CUTLINE: D.J. Tyson of Grovetown High School is “all over the field” according to his coaches. Tyson is a kick returner, punt returner, wide receiver and running back. Head coach Rodney Holder calls him “a game changer and incredibly fast.”

THOUGHTS: My editor John asked me to produce a series of portraits highlighting our annual football pre-season standouts.

Sixteen athletes.

A theme.

A day to brainstorm.

No problem?

We sat down with the sports dept. the following day and I pitched three ideas. One was a military theme. Another was a metal texture theme. The last was a theme based off the term, “Friday night lights.”

The latter was the best of the ideas and to be honest, even though I had the dazzling thoughts in my head, the execution was going to be a challenge. I had never light painted but I wanted to do new things that I had never seen done before. With that said, I was headed into sink or swim.

Logistically it was not a problem because we were going to shoot it in the studio. But I needed the equipment. Personally I was okay investing in equipment in making the series possible, I knew how big it was going to be.

D.J. was the easiest and most fun to work with in the bunch. The best portraits are those who are willing to push limits. In this case I asked if he was comfortable with yelling. I didn’t just want his mouth gaping open, because it’s noticeable when it’s not real. I wanted vein-in-neck-popping and all.

D.J. did short bursts of yells. I popped the flash with a 10 degree grid spot and then started painting in complete darkness for 30 seconds. My light painting tool was a electronic LED pinwheel that spun when you pressed the button. It flashed reds and blues but only the reds registered so nicely on the frame, minus small hints of blues. I was okay with that.

My arm went in a spiral pattern in three layers. Background. Middle ground. Foreground. I wanted a three dimensional effect so chose to play off those layers.

To be honest, I got it right after 7-8 tries. But I decided to push it and play with it. After about 20 frames, I knew what I had was exactly what I wanted.

In the end. Simple but complex and no Photoshop to boot. I call it a successful studio session.

Our now departed video editor Steve produced a wonderful video piece on the series. Unfortunately they don’t contain my thoughts on this particular portrait but it gives the jest of what I was doing.

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Camera data: 35mm, f/9, ISO 200, 25.5 seconds
Date Taken: 28-Jul-2010 22:57:23

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