There is nothing like the challenge of a location portrait. You have to go prepared for sun, cloud or rain, bitter cold or sweltering heat. The day we photographed famed wildlife biologist, Shane Mahoney, as a part of an ongoing documentary film project, it was bitter cold and brilliant, blinding morning sun …and the crew were prepared. No “fix it in Photoshop” for this bunch. Time spent at the computer “fixing” is time wasted and an admission you didn’t do it right the first time.
So, I’ll share some tech info.
We knew the “mood” we wanted so we set to work. First the harsh sunlight on the subject area was knocked down with a 4ft sq diffusing scrim. Then a light reading was taken and the whole scene was underexposed in camera (Nikon D2x) with the exposure compensation control. Next we fired up a 2ooo watt 5600k HMI location light and focused it on Shane’s face using another 4ft sq diffusion scrim to soften the shadows. The light was then positioned to over compensate for the camera under exposure bringing just the subject back to proper exposure.
…and, of course, f2.8 for shallow depth of field to give some separation of the subject from the background.
While there are certainly memorable photos where a photographers great eye and reflex capture a fleeting moment or as Henri Cartier -Bresson called it, “the decisive moment”, there are other photos that are achieved by planning and executing a visual concept. It’s about making it happen. This is the world of creative and commercial photography and film making.