location fitness shoot with Emma

Working on location with lights and a moving subject often needs lots of kit, but his location fitness shoot was done with just a couple of Speedlites.

I planned this shoot with Emma for a local camera club group. My aim was to enable several photographers to be able to create great looking lit action photos on location.

My plan was simple – I’d use what I had to hand, and what I could carry by myself. This meant careful selection of the lighting kit, it’s far too easy to simply take a lot of kit that is not always necessary. With a plan in hand it makes it much easier to cut down the amount you actually need to take.

I took my favoured Lastolite Ezybox Octa medium softbox, knowing it has a lovely light quality, with a broad spread of nice looking light. To fit lots of lights, and allow two photographers to shoot simultaneously I used the Lastolite quad bracket to mount four Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes.

behind the scenes on location fitness shoot with Emma

Behind-the-scenes, location fitness shoot

The main complication for this shoot was that I also needed to make it possible for folks who weren’t using Canon cameras to still work with the lights. I knew that a fully manual lighting setup would make it simple of different photographers to work on this shoot. Time to get the Yongnuo YN-E3-RT trigger and set it to legacy trigger mode by setting P.Fn 21 to 1. The trigger can then work with up to three groups of Canon RT series Speedlites in manual mode. I used a single group with two flashes linked to the Yongnuo transmitter, and then a second pair of flashes linked to the Canon ST-E3-RT for the Canon users.

With this setup we could identify a bit of the track where the light would be optimal for our subject. All that remained, was to capture her in the right spot, with good foot position, good expression and in-focus.

Initially we had the light lighting from the left of the frame – as in the BTS shot – but soon switched it to the other side. I also forgot to get a wide shot with the light in the final place.

Camera settings were universal too… 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 400, to ensures that all kinds of cameras and lens combinations could be used. One essential was to turn the continuous shooting mode off. There’s little time for the flashes to recycle, and it saves over heating the Speedlites. This means that you need a certain skill to anticipate the ideal moment to capture the action. I wasn’t always successful but achieved a promising result early on.

location fitness shoot with Emma

This early shot looked good, but feet could be better positioned

Emma is in full-flight with both feet off the ground, but the position means her right foot is not seen. The sun was setting to her right – camera left – giving some nice light behind her.

Another run or two later I had the shot I wanted – at the top of the post – with both feet visible, and off the ground. The light from the softbox is coming from the right of the frame and I took a low position and set my 24-70mm lens to 24mm.

location fitness shoot with Emma


Camera & settings

I always get a lot of questions about camera settings, so here you go…

  • EOS 5D Mark IV
  • EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM
  • Manual exposure 1/200s, f/5.6 ISO 400
  • Manual flash, 1/4 power. since there are two in the group, this is equivalent to 1/2 power on a single 600EX-RT or full power on a 430EX III-RT
  • Lastolite Ezybox Octa medium
  • Lastolite quad bracket.  you can use the twin bracket for just two flashes – I had two sets of two flashes in use
  • AI Servo AF, Zone AF area selection, AF Case 1

If I had been shooting this myself, and not setting it up so that others could shoot too, then I would have used two flashes and possibly chosen automatic E-TTL flash 😉




About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag