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Skating The Ramps With Platypod Max And MagMod

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a photo I selected for Photographer of the Day. It was of a skateboarder at a skate park, doing some tricks. Needless to say, I was inspired. I really had never tried to capture skateboarding in action, but I knew that with a few extra tools, I could do so in a unique and different way.

Enter the Platypod Max and MagMod system. I had recently purchased a complete MagMod set, and was really excited to try out some of the less-traditional tools for lighting a scene.

I talked to a local photographer friend, Cathy, and she offered her barn to me, which had a skate ramp inside of it. With my MagMod tools and Platypod Pro Max in hand, I prepped for a fun evening of shooting.

The Setup

Setting things up took a bit of tweaking at first. I used a 3-inch spigot adapter to attach a flash mount to my Platypod Pro Max. I connected my Nissin i60A flash to the flash mount, and then put a MagBeam with a MagBeam Wide Lens accessory on to it, as well as a teal-colored gel and pattern projector.

I placed the Platypod and flash setup on top of the ramp, in order to light the area surrounding Cathy’s husband, who was riding for us.

Photo by Cathy Seaver

I switched my flash to manual in order to get a higher output. I went with 1/2 power, which illuminated the room rather nicely with a teal-colored pattern.

With my Panasonic Lumix GH5, I went with AF-C focusing with a Tracking focus mode. This allowed me to follow Cathy’s husband as he rode up and down the ramp.

I used a high ISO, and shot with my wide angle lens at f/4.0.

With it being completely dark other than the flash output (and two small overhead lights opposite the ramp), my goal here wasn’t necessarily to capture Cathy’s husband in a picture-perfect way. Instead, it was to create a scene that had a nod to the skateboarding vibe.

You’ll notice some extra editing in the image above. This included taking down the highlights, boosting the black levels and changing the white balance slightly. This created a slightly faded, dark look…which is exactly what I was going for.

Taking it a Step Further

When Cathy took a crack at the technique, we decided to switch things up a bit, as she had access to multiple flashes.

We kept the Platypod setup the same, except changed out the pattern and switched the teal with a red gel. We decided to get some height with that and ultimately decided to hang the Platypod upside down on a beam in the barn. We used the strap that came with the Platypod Multi Accessory Kit for a tight and secure fit.

Additionally, I held a flash near where the Platypod originally sat on the ramp. This had a MagMod Grid on it, in order to help direct and narrow the light.

The result? We were not only able to light the background, but also Cathy’s husband. We could clearly see him and get the detail of his skateboard in the photograph.

Photo by Cathy Seaver

Conclusion

Without the Platypod Max, it would’ve been much trickier to get the low angle shots, and nearly impossible to get the shots with the flash mounted from overhead. And while the Platypod can get you some amazing angles — whether it’s securing a flash, camera or another piece of gear — a system like MagMod can help to elevate your photos to the next level and bring additional creativity into the mix. I’ll definitely be enjoying this combo for years to come!

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