May 3, 2013

The Mayor

USU is working on a campaign to show off their satellite campuses all around Utah, and they've asked me to help. I make portraits of students and faculty and staff and graduates, while a video crew does interview with all the same. The campuses are really wonderful and are fully equipped--students don't go there because they couldn't get into USU Logan; they go there because they are good schools, and I've enjoyed getting to know them all and photographing all around the state.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens @ 70mm, f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 100.

This is my favorite picture from the five campuses I've visited so far. This is the previous mayor of Vernal, photographed in the bookstore/cafe he and his wife run on Main Street.  My wife and I arrived first (the rest of the crew was lost in the desert after our session with the wild biology teacher) and we got to spend a few minutes with this great couple. We came in, ordered sandwiches (best lunch in town by a long shot!), coaxed his wife into being in the picture with him, and we were finished shooting before our delicious paninis were ready. They had a portrait on the wall of their progenitors, and I hope this one goes up, too.

I loved setting up this portrait. From the moment we walked in I knew I was going to photograph them in front of the books. I chose the 70-200mm lens because I wanted a little more environment than the 105mm would give me and I was already standing in the bathroom to get a little more space as it was. I could have used a wider lens, like a 50mm, but that would bring too much other stuff into the picture and make it too busy for the graphic designer to use and too busy for me to love. Aperture was set at f/6.3 in order to have enough depth of field to get both faces in focus, but still have some blur to the background and save my flash batteries a little. There was a window behind me to the left and another waaaaay at the front of the store to the right, and florescent lights over head. That means three colors of light and none of it very flattering. I used a small speedlight behind and to the right to put a pop of light on the bookshelf and as a gentle hairlight. The main light is a speedlight through a white umbrella from directly over the table. I wanted it to feel like the kind of light you often see over tables in a cafe, and I think it worked out nicely. The fast shutter speed ensured that those other lights in the room wouldn't influence this picture.

This picture is presented just as I got it from the camera, including the black and white; which just shows how silly it is to brag about not using Photoshop. I shot this image as a RAW image, which always comes to the computer in color no matter the settings on the camera. However, I wanted to leave a print with them, so I needed a jpeg image I could take to Walmart and have back immediately (my first, and hopefully last, experience printing at Walmart. I made two prints in black and white; one was yellowish and the other wasn't. I'm a snob about my prints for a reason.) so I used the in camera RAW processing to create a BW image with a red filter applied to add contrast and ease the skin tones and I brightened it a touch, then saved a jpeg copy. So, my camera has photoshop built in...but it's still right out of the camera! Sigh.

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