Last week my photography assistant (aka girlfriend) and I went for a walk in Somo, (just the other side of the bay from Santander), and as we passed by a street skateboarding spot, we were lucky enough to photograph some young skateboarders in the bowl. If you have never seen skateboarding, what they usually do is take turns to do a couple of rounds through the skatepark and sometimes they even do it at the same time, in a row, like follow the leader.
Usually when you run into a photography opportunity like this you have the tendency to pick the camera up quickly and start shooting as if there was no tomorrow. However, I find that taking some time to observe what’s happening helps. The image below is a composition of about ten photos that I took just as we got to the skatepark; all of them handheld so I had to be careful not to move so it would be easier to align them all.
These three skateboarders were finishing their turns with a jump on the left part of the photo above where the sun was still hitting. The usual way to take pictures would be to stay at a point from where you can shoot with the sun behind you (or at one side).
However, you can also shoot into the sun.
So, we went to stand beside the wall shown on the left in the previous photo, just about five metres away from where they were jumping and I took the rest of the photos from there. In this case this was also important because from this point I could see their faces when they were jumping. Although the sun was getting low the white concrete skatepark worked as a reflector, so the skaters didn’t appear as just silhouettes in the pictures. To stop the motion and get sharp focus I tried to shoot not slower than 1/1000th, and I played a bit with the exposure compensation button to get more detail from the shadows of their clothes and faces.
I love what the light in the back adds to a photo, sometimes you can even see the particles of dust or hay floating in the air. Instead of having an empty room between you and your subject, backlight lights the air too, kind of giving an effect of filling in the air. After a while though, the sun hid itself behind some buildings and the backlight was over. However, that didn’t stop me of shooting as if there was no tomorrow.