German action photographer Michael Mueller enjoys a good challenge. His most stunning images are often shot in the wild, on a snowy alpine peak or, as in this case, on a steep mountainside in the Dolomites, Italy. This particular shoot involved a downhill skater rushing down the road at 100 km/h. But here is the worst part: the road was still open to the public. There were cars driving there. Yet Michael had to somehow capture the action and freeze the skater in time.
Apart from the practical hurdles that come with shooting skaters rushing down a trafficked road at 100 km/h, there were also some technical challenges. To overpower the strong ambient light, Michael needed a flash with a lot of power. To be able to freeze the action with absolute sharpness, he needed a flash that was fast both in terms of flash recycling and flash duration. Add to that the fact that Michael and his team had to shoot from the trunk of their minivan while driving in front of the downhill skater rushing forward. Bulky studio equipment was not an option. Neither were speedlights. There was only one option. “I don’t think it would’ve been possible to do this shoot with any other flash than the B1,” says Michael.
Michael and his team had to be creative. They attached two B1 Off- Camera Flashes to two stands and secured both flashes and stands with straps. They added Zoom Reflectors to get a bit more punch and to be able to better shape the light. Two assistants, holding one stand with a B1 each, got into the trunk and moved the stands and flashes in position. Michael lay down on his stomach and mounted an Air Remote in the hotshoe on his Phase One 645DF+ camera. The driver hit the gas, the downhill skater did his thing, and Michael got his shot.