Matt Manzari got back to Orlando from school up in Tennessee right as we were shooting the goofy-as-hell CWB team poster at the Projects. We both talked about trying to shoot sometime soon and eventually our schedules lined up. When Matt mentioned trying to get something cool on the pool gap in Reed Hansen’s backyard I immediately thought about setting up some lights and trying something a little different. I had been shooting at Reed’s a ton for work on the top-secret Fox Spinal Tap project and every day I was there I saw the potential to light up his pool. What I really wanted to try was using a colored gel over a light behind the rail that would light up the spray and bring a crazy pop of color into the photo.

The first attempts with Matt looked good, but he wanted to be totally over the coping, not on the banked side.

The first night out to Reed’s I set up three lights. One was floating on a small dock out in the lake looking directly back at the rail/pool. The second light was positioned behind the rail with a red gel facing right where I would be shooting from. A third light was set to the camera’s right and facing the rail to give it a little more fill light. Matt proceeded to go to work on the rail, just hitting back lip after back lip. After every hit he would come over to where I was wading in the shallow water and check the results. I immediately knew after looking at the first couple that if Matt could get the trick just right and the spray would light up red, we’d have a definite contender for a cover. Matt probably hit the rail close to 20 times that first night, but was never too stoked on his body position or the way he got on the coping between the flat and angled part of the ledge coming out of the pool.

This time Matt got more over the coping, but his body position wasn't the greatest when I snapped this frame off. Because we were shooting with strobes we would only get one shot per trick, so Matt and I had to have our timing down to get things just right.

That night I sent a couple of the better shots around to the rest of the Alliance staff. Everybody concurred that it was a definite cover option if everything came together. About a week later I met up with Matt again in Reed’s backyard and set everything up the same way. Matt was determined to get a legit back lip on the coping on lock. This time I had him wear a blue shirt rather than a black one, to help pop some more from the background of the photo. After just a few tries Matt was locked in and we were getting some great shots. He was almost making it look too easy. Normally when guys come out of a pool onto a rail their back arm is up in the air for balance. Matt did that a couple times and after looking at the results on my camera said, “I’m gonna try to keep my arm down so it’s not flailing.” Within two tries we had the next cover of Alliance. Matt was perfectly balance back lip over the coping, in way more control than you could ever imagine, and the spray lit up bright red from the colored back-light. We were both pumped on the results and even more pumped when it finally went off to the printer as the next cover of Alliance. Matt had never had a cover shot before, so it was extra cool to have a unique one like this be his first. Big thanks to Reed Hansen for driving the PWC both nights and helping out with setup and take-down.

Right after Matt decided to "keep his arm in control" during the second shoot. It almost looked too in control in this shot.


Everything came together how we originally planned on this shot and it eventually became the cover. Props to Matt for sticking it.

Camera settings:
Camera: Canon EOS 1D MarkII N
Lens: Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS (@ 130mm)
ISO: 125
Shutter speed: 1/250th of a second
Aperture: f/3.5

The final result. Art Director William Lawther did a grat job working with the color and laying out the photo as a cover.