Behind the Scenes with Tristan Shu

When photographer Tristan Shu got a chance to work with some of France’s best freestyle skiers, he knew he had to produce something spectacular. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Tristan created a meticulously timed image showcasing the skiers’ precision and skill. How did he do it? Read the account and see the video below to find out.

©2012 Tristan Shu

I triggered my flashes using a mix of PocketWizard FlexTT5’s, PowerST4’s, and Plus II’s.

©2012 Tristan Shu

I set my Canon 7D at 1/1000th, f/8, and ISO 250, using a FlexTT5 on top of the camera as the main trigger.

©2012 Andy Parant

Lighting the two riders in the middle of the pipe, I had my Elinchrom Ranger RX with an S head (slower head = longer flash duration = easier to hypersync), triggered with an ST4 receiver. I placed the flash head high up on top of a giant tripod with a grid. With the slower head and the ST4, I knew the light would cover the whole frame.

©2012 Andy Parant

On top of each wall, I used the remaining Ranger Packs with A Heads (faster head = shorter flash duration = limited HyperSync). At 1/1000th, I knew the light wouldn’t cover the whole frame, but because the riders were so high in the frame anyway, it wouldn’t matter. The packs were triggered with ST4, FlexTT5, and Plus II receivers using extension cords and dedicated tripods so they would be in line of sight with the FlexTT5 on top of my camera.

The surrounding snow and the two big, icy pipe walls, could weaken the signal so we had to give them the best chance possible to trigger reliably.

©2012 Andy Parant

© 2012 Andy Parant

I was one Ranger pack short for this shoot, so I used four Nikon SB80 Cobras to make up the difference. I had to place them as close as possible to the skier without being visible in the frame in order to compensate for their lower power levels. They were triggered by two PocketWizard Plus II’s with a mono stereo splitter and at max power for a slower flash duration.

It took us an hour and a half to set everything up with my assistant Maxime, but we knew exactly what we were after and any issues we might encounter. Once we started checking that all the flashes were triggering together, it only took us five minutes to be sure everything was reliably firing.

 

© 2012 Andy Parant

I don’t think this shot would have been possible without the PocketWizards. We relied on them heavily to get this shot and, as per their legendary reputation, we were working at the limit of their range and reliability.

They didn’t let us down and they sure contributed a lot to everyone’s smiles at the end of the shoot.

© 2012 Andy Parant

© 2012 Andy Parant

Check out more of Tristan Shu’s photography at his site and his Facebook page.

 

All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and are ©Tristan Shu and Andy Parant, all rights reserved. This story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or re-post elsewhere without written permission.

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