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Hi this is Jay P. Morgan. Today I’m going to take you through the process of photographing Lincoln at Gettysburg. Yesterday we came up here to Little Round Top. We settled Lincoln here on the corner. He’s on the rock wall that literally would have been where Chamberlin’s troops were at The Battle of Gettysburg as they repelled the Confederate forces coming up the hill. Let’s take a look at that image we shot yesterday and break it down.
Here’s the ambient image we started out with, exposing for the background.
Here’s our camera setup.
On camera left we had a Baja B4 with a medium Dynalite softbox in it. I put a grid on it at first, to pool the light so it was just on Lincoln.
We looked at that and I didn’t love it. So we pulled the grid off to open the light up. It gave us some great highlights across the rocks on that camera left side. It looked fabulous. So the light was slightly behind Lincoln, which is always where I want the light to be. I want it to be just off from camera so it’s lighting towards camera. That gives us a little bit of shadows towards camera. But then it was a little dark overall so we put a Baja B6 behind us, with an umbrella, just to open up the scene a little bit.
We were exposing for the ambient that was in the trees behind us. With the sun going down I treated it just like you would a sunset. I slowly lengthened my shutter to keep that ambient exposure in the background matching my strobes that I was controlling with the aperture. As I balanced those two I thought the shot was beautiful. We see Lincoln looking at the Gettysburg address. We see him with his glasses looking at the address. We see him just kneeling there in prayer.
Everyone knows how much I love smoke. The last thing we did was put a little smoke in the background. I did not fly with one of my Rosco smoke machines. Instead we used a smoke grenade. We walked that through the background, to give us a little bit of smoke behind Lincoln. It looked really pretty. We were trying to play with the natural current of the wind up here to find out where it was going to go. You know, drop a leaf, see which way it flows. Trying to get that smoke to go behind him, to swirl around the trees and give us a nice highlight. I think in the end we’ll go into Photoshop, put some rays coming through the trees and composite to just kind of give a little hint of light direction and sense. That will round the image out.
I had my SKB kind of studio-on-the-road case, which is fabulous, a camera case, and that was about it. A few things we threw into our briefcase but if you look at how we packed for Gettysburg it’ll give you a better idea what we brought. So it was pretty mobile, but we did hire a person when we got here on location to help us: a young man, Graham, that came up to haul equipment. We went into a sandwich shop and I told the owner, “Hey, do you know anybody who can work for us today? We’re desperate. We need another person, we’re short.” And he called a girl who’s in photo and she couldn’t do it. And he called Graham. And Graham came and helped us out so that was very cool. So you know it never hurts to ask.
We had a fabulous Abraham Lincoln here at Gettysburg. We brought him in from Pittsburgh. His name was Rick Miller. He was excellent. Looked the look. He was fabulous, did a great job.
So there’s working location. It was a fairly small amount of equipment for me. Other people would say that’s a huge amount of equipment. Lincoln did make the comment, “You’re as slow as Matthew Brady when you shoot.” Oh no, thank you. Matthew Brady who’d drive up in a great big wagon and set up a huge camera. And it’d take him like, six or eight hours to do one ph–. I am as slow as Matthew Brady, aren’t I? But I love the results and that’s all that really matters.
I hope you learned something from this little tutorial out on location, hope you gained something from this experience as I did. Thanks for watching.
Keep those cameras rolllin’, keep on clickin’.