Thursday, June 2, 2011

35/52 Brett Swinney

One thing I may or may not have mentioned thus far in my project is that despite being EXTREMELY clumsy, I have an uncanny talent for climbing on things. Getting up to a precarious high place? No problem. No ladder? I'll figure it out. Staying up there as long as necessary? Can do. I may well trip over my own feet the second I get back on the ground, but at least until then I'm safe.

Brett Swinney is a fine art photographer from Chicago, Illinois. He is a graduate of Columbia Colleges' photography program and is deeply involved in the Chicago art scene. He organizes the art for the Milwaukee avenue arts festival. It's a large weekend long event in the Logan Square neighborhood, comprising of open galleries, live music, a large indoor art market, performance art, and more. Organizing such an event, especially in a city as bureaucratic as Chicago is no small task, and Brett and his colleagues have worked hard to insure that the third installment of this anual event will go off without a hitch. The festival runs from July 29th through the 31st, and you can find more information about it right here at their awesome website.

We ended up doing two different looks for the shoot. I shot brett in his art space at his home. In the background you can see a sculpture which he told me he's been working on for several years. I wanted to bounce a flash off the ceiling as a hair light, but Brett was too close to the wall to make that work. I ended up keying from camera left. Here are a few of those:

It was a tight space to shoot in, and in order to properly frame the sculpture I had to lay down on the ground in a very uncomfortable position. It worked out though, and I like these images. We then decided to go out and shoot in an alley. Brett said he often finds himself gravitating to alleys, whether for photographic purposes or simply to get away from the congestion and noise of the street. We ended up shooting in front of a stencil that Brett had seen before and liked. In order to get the perspective I wanted, my climbing skills were required. I pulled a trash can over (the kind with wheels) and proceeded to hop up on top of it. The main light was low camera right, given the perspective, and I used a 43" silver-over-white umbrella with a sto-fen. Here's what the frame looked like without the strobe:

Forgive me Brett for putting up a picture of you blinking, but unfortunately this is the only ambient frame I had. As with a lot of portraits I've been doing recently, the difference is subtle, but I feel it adds a lot to the final image.

Strobist Info:
SB-800 low camera right through silver-over-white umbrella with sto-fen diffuser

Camera Settings:
1/160 f/6.3 at ISO 200
Nikon 17-55 f/2.8@ 32mm

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