Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn - Sports Illustrated

The Winter Olympics in Whistler have just drawn to a close

Last June I was fortunate enough to be commissioned by 'Sports Illustrated' to shoot a feature on World Champion Ski Racer Lindsey Vonn during her training programme in Salzburg, Austria for a feature in their Winter Olympic Edition

The most successful American Woman Skier in history

The brief was to shoot her while she was training and some portraits too

This was a really great gig for me and needless to say I wanted it to go WELL

In a situation like this the most important factor has nothing to do with equipment but it is the human factor, just how co operative is the subject going to be in the middle of an arduous, focused training programme?

Well, the moment I met Lindsey and her trainers I knew all was going to be just fine.

Lindsey is a really kind, warm, friendly and open person and she made the job in hand easy by being super co operative even though she was training a zillion hours a day

The first part of the shoot was following her and her trainers (from the comfort of a chase car!) on a long and tough (for you and I!) cycle ride through the Alps. It went on for hours....

I was getting some good shots during this but in the back of my mind I was focused on the location for a top class portrait

This process started the week before though as I had asked the crew at Red Bull to suggest some suitable locations and to send some shots of the locations to me, which they did

On a shoot like this you need all the help you can get and local knowledge is invaluable

And they suggested the peak of a nearby mountain

I say nearby but it involved a bit of a mission

I had to check it out, set my lights up and then wait with fingers crossed as it involved a dash by Lindsey to make the very last cable car of the day to the top of the mountain....which was also the very last cable car DOWN the mountain leaving just 30 mins to get the shot!

So I pre lit the shot using passing tourists

Ask nicely and tell them that they are being a stand in for a World Champion skier and you would be surprised how many agree! After all we all want to be part of something don't we?

I lit both the leaping shot and the alpine portrait pic with my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra

On an assignment like this when I'm working alone with no assistant and having to carry all of the gear myself it is a superb little light, packing a very respectable punch

When travelling light I use one of my favourite light stands

The Manfrotto 001b (It seems to have been superseded or renamed the 5001 or but it looks to be much the same)

It is one of the most affordable light stands made by Manfrotto and it is so versatile.

It folds down to 19 inches long which means it fits diagonally inside my carry on baggage

And though I'm unsure of its official load bearing spec I have put some quite silly loads on it which I'm sure would make Manfrotto wince. The stand seems to be 'keener' to flex than fall over. Unscientific on my part but it works for me. I have this light stand with me on my huge productions too, it has the knack of being the tool for the job on more occasions than I can recall

I used a Chimera Medium soft box (which you can see on my pre lighting shots)

Regular readers of the blog will know just how important this softbox is to the look and feel of my work

I shot the whole job on my Canon 5d Mk2 which I Love, Love, Love.

It delivers so much in such a small package, saving my poor old back

The Portraits on my 24/105mm Canon 'L' Series and the leaping shot on my Canon 'L' series 70/200 F4

Th light weight zooms perfect for my travels

Lindsey fought off a nasty injury she sustained prior to the Winter Olympics to win a Gold medal in the Women's downhill, becoming the first American woman to do so, she also won a bronze in the Women's Super G.

Richly deserved


JR said...

Lovely pics Drew-and I think you could be onto something with the passing tourists shots... like that guy on the scottish borders wearing full gear and bagpipes and earning his living selling photos alongside passers-by :-)

ikuma said...

Awesome portraits as usual.
Couldn't agree more on the quadra's benefits when packing light, and combined with those manfrotto lightstands which I use as well, I don't think there's any way of going lighter with packs. The quadras, manfrottos 5D2 with three lenses have become my standard gear in my backpacfor most of my shoots, its almost perfect. I just need to replace the umbrellaboxes I currently use with a collapsible lightweight softbox... did you use the quadra adaptor from elinchrom to mount the chimera softbox?

Glyn Dewis said...

Hi Drew,

Great post, and thanks too for the information on the kit. I've been 'toying' with the idea of purchasing the Quadra mainly for it's size, lightness and obvious portability and now I've that much closer to making the move. The only thing I'm in a hesitant about is the W/S. Currently taking an AB1600 on location when it's needed which does the job fine I guess, but certainly negates the need to go to the gym at the end of the day :o)

Beautiful portraits Drew, thanks for sharing.
Maybe see you at Focus if you're around.


Unknown said...

HeY John

Brilliant to hear from you!

Thank you for your kind comments, lets meet up soon

Pete tells me you are doing well

I learnt so much from you

You deserve it



Unknown said...

Hi Moop

Thank you for your comments, pleased you like the pics

I agree, the Quadra/5d Mk2/001b's make for a killer light weight combo

Ditch the brolly for a softbox soonest mate, if your brolly blows over that is the end of the shoot, they always break when they fall.

I now use the Elinchrom adaptor to mount my Chimera on my Quadra. Much better than the elastic band combo I used for the Vonn shoot.... :)



Unknown said...

Hi Glyn

Thank you for the compliments

Check out the Quadra at Focus...I use it a lot these days, with the added bonus of the LED modelling light which is great for video work with the 5dmk2

Hopefully see you and have a chatter at Focus



Unknown said...

Very nice shots, especially the first portrait and the jump.
just one question: why not an elinchrom softbox?

Unknown said...

Wow, those are really great...

Unknown said...

Hi Francis

Thank you for the comments

The first shot is my favourite

Very 'Her'

Why Chimera and not Elinchrom?

Well it is all about personal preference, Elincrom boxes are just fine but I use Chimera because they are simply the best softboxes that money can buy.

Hand built and stitched in the United States they are all but bullet proof, my oldest one is 15 years old and has received the type of abuse you cannot imagine. Adjustable and versatile too

Give me a Medium Chimera and I can do just about anything with it.....



Unknown said...

Thank you Francis

It was a dream assignment

I had to pinch myself to believe I had the gig


Spencer said...

Hi Drew,

Been following your work for a while now, very inspirational, so thank you for that.

Where were these taken?


Unknown said...

Hi Spencer

Thank you very much for that, its good to know when people 'get' my work

The pics were shot in Salzburg, Austria



Unknown said...

Great story and after watching the olympics and Lindsay this post was so good to read.

I will be at Focus on imaging next week wednesday i think, would like to meet you again (last met at strobist london).

if not still enjoy reading your blog,

many regards


Unknown said...

Hi Rich

Thank you for your comments

I will be at Focus on Wednesday...see you there!



M. Christopher Holloway said...

Thanks Drew, for sharing your story here and these wonderful images of Lindsey. I've been a follower since I saw your Kosovo story post from 2008. I am amazed at the quality of the images. But not just technically, but her expressions. It can't be location and lighting only. If you have a moment will you please share a bit about your interactions leading up to these incredible images? That is a part of photography I've been most fascinated with.

Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Hi Christopher

Thank you very much for your comment

Very perceptive of you, we had a good chatter about her and her husband coming to Wimbledon to watch the tennis and I suggested a few spots along the Thames she might like to check out.

In my opinion photography is only around 5 percent of the equation



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