See more of Dan’s work at dancoffeyphotography.com.

All images and video in this post are ©Dan Coffey, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or re-post elsewhere without written permission.

Bookmark and Share

2 Responses to “Dan Coffey Bounces with Light”

  1. Adam says:

    Hey this is really cool, and I great execution as well, and I love the inclusion of the cat!

    I have to wonder why you would to all of this great compositing, but leave the background the same?

    It would be different if you got it all in one take, but since everything is cut out anyway, why not swap it out for something else? Feels like an incomplete thought.

    Great work though, and I really enjoyed going through your portfolio!

  2. Dan Coffey says:

    Hi Adam,
    thanks for the kind words! I agree, our cat is the best bit!

    I had to comp us all together to avoid killing each other but changing the back ground just didn’t seem necessary, I suppose I also wanted to keep the shot based in our back garden as these are my friends and we enjoy many BBQs around the trampoline.

    For my next composite shot I’d like to interweave more interaction between the people. Perhaps I’ll swap out the background too!
    P.S. I like your portraits, particularly the strobes out on location