Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cover shoot with Mets third baseman David Wright

Met's 3B David Wright
The Sporting News is one of the all time great sports magazines. One of my professional goals has always been to shoot photos for them, and covers if I was lucky enough. When I got the assignment to shoot Mets third baseman David Wright, I was elated.
David was named to the Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, so we had to shoot this last minute portrait before he left Mets camp and reported to Team USA. My assignment was to shoot the cover photo for the baseball preview issue. I always try and get a good selection of poses and looks to give the editors lots of options. To do this, you try to plan out the shoot so that it runs efficiently and you never waste any of the subject's time.
My assistant Jorge and I arrived at the Met's Training facility in Port St Lucie at around 7am. I had to do a quick scout. In all the years that I have covered spring training baseball, I had never shot in Port St Lucie. I quickly determined that the area around third base would not work since there was too much sunlight.

When I look for portrait locations, the first thing I need is a shady area. I like to have large areas of shadow in the foreground so I can have options with the subject. I always have a Scrim Jim with me to provide shade for the subject in case the sun is not in the right area. Since I had to shoot full body portraits of David, the Scrim Jim would not be able to provide complete shade. I had to set up with the sun 1/4 backlit. That is usually a good compromise.

The first set up was at second base area. I used two Profoto 7B lights. The main light was diffused with a 2'x3' Profoto softbox, positioned behind the camera to the right. The rim light was diffused with a small softbox pointed at the subject's right shoulder, about 10 feet behind the subject and to the left. The sun was hitting the subject's left shoulder, about 30 degrees to the camera and high. I had budgeted about 10 minutes at this photo position to get the fielding and batting shot.

Since I have only 2 Profoto battery powerpacks (2 more Profoto packs on AC power), I would have to fill some time while Jorge moved the portable lights from the second base area to third base for the final photo setup. I decided to light the dugout for a different bat portrait. I would shoot a portrait here to give Jorge about 5 minutes to move the lights.

When David arrived on set, he was pleasant and very focused, He gave me great smiles and serious looks. My favorite shot is him standing with the bat. I thought for sure that would be the cover shot. (The exposure for the bat portrait was 1/250th at F14 , ASA 200 with a Nikon D3 and 70-200mm VR lens. Zoom was set at 100mm)

When I got to the dugout for the second photo set up, I had David sit on the opposite end of the dugout, close to where the bat rack is. I shot the photo with a 300mm lens to really compress the image. I love the dark colors in the dugout because it makes for a real clean background. The main light was a Profoto

1200 acute light with an 5' Octobank. This was set up camera left, about 5 feet from his face. I "faked" sunlight in the dugout with another light, hitting him from above and to his
right diffused with a small softbox. The Sporting News used this photo as the opener in the main spread. (The exposure for the dugout portrait was 1/250th at F9 , ASA 200 with a Nikon D300 and 300mm VR lens).

The final setup was at third base. Since the sun is so strong, I had to use the scrim. It leaves a shadow on the ground, so it is not as good to use when you have to shoot full body images. I like this image, especially if they were to use it as a double truck opener. This was lit with a Profoto 7b as the main light with a 2'X'3' Profoto softbox and a rim light on the left. (The exposure for this third base photo was 1/250th at F14 , ASA 200 with a Nikon D3 and 24-70 lens)

You cannot make nice photos with out great subjects. David Wright is a real easy person to work with. I have never heard any media member, reporter or photographer, ever say anything bad about David. He approaches these photo shoots very professionally and I am grateful for that! David gave me almost 25 minutes for this portrait session. That is an eternity... I am not sure if I will ever get that long to shoot a portrait again!