The training wheels came off and everything came together for this shot, right up until it didn't.

Coincidentally, I had just recently read this article which describes how a pro photographer would deconstruct a lighting scheme like the one used to make this magazine cover photo at the left (by Patrik Giardino) and use it to inspire his own work. As I surveyed the scene, I couldn't believe how the situation I was finding myself in was so similar to the one described by the original Strobist, David Hobby, on how he would have gone about shooting this photo:

  • bike - check
  • professional cyclist - check
  • closed road - no, but cul-de-sac - check
  • sunlight behind me as I faced down the road at the bike(r) to help fill/light his face - check
  • space to camera right to put my flash/lightstand in the middle of the road where it would impede traffic - check
  • rusty, thin steel newspaperbox post to camera left onto which I could clamp the second flash because I only have one lightstand - check!

  • I ran through a few test shots to get the flashes aimed correctly, only having to move everything once for a passing motorist, and I was ready to shoot. I pre-focused on the lightstand/flash in the middle of the road since it was the same distance from the camera as the biker when he rode in between the flashes, then tried to pick a spot on the road as a marker to take the picture when his tire got there. I couldn't find one, so I relied on a VAT (voice-activated trigger, my wife in this case) to tell me when to shoot. By the time I got my timing right, the sun behind me had set below the tree line, creating this huge dark shadow in the road and erasing my face/fill light. Ahhh, timing is everything, especially obvious when you don't have it!

    I still like the outcome, but the no-sunlight-left-in-the-day-for-on-axis-fill shot I ended up with had a totally different (and much more dramatic) look than what I started out going for, since he and the bike are only lit by the flashes. You can see the dark line down the middle of his face and legs where the flashes didn't light and the sun was unavailable for lighting, but I kinda like it that way.
    Strobist info: SB-600 to camera right and SB-25 to camera left, 3 feet away and about shoulder high pointing at each other, both on 1/8 power zoomed to 70mm and aimed slightly upward to avoid spilling light onto the road.