Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet Wayne Dickert...

70mm :: 1/2 sec @ f8, ISO 50

Meet Wayne "Wayner" Dickert... Olympic paddler and all around awesome fellow. I shot Wayne over the winter for the Canoe & Kayak Beginners Guide magazine (on newsstands now). We had one of the toughest winters on record out here in North Carolina, and when C&K asked me to shoot Wayne I don't think they had snow and ice in mind... but snow and ice is what they got. I figured, if you got it, flaunt it... so I showed up early and scouted the most brutal location I could find.

Wayne is the head instructor at the Nantahala Outdoor Center... which according to National Geographic Adventure is "one of the best outfitters on the earth." Though they paddle many rivers in the south-east, the NOC is built upon the Nantahala River, so I limited my scouting there. There is a section called The Cascades, class V paddling with awesome waterfalls... that was my initial idea, but the access was way too treacherous due to ice ice everywhere... I'd hate to kill my subject (almost happened once... more on that another day). I tooled around in my truck with my dog looking for the perfect spot, and then I found it, down a long snow-covered dirt road. Tucked back in a little cove with decent access was this cascade... the mist coming off the waterfall affected by weeks of freezing temperature had created a frozen white winter wonderland... everything was covered in snow and ice.

I went and picked up Wayne and we bushwhacked our way through the forest. I selected the exact spot, tied a few branches back out of the way, and set up one light. Using just one light is not typical for me (unlike the immensely talented Zack Arias), but I didn't have much of a choice this time around. Despite my sometimes ridiculous devotion to building the perfect shot, I wasn't about to ford an icy river all by myself to set up kickers on the opposite shore... I was just going to make it work. I used a beauty dish on a White Lightning connected to my own battery powered rig (12 volt lawnmower battery and an inverter - cheaper and with more power than a Vagabond). I underexposed the ambient by about 1 stop, dragging the shutter to blur the water, and popped a bit of light onto Wayne with a 1/2 sun gel to even further cool the background color temperature and allow Wayne's warm flesh tone to stand out against the blue environment. A few minutes and a few frozen fingers later... (sorry, no behind-the-camera timelapse on this one... but I've got a ton of good ones coming up in the future)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meet Russell Stall...

35mm :: 1/200 @f/4.5, ISO 100

One of the things I love about this job, location portraiture, is the challenge... seems cliche, I know, but that's one of those things about cliches: they are often true. I get to shoot a lot of "everyday people"... not rockstars or movie actresses, but folks like Russell Stall who run Greenville Forward... Folks with an office, a cluttered desk, an assistant, and something a little different about what they do so as to warrant their portrait being made.

The challenge for me is showing up and making something out of nothing. In essence, I don't have an empty canvas, I've got one already cluttered... In the case of Russell, one filled with filing cabinets, computer printers, papers, desks, books, and a pretty nifty poster of Einstein on the wall. I enjoy the fact that I've got to take all these elements, sculpt them into something framable, then add light and paint something intriguing. It ain't always easy, but it is usually fun.

I chose an exposure dark enough to overpower the ambient light: 1/200 @ f/4.5, ISO 100. I used a white reflective umbrella as key and placed two Speedstrips as kickers (yes, build demo coming soon... probably the next post). I started with a ringlight as my fill, but I had to give it up because I needed to use that Speedlite with a snoot to illuminate the painting, so I used specular reflective fill under the camera instead.

(I start the timelapse after I've already cleaned up the place).

I'm currently working on a series of portraits (still and motion) of emerging artists... They won't be published for another month or so, but they are going to make for a neat set of posts... lots of behind-the-camera-timelapses and some portfolio worthy shots. Fun stuff.... stay tuned... and check back for the Speedstrip build demo coming soon.

Patrick Cavan Brown :: Editorial and Commercial Photographer :: Asheville, North Carolina