Monday, December 17, 2007

Red, rojo, aka

"Dunbar's Tavon Austin is the All-Examiner first team offense Player of the Year for football."

Sunday I helped shoot the Baltimore Examiner high school Fall 2007 Player of the Year awards.

I knew I'd be shooting all the individual portraits before arriving early Sunday morning, but I didn't know where I was going to actually shoot them. The weather was suppose to be a nasty winter mix, but turned into just another rain shower. This still prevented me from shooting anything outside.

When I first arrived, I helped Chris Ammann setup his backdrop and test his lighting. He would be doing the group shots of: football (offense and defense), boy's soccer, girl's soccer, field hockey, volleyball and boy's cross country and girl's cross country.

His job was tough, as there is no real studio and needed to fit 15 or more players on a nine foot backdrop. While he didn't always get all the players perfectly on the seamless, he did come up with another idea. He ran with it and I think it will turn out really cool. I am eager to see the final results.

Before he got all the players for the first team group image, I was busy shooting the Player of the Year in each of the listed sports, including the Coach of the Year. Once done, I sent them his way.

It was a straight forward task, take waist-up images of a list of players and coaches. But again, I was confined to the Examiner office because of rain.

Before firing a single frame I was told: nothing too fancy, nothing crazy with lighting and nothing too extreme with poses. OK, simple enough, but I knew I had to set a theme for the images and make them pop some how.

Since there was no more room in the hall, Ammann showed me my room for the assignment. I don't know why, but I originally wanted a white wall. So I totally ignored the colored walls at first.

I plopped my two light stands, light bag (consisting mainly of three Nikon SB's and four Pocket Wizards) and camera down on the table and picked up an Examiner from Saturday. Boom. It hit me. The banner is red, why not use that bright red wall behind me? It would not only match the paper's design, but bring a continuing theme to all 15 portraits.

I moved the chairs into the hall, pushed back the conference table and setup two lights before finding another pleasant surprise. The paint on the wall was slightly reflective, giving me a nice specular highlight from my front umbrella. The light's highlight also made a natural vignetting effect.

After a couple tests and click-wheel turns I knew this would work. What also was nice is I could take my lighting and spin it 90 degrees and get the same effect on the yellow wall. I stuck mainly with the red, but when players from River Hill (yellow and blue school colors) I used the latter.

A fun little challenge trying to be different. It's not a typical studio shot, it's not a on location shot (I'd much rather shoot an image on location) and it's not a standard head shot. Lucky for me, each player brought a piece of equipment, too.

Whether these are laid out on same page, different pages or on different days, they will be easy to distinguish that they're the fall preview profile images.


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