Recently Adam Kokot received a commendation in the 9th edition of National Geographic’s photo contest in Poland for the shot above. Red Bull Illume dropped him a line to chat about his recent bike shoots.
Can you tell us a bit more about the shot?
This shot captures Dawid Pietrzak jumping over the fountain on my hometown’s market square. I chose to take the photo at night because I wanted to only show the biker and water splash. The fountain is programmed to splash in various rhythms, so Dawid had got really wet before I took this particular photo! It was worth it though.
You’ve recently been shooting a lot of cycling… Difficult genre?
I think that if you don’t have a concrete vision of a photo, then every genre you start photographing can cause you trouble. I hadn’t photographed cyclists before but then I imagined the effect I wanted to get and I made it.
What did you have in mind?
I had been thinking about the cycling shots for quite a long time, but never really knew how to get to it. I knew I wanted the photos to be dynamic and preferably taken during sunset. I also knew that I wanted to use flash to freeze the cyclist and the speed to blur the background, so I planned to take the shots from a moving car.
Must have been tough to find the right road…
Yes, the main difficulty of the project was to find a properly long and straight road going from west to east. I live in the mountains, so long straight roads are unfortunately rare. What’s more, the road couldn’t be busy because when taking photos I put out the flash lamp on a stand and so occupy both lanes. Moreover, I had to perfectly synchronize the speed of the car with the cyclist’s speed, and at the same time watch out if any cars were coming from the opposite direction.
How did it all come together?
To take those photos I needed a driver and an assistant who would sit with me at the back of the car and operate the flash lamp properly. We made a test photo shoot to see if everything would work. During the first shoot I was using a speed-lite, which was not strong enough to achieve satisfactory effects. Thanks to the courtesy of Polish representative of broncolor, I got the broncolor Move power pack, which made my work much easier. The test photo shoot proved to be very useful, because I could find out what car speed is needed (50 km/h) and which camera settings to use so that the photos were interesting. The main photoshoot took place a couple of weeks after the test one as we waited for the perfect weather conditions.
How do you communicate with the athletes?
The cyclist was riding close enough for us to talk and thanks to the first test photo shoot we both knew exactly how to cooperate to achieve ideal effects.
What equipment did you use?
I used Canon 5D MK2. I photographed the cyclist with Canon lens 16-35 2.8 and the BMX biker with Canon 70-200 2.8 L. For the cyclist shots, shutter speed was 1/15 and ISO 100. With all the photos I used broncolor Move power pack with one MobiLED head. The flash was triggered remotely by the Phottix Odin flash trigger.
Want to see more?
Check out Adam's website here and his Facebook page here.