Environmental Portrait: Longmont Welder

JOAN_OF_ARC© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

I made this picture for a story on a local welding company owned by the woman in the photo. It was an idea I had for a while but didn’t have the opportunity to shoot. To create it, I used the cutting torch as the main light and a variety of gelled speedlights to shape the rest of the environment around the subject. It turned out more or less how I had envisioned and it ran at a decent size in the printed edition. Click through to see the final page.

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High School Football Portraits

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

I’ll admit it. I used to hate my speedlights. The first one I bought sat in my camera bag for 6 months before I even turned it on for the first time. I didn’t understand how to use it, when I should use it or what it was capable of. I got over my hatred but only after a lot of experimentation and studying the work of other news and editorial photographers. Once I understood what could be accomplished using speedlights, modifiers and a solid knowledge of lighting, I never approached a portrait the same way again.

Click through for to learn about how the picture above was made.

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Fall Football Preview Portraits

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

About 6 months ago our sports editor, Michael Hicks, came to me with an idea for the fall. He wanted to put together a multi-page, pull out section filled with previews for the fall high school football season. I was immediately on board. It has been a long time since we had tackled anything this big. Newspapers with a circulation size as small as ours do not get to work on projects like this often. As everyone is well aware, the newspaper business is a little unstable right now. With that instability comes budget cuts and physical page count and size reductions. Getting a full color, multi-page section is a difficult pill to swallow for most publishers, especially if there is a lack of committed advertising to offset the cost.

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The Next Big Thing?

© 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”.

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Friday Night Darkness (Lights?)

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Fall sports started a couple of weeks ago and I have been busy Friday nights ever since. For many of us that means high school football. This is a time of year that I both look forward to and dread. The weather is finally cooling off and the days are becoming shorter. Unfortunately that means that the sun sets earlier and with game times starting around 7pm I am forced to deal with awful stadium lights (hence the phrase Friday Night Lights). This used to mean that I had to break out the flash-bracket-battery-pack-monopod contraption in order to stop action and get a decent exposure. Not anymore. I recently acquired a Canon EOS 7D which I have blogged about here and there. With fast lenses (f2.8 or better) and lower noise higher ISOs, football has become fun to shoot again.

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Using Big Lights on Location

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

If you have read any of my posts about lighting you know that I was raised on the lighting traditions of David Hobby. I worked with him during the filming of the DVD he put out on lighting 101 when I was living in Delaware. I have been a small light shooter since I started working in newspapers. It was a necessity born out of portability and speed. Lately I seem to bringing a lot of gear with me to do the job of one big light. So I have made a change.

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Portrait of a firefighter

I shoot a lot of portraits. Unlike some of my colleagues, I actually like shooting portraits. This is a portrait of firefighter Scott Martin who helped to save the life of 3 year old Joshua Johnson who was run over by a car in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Evergreen. I called him in the morning to schedule a time to shoot the portrait but I didn’t hear back from him. My deadline was approaching fast and my editor told me that this story was going to run on the front page. So I did what anyone in my situation would have done, I drove to the fire station and rang the door bell.

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Bleachers without hand rails

© Matthew Jonas 2009/Evergreen Newspapers 2009

Finding a place to mount a strobe was a pain last night. On one side of the gym there were no handrails on the bleachers. They went right up against the wall. The only thing on one wall was a heating/air conditioning vent. To make matters worse the wall was about 15 feet behind the basket which would have thrown awful shadows from the hoop. I did what I could. The results weren’t bad. The setup was a super clamp, a magic arm, an umbrella stand adapter, a cold shoe and a Pocketwizard.

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