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Random Musings Capoeira Photo Shoot
(Entered Jan. 11, 2010)
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Wanting to take my photography to the next level I asked Santa for an SB600 (strobe) for Christmas and he kindly delivered (thanks Kumi!). Having one in hand doesn't mean knowing how to use it however, as I soon found out. If you think good photography isn't easy, (and it isn't) I estimate the difficulty level rises by a factor of 10 when you're using flashes. Or maybe I'm just saying that as a total beginner when it comes to manipulating light. Either way, there is a lot to take into consideration, and I've got a lot to learn.
To help me on that path, I met up with Irwin Wong of, who teaches weekly photography workshops here in Tokyo. Also joining me were about 10 liked-minded photography enthusiasts.
Our two 'models' for today were PJ and Shingo, both amazingly talented capoeira practitioners, and the location was Komazawa Park.

capoeira pj flying kick

So why use a flash at all? Even more so, why use it outdoors on a sunny day? Natural light does have its own charm of course, but it's sometimes very useful to have light coming from two, or even three directions, instead of just one. Using strobes and lightstands, you can get some awesome 'stop motion' effects.

capoeira pj hands only

PJ demostrates some capoeira moves. Here (above and below), an SB900 on a lightstand was set up facing the sun so that light was coming in from two directions; in front (strobe) and behind (sun). Without it, PJs face and front would've been very underexposed.

capoeira pj one arm

The photography session lasted 4 hours, and with 10 or so photographers, and only two subjects and two light stands, we had to take turns shooting. This meant that PJ and Shingo were doing flying kicks, flips, handstands, etc., almost non stop the whole time, each of us wanting them to repeat their moves over and over again. Both of them kept up with our demands no problem though.

capoeira pj one hand

We eventually split into groups of two, each group taking one light stand and one model.

capoeira shingo jumping kick

Shingo didn't speak much English, but we learned that he'd studied karate for 20 years before switching to capoeira and dance, which he's studied for another 10.

capoeira shingo legs up

Later on we experimented with the strobes in a darker environment.
If you haven't been living under a rock, you'll probably know what capoeira is. If you have however, a general way to describe it is that it's an African-Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, dance and music together.

capoeira pj kick

This time, we had two strobes going off on both sides of Shingo and PJ.

capoeira shinog flying kick

As the day wore on, people started to move around more and some of the photographers would take Shingo and PJ off for short times to different locations. I convinced Adrian, one of the photographers who I met there, who is also a fan of haikyo, and who has done a haikyo with MJG before, to do some bboying for the camera, what laypeople would call breakdancing.

capoeira adrian breaking

He was pretty damn impressive, maybe as much so as PJ and Shingo!

capoeira adrian breaking

I think maybe my best shots of the day were of Adrian, which is kind of ironic as he wasn't even one of the hired models.

capoeira adrian breaking

All in all I had a great time. Not only did I meet some new people and learn more about strobes and how to use them, I realized how much more versatile they are compared to regular light. I'm pretty sure I only scratched the surface today, can't wait for the next time!



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