Author Archive

Environmantal Portraits

IBM Mainframe Magazine hired me to make an environmental portrait of Mike Giglio, a systems specialist with Shelter Insurance in their Columbia, MO headquarters for their July issue.  Mainframe’s style is to put the subject of their stories into context.  So in this case Shelter Insurance underwrites home and auto insurance.  They wanted a variety of poses and locations in a suburban setting with homes and cars out of focus in the background.  I consulted friend and colleague LG Patterson about locations in Columbia and he suggested one of the old brick streets, which was blocks away from the Shelter Insurance campus.

A two-day window was scheduled for the shoot with Mike and the threat of bad weather pushed us into the afternoon of the backup day.  His window of availability meant high overhead sun and hot.  I found an historic home on Greenwood St. that was surfaced in brick and had large oaks to shade Mike.  At the time I scouted there were cars in front but by the time I returned with my subject they were gone, of course.  Gear wise I used a Canon 5D MkII with a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom and two Quantum Trios as fill.  One with a 26 inch Quantum Octobox at left and a main light at right with a Lumodi Beauty Dish attached.  A Pilot on camera controlled things with a 2-1 ratio between the two lights. The exposure was set in shutter preferred automatic at 1/500th at f3.2.  I always leave my Trios set with high-speed sync enabled and love the ease at which you can control the ambient lighting.  This top photo was  the third frame shot at the first location.

The next day using the same technique I also shot a head and shoulders portrait  of a former colleague for use in her social media.  She liked the studio shots okay but thought a natural setting would be more her, so I set up two Quantum Trios as above and shot her portrait on a raised deck with back lit trees as a background.  The exposure was 1/1250th of a second at f2.8.

Most of my photography involves lighting things in a natural manner and working with regular people, not models.  The ease of use with the Trios means I could travel with my subject and set up quickly while keeping him engaged.  No assistant means less expenses so there is also a profit incentive.  Using Qttl in a ratio format means no meter reading or time wasting.  My subject is not sweaty and uncomfortable on a hot day.  I have four Trios and a Pilot so there is always a backup.


Kevin Manning

In The Heartland with Kevin Manning

Corn FieldI contracted with a publishing and design house to do a location shoot on the farm for Thrive, the corporate magazine of Syngenta.  They wanted a photographic essay with portraits of a farmer that used their products, along with his Syngenta retailer and representative.  The scheduling was done by the client and was supposed to show a Spring time meeting between the farmer and his bio-tech supports.  This was in January.  The client wanted strong skies with clouds and color and hoped for a moody sundown type look.  There was to be a vertical cover and a horizontal inside opener.

CharlieOn the appointed day the weather was perfect, until I got halfway to the location near Montgomery City, Mo.  Then a solid cloud carpet with the occasional sprinkle rolled in.  I made a series of photos with farmer Charlie Cobb, and Harold and Randy from Syngenta and got most of the shot list out of the way, but still no cover.  Hoping that the weather would improve backfired and it just got worse.  The clouds actually looked like they were trying to rotate.  I suddenly realized this was the background I needed for my cover.  It had plenty of dead space at the top and bottom for their cover template, which had type in both areas. If used high speed sync I could shutter that sky into submission. It would also make use of the textures within the clouds and save me hours of masking in a new sky with Photoshop.



Children of the CornFor lighting I used a trio of Trios.  Two were banked to the left at a 45 degree angle with a 26″ Quantum octobox as a modifier on one and a Quantum 12″ striplight softbox on the other.  The stands were sandbagged but the soil was very dry and fluffy and I had to have Harold from Syngenta hold the stands as the winds were gusting to 30mph.  To the right I used the other Trio with a 14″ Lumodi beauty dish as the light modifier, which was also sandbagged and held by Randy, the Syngenta retailer.  They were great sports and so very helpful although Harold told me he could “light this photo op with matches and shoot it on my cellphone.”

I used a Canon 5D MkII at 400ISO and at a 1250th of a second at f2.8.  I had the camera set in shutter priority automatic and the Pilot had the trio of Trios each listed in its own Radio Group with HSS activated.  They were set to QTTL with the Lumodi to the right being set at -1/2 stop and the banked lights to the left set at -1.

The client loved the result.

Kevin Manning

Back to School blues… and reds and a little bit of green.

Commercial Photographer Kevin Manning of St. Louis Missouri joins us today to share the story of a shoot he did for the iPAD news app., “The Daily.”

Meet the Bad Hair Gang of Elsah, Ill. who are suspended for their first week of school for violating the Grafton Elementary School dress code by coloring their hair.

These rapscallions were suspended on the first day of school for having bad hair.

They are spending their suspension exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression, contacting the ACLU, posing for portraits for national publications and TV, and eating ice cream.

Their diminutive ringleader David aka “Littleman”  is but 6 and was suspended in his first hour of first grade.  Their ranks include an honor student and also a cancer awareness activist. I did my part by educating them about color temperature and TTL metering.

This shot was taken using two off-camera Trios, one with a parabolic reflector pointed up for a diffused ceiling bounce and the other with the Quantum bare-bulb diffuser.

The great advantage here was quickness of setup and using QTTL with a pilot.

Kevin Manning