With Cable in Hand

With Cable in Hand


For the last few years I’ve had an itch to shoot action sports again. When I first got my hands on a camera I remember running around filming home made skate videos back on VHS-C tapes. Bleck. Our town has little to offer in the way of extreme sports so I just put the desire off to the side and kept doing what I do. That is until I ran into Quinn one day at Wal-Mart.

Quinn and I weren’t strangers, we met in college and went through the Mass Media program together, and quickly caught up in the aisle. He and his friend Luke had opened a wake compound here in town. A lightbulb went off in my head, “here is my chance.” So with their permission I jumped on the opportunity to hang out with them again and film them while they rode for a few hours.

Wake_01                                   wake_03

I knew I wanted to take a slightly different approach with this video then the typical skate style videos you watch. I didn’t want to showcase only how well they could do tricks but to also put their story behind it. These guys are building an environment our town has needed for a long time and our town should know who they are and not just what they can do.

Our shooting schedule ended up being broken into two days; the first was interviews with Quinn and Luke. We also filmed them and a few other guys riding solo the first day. This was awesome cause it allowed us to be a little more free and intimate with our shots. The second day we filmed the Valdosta Wake Compound (VWC) Water Wars. Basically this was a friendly competition with riders from all over, and it did not disappoint. There were kids 1/3 of my age who could literally ride circles around me, I was slightly jealous.


I’m going to admit something here, filming this was extremely difficult and uncharted waters for me. For sake of time I will mainly refer to filming the competition as it applies.


Changing up the shot
So one of my first challenges was to acquire different perspectives of the riders hitting a lot of these features. Well for those of you who don’t know, wakeboarding (or wake skating) takes place on water, and the electronics we use have a catlike fear of said water. That meant for a long time I had to stand at the edge of the island but realistically I found myself usually about thigh deep because I wanted my shot.

Eventually my buddy Clay, who was awesome enough to come shoot stills with me, and I set out on a paddle boat. This was truly awesome and horrible at the same time. We were able to get some really cool shots and definitely change the persepctive but I had to battle the rocking boat (did I mention my lens doesn’t have IS) and the wind pushing us every other direction. And on top of that we had to make sure we weren’t a distraction or interference to the riders. When it was all said and done I felt like I had just kick boxed a kangaroo. It was worth it.

The Love/Hate of a Crop Sensor
For those interested I shot 98% of this, minus the GoPro footage, with an AF100a and an old FD 70-205mm lens. So effectively with my crop sensor I was shooting 140-410, awesome right? You bet, unless the rider was close to me and I wanted to capture a wide shot. I would say the crop helped a lot more then it hindered though.

Honestly, even though I own a Red One I still love my AF100. I know it doesn’t have 14 stops of DR but I will say it’s “inferior” sensor has helped me become better at lighting scenes. But what I also feel helped me for this piece was the 60fps at 1080. Now normally I am a 24p guy all the way, ever since I bought my DVX100b back in the day but I wanted to try speed-ramping, which I had actually never done before.  I did my best not too over due it in the final video as I know we all have a tendency to do when we first learn a new trick….vignettes anyone?

We set out to shoot an action sport video and we did just that. As an artist I’m not saying it’s perfect, however I am definitely proud of it.




Photography by Clay VanArsdale

2 Responses

  1. Page Lynch says:

    Great work, Tommy! It looked like a fun shoot! I think a good takeaway here is that you had an opportunity, and you seized it; regardless of payment, I’ll bet. Sometimes, simply doing a little bit of work, even for free or cheap, is all it takes to dig ourselves out of a rut of dispassionate work!

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