Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I did this portrait of Boston Red Sox pitcher Bryce Florie for Sports Illustrated back in 2000, in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, just across the river from Charleston. Bryce had been hit in the face during a game by a line drive, the baseball shattering the bones around his eye. The story was about his injury, and his comeback to baseball. The lump on his cheekbone is still visible in the photo, on the right side of his face, on camera left.
My assistant and I met Bryce at his house, and we decided to go to a nearby baseball field that was part of some local recreation league. Unfortunately, the gates were all locked so we had to park on the side of the road and climb a fence that was covered by dense brush, hoisting ourselves and the equipment over. I did the bulk of my work for the shoot with Bryce posed on the pitcher's mound, using broad light, I think with a softbox, to get a nice full length portrait for the magazine. The shoot went well and Bryce was very accommodating, especially considering that the baseball I brought for the shoot was the first one he had touched since the game in which his face was shattered. As we were packing up, I looked over my shoulder and saw this beautiful sky shaping up over the harbor just beyond the trees in the outfield. I quickly took out my battery powered Lumedyne kit, no time to plug in for AC power. I wanted a dramatic, spotlight effect, emphasizing the lump from the injury, and put a metal tube on the flash tube to create a snoot. I keep a secondary snoot on the metal snoot, a piece of old manila envelope wrapped around the tube that slides back and forth and allows me to further narrow and focus the light. I put a bit of CTO warming gel over the tube, to make the subjects's face warmer to contrast with the deep blue sky, making sure to light the side of the face where the lump from the injury was visible. I spot metered the sky with a through the lens meter on a Nikon FM2, and calculated the exposure to balance the sky with the strobe. I was shooting hand held with the Hasselblad, 80mm lens I believe, at around f/5.6 or so, with the shutter speed at about 1/8 or 1/4 second, and got a few frames off before the sky went away...