The final word
Joe explains how he shot two Wild West-inspired portraits with a very different feel in just a few minutes using the same basic lighting set-up…
Joe McNally on a Wild West shootout – using a simple lighting set-up and Nikon DSLR
Finished up a two-week stint at Santa Fe Workshops, and had some wonderful folks in front of the lens for class demos. John Wayne Haynes has the classic face that can only be arrived at after years of cowboy life (main image). Likewise, Billy Manns (inset). Both were shot standing in the same place, with the same lighting set-up.
The portrait of John in B&W was done with one of my favourite combos, the D500 fitted with the 16-80mm DX. As a camera and lens duo, they’re a super-light and sharp tandem. The vertical of Billy was shot with the D5 and a 105mm f/1.4 lens.
Pretty straight up, no frills light. Two 1x4 Profoto softboxes were placed right and left, and my subjects lived in between. With Billy, because Trey, his dog, chose to pose with him (he never moved, amazingly wonderful pooch), we had to move the lights back a little bit to accommodate the camera angle. With John, they were in much tighter.
I realized, when I shot the full-length portrait of Billy to include Trey and the grass, it gave the pic a bit more of a ‘studio’ look and feel than I normally go for out there in the world, but I ended up liking it. It’s also shot at f/11, which means it’s way sharp. Both sessions were done back to back and because I was teaching, and yakking my way through the sessions, they were very brief. Got Billy in front of camera for a first frame at 6.28 and was done at 6.34. The D500 portrait of John was done in two minutes, according to the camera.
The light camera left was a Profoto B4, which is a wondrous monster of a location battery unit; the light camera right was a B1, which is a go-to source out there away from electric. Glad I had them both.