*A Portrait that just ‘Sings…’ Newburgh, NY 22•July•09

It doesn’t happen often. You never, ever know when everything is going to work precisely as planned. Even visualizing the final image in my head doesn’t always reach this level of simple satisfaction. The few images of orchestral conductor and classical composer Marcus Parris of Worcester, MA and Boston, literally jumped out of the camera and completely blew us all away. I think I made about 10 – 12 frames of him, after suggesting we move the electronic keyboard he’s leaning on away from the large window at one end of his sparse studio apt. The room was a nightmare technically when I arrived as the reporter finished up his interview. White walls with an overly strong midday sun blasting thru aluminum white blinds. Fortunately I had the time to listen to the last few minutes of the interview and carefully observe Mr. Parris. The guy is only 26 years old! Extremely gracious and with a good sense of humor, he agreed to move the keyboard away from the window, changed into his tuxedo jacket and formal shirt and grabbed his baton. He remained dressed in khaki shorts and I explained that it didn’t matter since I was only concerned with making a few tight head & shoulder portraits. As we joked a bit through the first test shots of him standing at first, it all kind of fell into place, almost instantly. When we pulled over a chair, and I adjusted the grid light to fall off coming in from the right, I dropped to my knees and made the images with the medium telephoto. Shooting time was probably no more than 10 minutes, after spending all of 10 – 15 minutes setting up my two small camera strobes. I knew by adjusting the exposures drastically, I could control the background and how I wanted those dreadful white walls to fall into shadow.

Here’s a set-up photo of the subject after I finished and was secretly doing cartwheels inside. For all you gearheads and lighting junkies, here’s the set-up / equipment info: Canon 5D-Mark II w/ 28mm – 70mm f/2.8AF. ISO 400. Two Canon strobes – main at right with a DIY snoot made from black Cine-Foil on a stand at camera right at 1/4 – 1/8th. power. Varied exposures between 1/30th. – 1/125th. sec. f/6.3 – f/8 after the interview. Second strobe low at camera left with a Sto-Fen dome at 1/32nd. power. Both strobes powered by a Quantum Battery I’s and triggered by Pocket Wizards. “Cheers.” -cg.

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