A fun, Texas-style assignment. And portable lighting.

This is Dr. Russell Cunningham.  He's a rancher, a Texan, and a competition horse rider.  Oh yes, and he is also an accomplished oral surgeon.  I would probably have never met him if not for an ongoing project I've been doing for the practice in which he is a partner.

To make this image my trusty assistant, Ben, and I threw some gear in the trusty Honda Element and drove out past the town of Dripping Springs to the ranch.  Ben dragged the cases and sandbags out of the truck while Dr. Cunningham and I discussed the set up.  We shot in the open shade and went back in and filled with the Profoto 600b battery powered electronic flash firing into a Photek 60 inch Softlighter 2.  It's basically a 60 inch umbrella with a black backing.  It also comes with a diffusion cover to soften the light that bounces off the reflective surface of the umbrella.  I used the umbrella in fairly close and set the control box at half power.  I set a basic exposure for the sky and sunlit background and the used a light meter to set the flash level on Dr. Cunningham and his horse.  We brought two thirty pound sandbags along because we knew if the wind kicked up we'd need them.  We needed them!

Ben hung onto the stand and the umbrella while I fired away with a Canon 5Dmk2 and the 24-105mm L lens.  This lens has some cool features.  It's got a great range for most editorial situations.  It's got a really good image stabilization system.  It feels solid.  But the thing that keeps me reaching for it is that it's so darned sharp.  Even at f4 the detail I get in the center of the frame is really wonderful.  If I didn't suffer so badly from GADD (Gear Attention Deficit Disorder)  I could easily run my whole business with this lens and the 70-200 f4L lens.  They're a nice match.

The ad ran in color but I like the feel of the black and white treatment so that's how I processed it for my portfolio.

Every month has been different.  This one really feels like Central Texas in the old days.


Mister Ian said...

The lighting is right and so is the composition. Nicely done. I would have thought the horse would get spooked by the flash though.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Happy new year Kirk, and Belinda, and Ben!

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Wolfgang, My best wishes to you and your family!!! And best wishes to all who drop by here to read my stuff. I hope we all have a great year of photography.


Kurt Shoens said...

I like the environmental portraits that you post the most. Thanks!

The black & white treatment here works well. Given all the attention paid to Kodachrome's color rendition in the last week and generally looking at the color palettes that many talented photographers are using, I'm thinking of going on a color diet. Well done color these days is really good, but I'm suffering from too much of a good thing. Every time I try a color to B&W conversion, then revert to try another approach, the color rushing back into the image hits me like a sugar shock.

So I'm thinking that I'll start scaling back the color to a more muted rendition.

It's a blast that you used a Softlighter in this portrait. In my last portrait session, I chose the lighting design to make a point rather than to best effect. I figure next time I'm going to compensate by using the so-good-it's-cheating 60 inch Softlighter.

Happy New Years!

Dave said...

I've long thought that the Canon 24-105 was a great all around piece of glass. Great shot and I too love the Softlighter, though I forget every time I use how the diffuser mounts (before or after you put it on the stand). Side note, I went and took at look at the 60D and see why you are so enamored with it. Nice, nice camera. Funny though, the one at the store that I really, really liked was the Sony A850. It just feels like a photographer's tool.

Happy New Year and thank you for all the great reading in 2010. I'm still working on my business plan for starting my LLC after reading the Commercial Photography Handbook.

Anonymous said...

Loving your portraits. Have you thought about doing a book which would be your style of portraits instead of all the "Sears" and "J.C. Penny's" dreck that's out there in most of the other books?

I'd get one pretty fast.

Don said...

Has that great, classic, "Texas Monthly" look to it Kirk. Nice nice shot, man.

ric woods photography blog said...

I really enjoy the craft and experience in your work.Thanks for the great books too.Ive learned lots of neat stuff ....ric