Shooting Rock Climbers With Studio Strobes

Tom Bol utilizes some extra tall light stands and generous amounts of sand bagging to get some studio strobes up on a wall with some rock climbers. Check out this behind the scenes video to see how easy it is to use studio strobes in an elevated situation like climbing.

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14 Comments

Interesting video but this seems like a rather awkward approach to rock climbing photography. His light setup is extremely static, and having a climber pose on the wall...that's just wrong. Speedlights are actually fine on the wall, who needs a wobbly light stand :) I was just waiting for that thing to fall over...

Keith Hammond's picture

yeah 24ft up with one sandbag,accident waiting to happen, does seem overkill, speedlights would have done just as good a job imho

Agreed... I shoot (shot... as now I live in Mongolia and there isn't much accessible climbing here) climbing photos with speed lights when i'm on a rope and have had pretty good success.. the big lights IMO are suitable for bouldering but these just seem a bit too posed for my liking.  Its cool going into it with some sort of concept but posed climbing photos never really do it for me.  Part of what makes climbing so interesting is the exposure are rawness of it.  I'l never be able to find it, but im pretty sure Keith Laszinski or Simon Carter (or someone...) did a really cool shoot at the Happy/Sad boulders in Bishop California using big lights at dawn... a bit more impressive to me.  If someone knows where these photos/video is i'd love to see it again!

Here are some of mine (you might have to peruse to find them... it has been awhile :P )

http://www.flickr.com/photos/35864279@N02/

Is this guy mad?! Climbing down a rock face with his lens poking straight out behind him. Thats just asking for trouble.

John Godwin's picture

Didn't really like how these were lit. Too harsh; too obvious. 

Seems like the guy just wanted to tackle the challenge of using studio lights on a rock face. No creativity or any reason to be using those. The girl isn't such a good climber either, probably just his daughter or something. Jonathan I like the one with the starry sky.
I took some myself in Fontainebleau (France): http://www.bramberkienfotografie.nl/?galerij=boulderen

Nice... cool angles Bram... and again, very raw. I think your work, in a few shots, captures the many aspects of climbing!

Light is to harsh, Blown highlights on the rocks makes for artificial light noticeable 
even for the non professional eye.
As for the posing...nothing much to add on that, the other comments say it all.
He did not balance ambient and strobes, that i think is the main reason for below average photos.

Wow you guys want some cheese with your whine?
I thought it was a cool excersise in lighting and showing off a manfrotto product

You are wrong, nothing about it can is cool! The idea is bad and the images are even worst.

Mike Folden's picture

I agree with everyone else here. The images just don't feel right and speedlights totally seem to work just fine for this type of stuff. This whole piece just didn't feel too quality. No hate but personally not impressed. 

Just say NO to comic sans.

I signed up for a location lighting workshop with Tom Bol in Boulder over the summer. The course randomly got cancelled and now the date is to be announced, but I'm pretty stoked to learn from him!