Skateboarding and Photography in Downtown Tampa After Dark

Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 by Rob

By Rob Meronek

My man Ryan Dodge is in town and staying with me for a couple days, so we decided to take this opportunity to try some new things with this pile of camera gear I have that I don't use nearly enough. We thought of a few ideas and hit the streets. Being barely amateur photographer status, I had no idea if what I was thinking would work, but it turns out we got pretty close. Below are a few photos of our attemts to capture some skateboarding in a little bit different way than usual.

This is Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. Things are dead here after the Captain Corporate crowd goes home at 5pm. There's not really enough traffic to create the light streak effect thing I was going for. This is a practice shot. Focal length: 10.5mm. F-Stop: 4, Shutter Speed: 4 seconds. ISO: 100.
Here's another test/learning shot with Derewenko skating by. Same exposure settings as above, but with a remote flash coming from the left to freeze the motion of Mike skating by. Now it's time to combine a skate trick with the scene from the previous photo.
Still on the same exposure settings here and just messing around with angles, flash intensity, and placement of the flash so it properly freezes the motion of Ryan Dodge's ollie. We're trying to time this with the stoplights so what little traffic downtown actually has is going by at the time of the snap. Those light streaks in the back are cars going by during the four seconds that the shutter is open.
We weren't out to be super serious with this. We were just having fun learning new stuff so we left it at this. There's a lot to be improved here, but this is basically the effect I envisioned before we set out to shoot this photo. Same exposure settings here except the F-Stop is 5 and the shutter speed is slowed down one second to 5 seconds. I figured that would allow at least a little more time for more of the light streak effects from the cars going by.
My next idea was to shoot a night photo with the remote flash from the deck of my pool, which is on the 8th floor of the Skypoint building downtown. First, we had to figure out if the remote flashes even work from that far away. Turns out they worked fine. Next, we had to coordinate a system for when Dodge would do the trick. In this case it's a backside tailslide on that bench at the Art Museum. Derwenko and I accomplished this on cell phones with each other for the general setup, then I fired the remote flash to give Dodge the signal that I was ready to snap the real photo. We had several test photos like this one at these exposure settings: Focal Length: 40mm. F-Stop: 5. Shutter Speed: half a second. ISO: 250.
This is a cropped version at the above exposure settings. It was super dark down there as seen from the 8th floor, so it was tough to get the focal point set, at least for an amateur like me.
This is the same shot at different exposure settings: Focal length: 55mm. F-Stop: 6.3. Shutter Speed: 3 seconds. ISO: 250. It's going to take a lot more messing around and some better lenses to get this to where I was envisioning it. Thanks for checking out the flicks. If you're a real photographer, I'd appreciate some tips in the comments.

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