Track spikes have always fascinated me. They're so singular in purpose. Maybe that's why the designers go nuts, but it's hard to find a wallflower track spike.
The Asics Japan Lite-Ning 2 is no wallflower. For this shoe I wanted a stadium backdrop. I scouted various tracks: Stanford, Kezar, USF, SFSU, and City College was the best. They recently built themselves a new complex, with a track, a football field, a stadium, and a fitness center. It's really nice and really new.
Trying to get permission to shoot, I was getting nowhere talking to them on the phone, so I hopped on down there with my portfolio and my enthusiasm and had permission in short order (thanks Martha and Dan!).
Meanwhile, I planned my lighting setup at home.
Later that week, Emily Polar, Kim Olson, and I overloaded Emily's Subaru with gear. We set up the shoes on the track...
...and built a crazy looking lighting setup all around it, had a nice dinner, and waited for the ambient light to be right.
I think the obvious question here is why? Why not just shoot the background, then shoot the shoes, then composite. Especially since I've gone with this very dramatic, unrealistic lighting.
And the answer is: it just doesn't look right composited. It may look cool, compelling, interesting, flashy, or, these days, totally-run-of-the-mill, but it doesn't look right. Although I almost totally overpowered the ambient light on the shoes, there is still some ambient there. Also, there's an interaction with the edges of the shoes and the background that would take God-like knowledge to even know you'd need to replicate it.
Finally, there's the interaction between the object and the place and the crew and the day. And this is all-important and this cannot be faked.