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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One From This Weekend

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

I made this picture on Friday night at Evergreen High School. That gym is one of my favorites to light. I’ll take good action and good color over ISO 3200 and a motor drive any day. This picture was made using techniques learned from strobist.com. Speaking of the strobist, David Hobby himself will be visiting Denver on March 22, 2011 along with Joe McNally on the flash bus tour. If you are looking for a good (cheap) workshop that will most likely be packed full of information about getting your flash off of your camera this is it.

Lighting High School Gyms for Basketball

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Editors Note: While I am compiling my Year in Review photo galleries, I thought it would be a good time to post a few things I had been keeping in the bank. Enjoy.

The frozen parts of me are glad to be off of the football field and into a more temperature controlled environment. I’m talking about the start of the high school basketball season, of course! With the change of scenery comes a change in the equipment. This year I have streamlined my lighting equipment and managed to pack everything I need to light a gym into one small backpack, my Think Tank Photo Airport Antidote. Many shooters have given up on lighting gyms with the introduction of cameras that are capable of producing low noise, high ISO pictures. I still like the thrill of timing a picture just right and making an image that has good color to go along with good action.

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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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Yes Virginia, That is the actual score

I thought that I should post a couple of photos from my first high school basketball game of the year. I always try to show up early so that I can set up my lights, make sure everything works and get ready for the game. When I walked in, the photo above is what I saw. Wow. That was the actual score from the junior varsity game. Evergreen absolutely destroyed Battle Mountain. I know some of those mountain schools have a hard time getting enough people together for both JV and varsity squads. That is the worst loss that I have ever seen. The funny thing is, the team hardly seemed as devastated as I thought they should have been. It was almost as if they were expecting to lose big. Just wow.

The other photo is a wide angle shot from the varsity game. It almost worked….almost. When shooting with lights you get something that I refer to as “stupid-arm-shadows” syndrome. It happens when an otherwise great moment is ruined by a stupid-arm-shadows. Wide angle shots from basketball games are hard to do well. This was an attempt. Maybe I will put it in the photo gallery-maybe not. I will try again next time and hopefully avoid the stupid-arm-shadows. Its really hard to write using a trackpad.