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Ambassadors Programme

Ambassador

Richard Walch

Apr02

LED light painting with a BMX and the EOS 5DS

By Richard Walch, Thursday April 02, 2015
A BMX LED light painting image taken with a Canon EOS 5DS. Rider: Rob Alton. LED tech by Jochen Lejcar.

A BMX LED light painting image taken with a Canon EOS 5DS. Rider: Rob Alton. LED tech by Jochen Lejcar. © Richard Walch

For the recent Professional Imaging days in Nijkerk, The Netherlands, I met up with Rob Alton and Jochen Lejcar. Our mission was to set up an inspiring workshop for 15 photographers. Rob is a former BMX Flatland World Champion and Jochen is a very talented technician. Jochen transformed a BMX bike into a very powerful light painting tool. Not only did he stick about 2000 LED lights to a BMX but he also found a way to wirelessly change the colour of the LED lights while Rob was performing his stunts. If you ask me, that stands out... and big repect to Jochen because his LED decorated bike performed without any failure.

For Rob the challenge was very hard because we asked him to ride in almost complete darkness and, on top of that, we had to 'nuke' his eyes with two powerful flashes. Since Rob tours shows all over the world with his bike he could handle this challenging situation. I had the chance to try out the new Canon EOS 5DS as well as the new EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens; both were perfect for the assignment. The amount of detail you can see in the image files when shooting with a 50 Megapixel sensor was outstanding.

Since the new camera is a part of the 5D family I could go into the shoot without any practice and felt at home [using the camera] from the beginning. Our challenge was to make the BMX bike visible in the image. I decided to use two Profoto B4 flashes equipped with a magnum reflector and a telezoom reflector with grids. During the workshop two students were pointing the flash on the front and back of Rob. But how best to synchronise the flashes with the camera? Well, completely manually was the solution.

I put the camera on a tripod. As soon as Rob rode into the frame I triggered the camera in Bulb mode with a cable trigger and locked the trigger. Then Rob did about two or three 360 degree spins with his bike... as soon as his upper body was in the perfect position, during the third spin, I triggered the flash manually with the Air Remote control from Profoto. Then I let the bulb go and ended the long exposure of the camera. With both hands I was able to completely control the settings in the most simple way – that is the secret... sometimes the simple way is the very best way.

During the second part of the workshop I positioned the camera on the balcony of the room so that Rob could use the complete room for his run. The difficulty was that Rob could not cross the section of the room where I had planned for him to perform the final trick – because then the trail of light would have blocked his body.

But, thanks to the great team, we did a very interesting light painting project!

A BMX LED light painting image taken with a Canon EOS 5DS. Rider: Rob Alton. LED tech by Jochen Lejcar.

A BMX LED light painting image taken with a Canon EOS 5DS. Rider: Rob Alton. LED tech by Jochen Lejcar. © Richard Walch

The workshop crew of the BMX LED light painting session with Canon Ambassador Richard Walch (third right, front row).

The workshop crew of the BMX LED light painting session with Canon Ambassador Richard Walch (third right, front row). © Richard Walch