Or, maybe, Little House on the Prairie? Dunno. Doesn’t really matter, cause I just like the picture. One of those things about being a photog, is that you can occasionally make a notion a reality by making a picture of it.
Let me explain. I teach a bit at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and during the lighting classes, we often go to pretty cool locations, with some models, who are also pretty cool, and try some portraiture and some lighting solutions. We use everything—big strobes, small flashes, reflectors, Octas, strip lights, beauty dishes, and even, when one presents, a lace curtain.
Maddie here is Mawgie’s daughter. Mawgie is one of the loveliest, liveliest people I have ever met, and she brought along Maddie to a class we had recently. Everybody had a ball with her, and being a bit of a ham, Maddie didn’t mind all the photographic attention.
You know how faces stick in your head sometimes? You just see a face, and it hangs around in your photo imagination. When I saw Maddie, I thought, you know, one of these days I might try to get a picture of that kid.
So we were doing one of the Kelby Online Training videos on lighting, and we were pretty determined to get out on location and away from Tampa, where we had shot the first four. Hello Santa Fe! Phone call to Mawgie. Whadddaya think?
Next thing we know, we found ourselves at Eaves Movie Ranch, run by Thomas Wingate, a dear friend and possessor of one of the great all time American faces. Thomas has been the subject of more photos than Carter’s got pills and he deserves every one of ‘em. He honors the lens with an instantaneous combination of grit and dignity that you just don’t run across every day of the week.
At Eaves they have this old ramshackle (actually, everything out there is pretty ramshackle) saloon that always gives up a good crack at a photo. I’ve wanted to do a couple of simple shots in there over time, and never really had a chance, till Maddie sat down at this dust laden piano, which stands by a lace curtain, yellowed with age and dirt. Pulled the curtain over the window, and she dressed in frontier wardrobe, courtesy of another great cowboy subject, Thadd Turner, who’s got this terrific stash of cowboy and cowgirl duds.
Put an Elinchrom Ranger out in the street with a long throw reflector, and just pointed it at the window from about ten feet away. Ran it on the B port of the Ranger, which gives only 30% of whatever power setting you have programmed, hence the light was real minimal, just a small pop through the curtain. That enabled me to shoot it with my favorite telephoto, the Nikkor 200mm f2, wide open at f2, at 250th of a second.
And of course Donald came along. Already blogged a bit about his decency, wit, and presence in front of a camera. Told him I did that, and he was quite pleased, though he hasn’t seen it. He admitted he’s been having a problem figuring out how to turn his damn computer on. He tries to keep things simple. Doesn’t have a cell phone. He did tell me he and his honey complicated their lives a bit this year, though. “We learned a new dance step,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
The pix of Donald and Thomas were shot, by the way, with one light. Again, an Elinchrom Ranger, stuck outsided the building and bouncing down into a white sheet, mimicking and amplifying the hard sunlight that was bouncing around out there.
I always say a bad day in the field beats a good day at the office, anytime. Gotta figure out what a great day in the field compares to, cause Tuesday was one of those days.