Marquette Paddling Portraits


Well, yesterday was my first assignment for the new year. We kicked things off with a trip down to Marquette to create some portraits of Sam Crowley and Nancy Uschold of Sea Kayak Specialists. Sam and Nancy are kayak instructor instructors and are some of the people responsible for making sure many of the new instructors here in the Midwest know there stuff.

Apparently they are pretty good at what they do and because of their commitment to quality instruction they are being featured in an upcoming article in one of the paddling magazines. This is the point where I come in. The magazine in question was in need of some images of Sam and Nancy and for whatever reason… too little caffeine, still hungover, ???… the editor asked me to take them.

So, yesterday morning I packed up the car, picked up Sam Gardner in Baraga(sam came mostly to surf… but I put him to work for a bit), and headed for Marquette. We arrived at Nancy’s house just before 8:30 and we started setting up in her garage. For the first set of portraits I wanted to do some clean individual shots on white. The magazine had not requested these images, but we were there and you never know what you might need in the future. So, I set up my foursquare softbox behind the subject with an silver umbrella directly above and in front. I then took two sets of images… one in casual clothes and the other with Nancy and Sam in their paddling kit. Here you can see the black and white conversions. I am really liking this type of portrait. It is easy and quick to setup, produces good results, and the simple nature of the image really lets you focus on the person. I can understand why this type of setup has been so widely used in different types of portrait collections.




Anyway, after the headshots we moved the lights around and went to work creating a portrait of both Sam and Nancy in front of their kayaks which were stored in the garage for winter. I was hoping to create something of a season neutral image. We used the kayaks as the background, set up two sb26’s as rim lights high and out of the frame on the left and right. Then I used my Foursquare softbox with 2 sb26’s as the main light. The only issue I has was trying to control the falloff from the main light. No matter where I positioned it, I just couldn’t seem to keep it from contaminating the background. If I moved it in really close so that the light fell off more quickly the difference in exposure across Sam and Nancy was too great for my tastes. If I moved the main light back to even out the exposure more light fell on the background. Ideally I would have used a boom to support the light directly above and slightly in front of the subjects. This would even out the exposure across the subjects and allow me to get it close enough that the light would fall off quickly enough to no contaminate the background.

Below you can see that the main light was situated at camera right. Nancy’s shoulder is a little hot, but not bad. The spill from the main light was limited to the left side and I kinda like the light to dark gradient. I was thinking about this issue and at the time I wish I had a boom, but the reality is that I could have just move the main light in tight and exposed the frame so that Nancy’s shoulder was just a little hot. Then I could have added another strobe into an umbrella set as far behind me as possible to serve as a kinda of on-axis fill to help bring up the darker area around Sam. I don’t really know if this would have produced anything appealing, but I would have been worth a shot. I just have to remember to use what I have and not wish for things I didn’t.


After the garage session we moved out to the breakwall at Presque Isle. Here I positioned Sam and Nancy on the far right of the frame using the waves crashing against the wall and the lighthouse as background elements. I did this because the sample image that was sent to me had a similar appearance. I figure they might need that space for text. The conditions were very… uhhh… how to put it… grey. The water, sky and snow were all about the same tone. So, I decided to gel the strobes and push the ambient into the blue spectrum. The helps the subjects pop and adds a bit of drama to the scene.

After the shots on the breakwall we jumped down to some ice covered rocks nearby and did a quick session keeping the light setup the same. Sam Gardner was kind enough to hold the light so that we were a bit more mobile and I didn’t have to worry about everything blowing off into the lake.

Well, I hope this was interesting for those of you that frequent my site. If anyone out there has any suggestions or criticisms I’d love to hear them. Keep in mind that I’m just making this stuff up as I go. Another assignment tomorrow here in town… stay tuned.





2 thoughts on “Marquette Paddling Portraits

  1. sam

    Great job Greg! Thanks for the great photos, glad to see you got surf photos as well. All the best – sam crowley

  2. Pingback: The Daily Globe | Kayaking » Blog Archive » Hello World

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