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)