Alexis Cuarezma is a San Francisco-based photographer who specializes in both on-location and in-studio portraiture. An alumnus of the Eddie Adams Workshop, Cuarezma has done assignments for the LA Times, the New York Times, HBO, and a number of international publications. He recently did a shoot with Shayne Skov for Sports Illustrated at Stanford University, where he had precious little time to essentially do two shoots at once.
Cuarezma has a passion for bold visuals, bright colors, and high contrasts. However, his assignment called for “gray seamless”. To accommodate both Sports Illustrated and his personal style, Cuarezma harnessed the light grouping abilities of the Pocket Wizard MultiMax. He assigned all of the lights Sports Illustrated wanted for a uniform, seamless look to one channel and the punchier lighting setup to another channel and used the MultiMax’s Speed Cycler feature to fire off the two setups in succession.
“As soon as I saw this, in my mind I knew I could use this. I didn’t care to fire off strobes at 10 FPS, however, I did care about being able to fire off 2 different sets of lights back-to-back because they don’t have to be the same setup/look. I have a Canon 1D Mark IV that can fire off 10 FPS. So that’s taking a frame every 100 milliseconds. In theory that’s 2 separate images in 200 milliseconds and with the Speed Cycler feature that could be 2 completely different looks shot nearly simultaneously.” Cuarezma set off to draw a lighting diagram for his assistants and to make this concept a reality.
So long as the transmitting MultiMax is set to Speed Cycler, the rest of the radios can be either MultiMax or Plus IIIs assigned to letter groups. Speed Cycler helps reduce the recycling time limitations on lights and with a camera as quick as the 1D Mark IV, Cuarezma was able to fire his two setups in only about 200 milliseconds and get nearly the same exact expression in both.
Why go through the extra trouble? Cuarezma believes “whenever you’re shooting, regardless if it’s a paid assignment or personal shoot, that you should always shoot and do something for yourself whenever possible. Do something that makes you proud.”
Having a dual setup is a great way to get the job done while staying true to yourself without making your subject wait around for both.
The best part of all of this? The image that made the final cut ended up being the one where Cuarezma expressed his lighting creativity instead of relying on what was requested. So much for the gray seamless!