This weekend I had the opportunity to photograph one of the Xtend Barre instructors at Wellington Full swing dance studio. I had a limited knowledge of Xtend Barre and can safely say I'm so glad I wasn't made to take part! I have about as much flexibility as a breadstick, it would have truly been an awful sight.
Xtend Barre is a relatively new thing in NZ, its a mixture of Pilates with some ballet moves thrown in and uses a bar (hence the name) as a reference point for stretches and moves. Lisa made it all look incredibly easy, even the ones that looked like stress positions the military would use during interrogation!
As Lisa began to warm up I noticed they have a basket of what looked like dodge balls. my suggestion of a warmup game of dodgeball or football was met with disapproval so I left her to stretch and went about sorting my camera gear out.
After 5-10mins of warming up we ran through a few different ideas for shots we thought would work well from a photography perspective but also what would show what Xtend Barre is and how it is different to yoga and Pilates. It turns out they use a few different pieces of equipment (including the balls) during a workout session either as an extension of the bar or as a tool to ensure the correct muscles are targeted during each exercise.
The studio is quite light and airy and lets in a fair amount of sunlight which was great for me and meant the strobes could stay in the bag. In fact I only took the flash out of my bag for one image; the top image in this post. I thought it would look cool to show the symmetry between Lisa's pose and her shadow on the wall. The rest of the time I opted for natural light and a good old reflector. Its not often I get to shoot this way, a lot of how I like to shoot is dark and involves some artificial light so it was nice being able to step away from that for a while. Choosing your lighting is obviously very important to the overall look and feel of an image, I knew I wanted these images to look warm, inviting and delicate so chose to shoot with natural daylight and manually increase the white balance to give the images a warmer tone. To add to that nice even warm glow I used the gold side of my reflector to fill in the shadows. My wife was assisting me on this day and did a great job at feathering the warm gold light into the face and shadows. This is a great technique often used with softboxes and grids, instead of blasting the subject with the hotspot in the centre of the reflector, you kind of use the edge of the reflected light to feather the light into the areas you want it. Ii has a much nicer soft and even quality.
Okay thats probably enough from me, if you would like to find out more about Xtend Barre classes in Wellington you can do so here... http://fullswing.co.nz/xtend/ In the meantime here's some more pics for you to enjoy!