Fruit Roll Ups & Nikon CLS

February 21, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Chad warming up with some jumping jacks at the base of Crystal Meth, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Nikon D3S, Nikkor 17-35, SB-800 with SC-29 cord, (slow-sync)

When Nikon invited us to use their CLS lighting system creatively, I wonder how far out they thought the "creative" part of that name? Put a few photo geeks with Nikon cameras in a Colorado back country ice cave and watch out.
 
We had a GREAT time this Saturday in the hills. My buddies Ben and Chad were going ice climbing and invited me to tag along. What a gorgeous day in Rocky Mountain National Park. No wind, high 30's and 40's in the shade; one of those blissful days you hope for during the week as you watch the weather develop for the weekend. So many things about the day made it great - but I can't keep from laughing about a new discovery born from this group of nutty outdoor photogs.

Ben working up the bottom pillar of WI5 Crystal Meth, Rocky Mountain National Park
Nikon D3S, 70-200VR, SB-800 (slow-sync)


We started early on Crystal Meth, a solid WI5 flow in Loch Vale, and had the place to ourselves for a while. As the morning advanced more folks showed and we decided to mosey up the trail in search of a little more solitude. Chad found this unnamed flow along the flanks, and post-holed some pretty deep snow to get to it. What a great find... we spent the rest of the day hanging out there, essentially hidden to skiers passing far below on the valley floor trail.


Coming down from Fruit Roll Up, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Nikon D3S, Nikkor 17-35.

Behind the flow there was a nice little cave carved out, full of tiny wonders. Between climbing we were in there geeking out shooting pics and I was trying to get the right mood on the ceiling of the cave. I'd brought my SB-600, SB-800 and SU-800 and was running wireless off the D3S. Crazy white balance adjustment wasn't getting it done, and in my effort to (for once) minimize the kit brought to keep the pack light, flash accessories were limited. The ceiling of the cave was full of a beautiful, green, soft moss and "Lord of the Rings" style blades of pure, crystal-clear, perfectly smooth ice. "Wish I had a green gel..." I said. And that's when it happened; the flash of synergistic genius fired. "What about one of your fruit roll-ups?" Ben said. I looked at him for a moment and thought hey-great idea.


The Ice Cave in Rocky Mountain National Park now called, "Fruit Roll Up."
Nikon D3S, SB-800, blue/green Fruit Roll Up (& edible) filter.

I ran out and rummaged through my stuff sacks looking for the food bag. The second roll-up opened was what I was after: a sheet of blue-green fruit pressed into a thin, pliable sheet. The cold made it a little brittle and I gently peeled it from the plastic and ran back into the cave, molding it like a cap on the head of the flash. I'd been shooting manual, +.07EV at about 1/4 power, and cranked it up to 1:1 on the SU-800 to penetrate the thick, plastic-like fruit. Presto: green cave ceiling. We laughed like little kids. Chad had the presence of mind to get a shot with his D40 and Ben hooked up his F100 with the SC-29 cord and made a few frames on Velvia. Can't wait to see them.

Ben and I geeking out like little kids. Photo by Chad Johnson, Nikon D40 with SB-800

Nikon SB-600 with our custom, improvised fruit roll-up, (& edible) gel

So the unnamed flow is no longer unnamed. I took the liberty of naming it on Chad's facebook page. It's now known as Fruit Roll-Up. I'm grateful to Chad and Ben for letting me tag along for the day. It's tough to climb and shoot. It was a real joy to hang with them and be free to go crazy. Looking forward to even more creative ways of using Nikon's Creative Lighting System.
 
Almost forgot... for any shooters in the Denver area around March 22, here's a plug for David Hobby and Joe McNally's "Flash Bus Tour" in Denver that day. We're signed up and can't wait to spend the day with these two guys learning what has to be the complete sum of human knowledge so far regarding creative strobe use. If you're going, and want to hook up after shoot us a note. It's going to be great fun.
 
for more pics from the day, click here.
peace.

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