Earlier this year we received a call from our editors at Field and Stream magazine to photograph their Heroes of Conservation finalists for 2013. Since 2005, the magazine has been profiling and recognizing a handful of dedicated sportsmen and women who work to protect, improve, or create wildlife habitat and embody the spirit of conservation.
Weâ€™ve had the honor of meeting and photographing some of these heroes in the past, (you may remember we blogged about the shoots last fall) and this year was particularly significant because we were given the task to photograph all six of the Heroes. Taking us from Wisconsin to Maryland, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, and Oklahoma in the span of two weeks, this assignment was a whirlwind tour of the country. We wrapped up these shoots having met and made great photos of six inspiring conservationists. We’re excited to share the stories and the behind the scenes for each shoot – kicking it off with our first Hero: Jeff Gorr, the chairman of The Sheboygan County Greenwing Day. Keep reading for more of our adventure with Jeff…
We were off to an early start in Wisconsin, meeting up with Jeff and then traveling out to a restored wetland project that he uses as duck and goose hunting grounds.
As with almost any of our Field & Stream shoots, we jumped right into the thick of it, setting up our tripod right in the marsh with Jeff while he practiced a few duck calls for the camera. Just out of frame and directly next to me is our lighting for this shot, perched precariously on the bank of the pond and tightly held onto to prevent any falls into the water. Pond scum on tripod legs isn’t so bad – pond scum on an octabank is not as easy to clean.
To get a bit more technical about our setup, we needed a light that was portable and easy to move around, yet still could have a nice contrasty and shaping output on our subject. We opted for a small, 36” octabank and positioned it just outside of the pond, at approximately a 45Â° angle to our subject. We wanted to work just above the ambient exposure, using the sun as a natural back-light, but also providing a base exposure for the entire scene. Firing the octabank at 1500 w/s, we were using our flash exposure to add some extra emphasis and shape to the subject.
Once we knocked out our firstÂ shot with Jeff and his dog, we setup for a few more portraits nearby in some deeper reeds. We kept the light similar, trying to focus it very directly on our subject.
After shooting a handful of the options at the pond, we moved to a nearby field where Jeff hunts geese and setup for another portrait.
He was quick to remind us that even though his goose decoys may not look believable up close from the camera’s point of view, no geese he’s hunting ever manage to get that close. Guess Jeff is a good shot.
Our shoot even came with a bonus lesson on gun safety for yours truly – and of course a great opportunity for a bad-ass light test photo. Don’t worry, it was not loaded.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more new portraits and behind the scenes from our adventures shooting the 2013 Heroes of Conservation.