When I started shooting with Kevin Henshaw for his interview in the May issue of Alliance I knew we had to get some shots on the floating A-frame rail he had built. Kevin had actually built that rail a long time ago, but it hadn’t been photographed much. The rail is pretty ingenious, as Henshaw has a couple anchors buried in the shallow water just off his dock with which to keep the floating giant in place. He built the rail in response to the authorities making him tear down permanent rails. With a floating rail he can just store it tied up next to his dock as if it were a boat, and when he wants to hit it he just swims it out to where the anchors are and clips it in.

Without the use of flashes, the only way to photograph a sky like this with some wakeboarding action is to shoot a silhouette. Henshaw's nose press is a good subject.

The best part about shooting the rail is that it is right off Henshaw’s boat dock, which means you can shoot from the roof of the dock and get a bird’s eye view, or you can shoot from shore, or obviously, from out on the water. I knew from the beginning I wanted to shoot Kevin hitting the rail with some flashes set up on the dock in order to light things up. The dock provided a perfect, safe place (plus it has electricity) to set up a couple light stands and flashes. Plus, using flashes allows you to use the colors of a sunset in a way you normally couldn’t. With a flash you can expose your photo for the light of the sky then use the pop from the flash to fill in the rider.

Add a little light from some flashes and you get the sunset of the sky and you can see the rider.

The conditions were perfect the night I went and shot Kevin on his rail, and they were especially perfect for using some lights. Kevin, as usual, killed it on his rail and was game for riding way longer than normal. But every time he took a little breather and looked at some of the photos we were getting, he got more stoked to keep going. As the sun kept setting the pictures just kept getting better. I stayed in one general area because I really wanted a shot that showed the rail and the awesome colors of the sunset. I was able to tweak the colors a bit by changing the white balance setting of my camera. Sometimes I would crawl into the reeds just next to Henshaw’s boat dock and use them as something different to shoot through, which I thought would make the photos a little more interesting and visually appealing.

Shooting into the sun with a couple flashes to fill in the action can yield some cool results.

Shooting through some reeds adds layers to a photo, but also makes it hard to get the rider in the right spot.

The sky really started looking cool after the sun dipped below the horizon. The clouds lit up orange and red while the sky went back to blue. Kevin dialed in one of his signature nose presses and I snapped a shot. Afterward we both knew we had exactly what we were looking for for Kevin’s interview.

The final product.

Camera settings:

Camera: Canon EOS 1D MarkIIN  Lens: Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS (@70mm)

Settings: ISO 160, 1/250th of a sec. @ f7.1

Lights: 2 AlienBees B1600 lights at full power w/ 11″ sport reflectors