Did you know that using Profoto flashes with a Phase One camera allows you to shoot with flash sync speeds as fast as 1/1600s? Tim Kemple certainly knows it. And he has used that knowledge to create some pretty amazing action shots. Keep reading and learn how.
Tim Kemple got into photography almost by accident. Back in the days, he and his friends were into rock climbing and skiing. They travelled all over the US and even crossed the Atlantic to live out their passion. After doing so for a while, Tim realized that they should probably document their extravagant trips. So he picked up a camera, started shooting his friends in action, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and Tim is a sought-after sports and action photographer. But the things he learned back then is as useful today as it was then.
“When you’re on a shoot and the athlete realizes that you actually get what they’re doing, everything changes,” he says. “At that point the shoot becomes a collaboration. They get inspired to elevate what they do, jump higher or run faster or whatever it may be, which in turn inspires you as a photographer to elevate what you do.”
Unlike many other outdoors sports photographers, Tim does not only light the model or the athlete. In his opinion it is often just as important to light the environment he or she is in.
“I find that to bring the environment to life, to make it look three-dimensional, you need to use lighting and shape the landscape. Usually I try to light the subject about two stops brighter than the environment. I don’t want the effect to be too extreme or too obvious. When you’re in such a beautiful environment, it feels weird to me to have your subject looks almost alienated from it.”
Tim’s style of photography puts certain demands on his equipment. Shooting on location means that he needs battery-powered tools that can take a beating. The fact that he shoots fast sports in the harsh sun means that he needs speed and power.
“To be able to shoot the athlete as part of a larger environment you have to place your flashes quite far away from the action,” says Tim. “To do so you have to have a powerful flash. In addition, I want to be able to use the Light Shaping Tools. I usually pick something to soften the light and make it look more natural. But again, if you going to bounce and diffuse the light, you’re going to need power – lots of it.”
All the mountain bike images you see here were shot with the Profoto Pro-B4 battery pack. Recycling in 0.03-0.99s and capable of blasting up to 1.000Ws of light, the Pro-B4 provides Tim with the speed and power he needs.
“Like I said, I often place my lights quite far away, sometimes even up in a tree of down the bottom of a half pipe, so being able to control them wirelessly from the camera is a huge timesaver,” says Tim.
Speaking of camera, Tim was actually one of the first photographers in the world to shoot with the new IQ250 digital back when he shot these images.
“Phase One approached me and said: look, here is a new camera. What would you love to do with it that you couldn’t do before? Come up with a cool concept and shoot it! So, I called two good friends of mine: Kyle Strait and Tyler McCaul. Kyle had just won Red Bull Rampage, which is like the biggest downhill mountain biking event in the world, and Tyler, well, he’s on top of his game too, to say the least.”
The same Phase One camera was also used to shoot the jogger in Sydney. But for this shoot the powerful Pro-B4 packs were replaced with two lighter B1 off-camera flashes.
“The Sydney shoot wasn’t planned,” says Tim. “I was actually there for another assignment. I just had this impulse to shoot the iconic Sydney skyline, plus one of the girls on the team kept talking about how she wanted to go running. So, we rented some B1s, packed the gear in our backpacks, took the subway to this beautiful location and shot some cool running photos!”
During both the mountain bike shoot and the Sydney shoot, Tim utilized a solution that is unique for Profoto and Phase One, namely the extremely fast flash sync speed that the Profoto Air system and the Schneider Kreuznach leaf shutter lenses allows for. With this combo, Tim was able to use flash sync speeds down to 1/1.600 second. Needless to say, this resulted in sharper images and a lot less struggle to overpower the sun with the flashes.
“I love how everything is just built into the B1,” says Tim. “Before, I had sync cables that for some reason stopped working. I had radio transmitters malfunctioning. I forgot things at home. Pretty much anything you can imagine has happened to me one or several times. So, the fact that all these things are now built into to the B1 means that there are less things that can go wrong, which means that the likelihood of me getting the shot I need is higher, which means I’m way more likely to get hired again. In the end, that’s what really counts.”
See more of Tim’s images at his website.