Small Town Photojournalism

A Photo Blog by Matthew Jonas

The Next Big Thing?

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© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

With more than 325,000 views on his YouTube video for Jonah, 18-year-old Graham Stookey might get his wish to play Red Rocks. I had the pleasure to make a few pictures of him for an upcoming story in the Columbine Courier (which is still a free online publication).

When I first started to light portraits, I used to overpower everything. I cranked up the power on my lights and totally blew away the ambient light. Lately I have been taking a much simpler approach to lighting environmental portraits. I add to what is available. With the portrait above, I was looking for a certain mood. Stookey shot the video I linked to in his basement. His theme has been to make a living playing music to get out of the basement and onto the stage. While not that creative, I chose to shoot the portrait of him “where it all began”.

I wanted the photo to feel like you were looking at a something that might actually happen. It was as if you stumbled into the basement and found Stookey practicing. I made an exposure to check the ambient light. It was dark. Somewhere around 1/60th at f4 at 1600ISO. That was my starting point. I then started to position the lights around Stookey. I wanted some good directional light that would almost match the ambient. I placed a gelled Nikon SB-80DX triggered by a Pocket Wizard Plus II, with a Honl Speed Grid on a light stand camera left. Controlling the spill would be part of making the photo believable. Next I placed another Nikon SB-80DX triggered by a Pocket Wizard Plus II, with a Honl Speed Grid on a backlight stand directly behind him. This added a little separation between Stookey and the background. From there it was just a matter of getting the positioning right and letting the pictures happen.

EDITORS NOTE: I don’t usually watermark my pictures. However, due to unauthorized usage I may have to start doing this on a regular basis. Apparently my pictures are good enough to steal now. I am flattered.

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