Assignment insight part 2: make something happen

Ok then! Picking up from where we left off in Part 1; I got my head wrapped around the assignment, did my homework on the subject, looked at the location and realized that getting my gear there was going to take some work. Oh! And I didn't have much time to get what I needed. Just another day at the office ya know?

Well my assistant Kim and I met Wendy our mountain climber gal/subject at her home and found that the all important shirt with her sponsor's logo on it (gotta have the logo visible in every shot!) is too small. I'd say about 2 sizes too small. Ahhh! So the sleeves are rolled up and the shirt is worn over another one. No shirt – no logo – no shoot. Funny that.

So we all grab our respective backpacks and we start hiking. And hiking. I would say that it was about a 20 minute hike climbing all the way and my pack with the lights, extension cords, stands and battery pack was probably about 60 pounds. By the time we got to the location I was pretty whipped. Now on the way I was thinking that I should have brought some music for Wendy to listen to but I didn't want to pack any speakers into our already tightly crammed packs. Having music to listen to is often really good to keep a mood for your subject and help them relax rather than just listening to my voice for an hour or more. But the hike and our prior chat established a nice rapport with Wendy so I didn't think that she's be less than fun to work with. Well guess what we found when we got to our location?

A bluegrass band. Seriously. These 3 guys hiked all the heck up there just to practice. So "The Dirty Spoons" played, quite well I must say, throughout our photo session. How cool is that?

So since we wanted something slightly dramatic, I mean Wendy is a mountain climber right?, but not over the top. I also wanted her to look pretty if possible so I didn't use any hard light on her. So I only used large light sources: two medium Chimera soft boxes as separation/edge lights and a 42 inch shoot through umbrella as a main light. I used the umbrella for two reasons: 1) it would produce a round and more natural looking catchlight in Wendy's eyes rather than the rectangular one of a softbox and 2) it's less bulky/heavy as Kim would be playing the role of Voice Activated Lightstand as you see below.


I had a hard time placing lights up there as there was NOTHING that was
flat so the critical placement of the main light had to be done by Kim.
My other lights could be a little oddly placed but that all important
main light had to be right on the spot.

So the shoot was pretty easy except for the constant question in my head of "how the heck am I going to put a light over there if I put Wendy over here?". Oh and I really only had one direction to work with as a background, south – the direction the above photo is looking at – because every other one either had no rocks and "mountain" stuff but either a very green tree lined foothill or the city of Boulder. So you work with what you have, right?

Wendy 1

Oh, and we were blessed with I must say typical glorious Colorado skies. It really helped the mood. If we had been socked in with overcast, which is rare, I'd have had to totally change my approach. Luckily the location had her facing north so that the rock spires behind her went 3 stops darker than the skies so my drama thing was pretty easy to achieve.

Wendy 2

2 thoughts on “Assignment insight part 2: make something happen”

  1. Hi Jonathan,
    Greg Maurer Photog here in Canada on the west coast in Vancouver……alpenglowpro.
    Great work checked your blog this morn.
    I’ve been googling….I have a sony high MD Mz 910 recorder I’ve got a mac pro running current osx 10.5
    have you imported your recordings into Garage band?? linear PCM quality? Is that possible? any work arounds? sony has a download (HiMD music transfer 2)for mac but the PDF seems to indicate that it does not support PCM or wav just mp3 imports for that model
    I have used sony’s acid 6 on windows but now my windows laptop is nuked
    Is sony’s acid 6 better than garage band? Never used Garage Band
    Appreciate if you could reply Found you on SPORTS SHOOTER
    The weather here is absolutely bomber here first light happens in about an hour Got a D200 and now am shooting digital almost exclusively processing raw with lightroom 2 All my film Nikons nobody wants them….
    hey what are you using for a digital wide lens? …… 12 to i8 range?
    shoot like a beast

  2. Hey Greg. I’m still using my trusty Sony MZ-Rh910 because it’s mic preamps are still cleaner than most of the small portable digital recorders. I edit all my audio with Steinberg Cubase. Garage band is to me the point-n-shoot version of something like Cubase which is a top-of-the-line audio editing suite. You can do a lot with a point-n-shoot but it’s harder to work with under a wide range of situation. I do use the Sony import software as it converts to either Mp3 or .wav files. Since just about all my multimedia work is published to the web the audio is typically compress pretty heavily so recording in PCM is overkill. I record in the Sony equivalent to a 256k MP3 which is more than good enough since it will end up around maybe 96k after final compression.
    As for wide lenses, I use my 14mm f/2.8 occasionally but tend to work with my AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 17mm alot. I’m about to pick up two D700’s so I expect to use my 14mm maybe 2-3 times a year. Been waiting for a “full frame” Nikon digital for quite some time and would like to be able to use my old beloved 24mm fixed.
    Oh, don’t sell your film cameras. They are still useful and some editorial/advertising clients are wanting film if possible because it gives a different look than our digital captures.

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