Minnesota is a state of extreme climatic change. We have some of the coldest weather in the country during the winter and some of the most hot and humid days in the summer. This photo of Kevin Meland doing a 360 mute grab on the banks of the Mississippi in St. Paul really captures the essence of skating here in the summer.
Shot late in the evening, when it stays light out till 9:30, on one of those mid-week sessions when everyone is caught up on errands and has the chance to meet up and skate for an hour then grab a beer and be in bed by midnight for work the next day. One of those fun sessions that you don’t skate that hard during but are covered in sweat because of how humid it is, and where you don’t get kicked out by the cops but leave because the mosquitoes are so bad. One of those sessions that you realize no matter how busy you get with work, girls, friends, or any other combination of life’s obligations, you will always make this sort of session with your buddies a priority.
As far as the photo itself, the spot is a on top of a picnic area which offers some restrictions on where lights can be placed and where you can stand; there is almost no flat surface on this thing. If you get low enough, the pyramids have a lot of depth, and the repetition of shape is really cool, though I felt it was important for the one he was skating to stand out the most. I shot this with a telephoto lensthat compresses things a lot, and though I said I wanted to show depth, if I had shot this with a wider lens, Kevin would have gotten really small and the pyramid in front really big, so I decided to show depth with lighting, letting the front pyramid go completely dark, and letting the one behind him have some spill from my strobes on it, though still keeping it about a stop darker than the hero pyramid, and the most distant pyramid is darker yet. The key light is camera right, offering a somewhat soft fill just so you can see him, I didn’t want to expose him to an exact true tone because I wanted to rely mostly on the rim light to separate him from the dark background. There is a third light placed low and behind the hero pyramid pointed up, offering a little fill on his bottom leg. We made three captures, the first was a lighting test, the second was another test after I adjusted the rim light, the third is the shot you are seeing; had there been a fourth capture, we all would have already had beers in our hands. — John Haynes