Here in farangland it was a cold and snowy holiday season with this Christmas days temperatures dropping into the low teens.  The phone rang and on the other end was a new friend we’ve made, a young lady of Thai ethnicity who was adopted by American parents when she was just two years old.    She’s lived as much as an American life as any other citizen and hasn’t been back to Thailand since she left as a toddler.  Her son who is serving in the Marines was home for Christmas and leaving the next day early and they couldn’t find a place to get a mother/son portrait made.   Could I help.

 

Here in farangland it was a cold and snowy holiday season with this Christmas days temperatures dropping into the low teens.  The phone rang and on the other end was a new friend we’ve made, a young lady of Thai ethnicity who was adopted by American parents when she was just two years old.    She’s lived as much as an American life as any other citizen and hasn’t been back to Thailand since she left as a toddler.  Her son who is serving in the Marines was home for Christmas and leaving the next day early and they couldn’t find a place to get a mother/son portrait made.   Could I help.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8 @F5.6 1/160th 42mm ISO 200

 

Of course I can.  I did say he was a Marine right?   And you probably remember my son was a Marine.  And in a special way all Marines, all of our armed forces, are our sons and daughters.   We ask of them everything, up to and including their lives.  What don’t we owe them.

After a few questions we determined we wanted the portrait to reflect their mother and son relationship and their visit this Christmas as expressed through the weather and possibly lighting scheme.  Some looking at the portrait should immediately feel their close relationship and know it was a cold winter day.   Easy  downtown area to make pictures.

 

Some basic techniques we employed was a dual light setup, a key and fill. If I’d had a third I would have placed it behind the subjects of a bit of backlight. Even though it was nipping at the single digits the sun was bright and that didn’t fit the mood I wanted. I put the Canon 5d Mark II into manual mode, and exposed for two stops below making sure to balance my aperture, and ISO for image quality while making sure my shutter speed remained within the sync speeds of my flashes (30-200th).  This has the effect of dropping the exposure of the background by two stops giving it the appearance of dusk.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8 @F5.6 1/160th 42mm ISO 200

 

Some basic techniques we employed was a dual light setup, a key and fill. If I’d had a third I would have placed it behind the subjects of a bit of backlight. Even though it was nipping at the single digits the sun was bright and that didn’t fit the mood I wanted. I put the Canon 5d Mark II into manual mode, and exposed for two stops below making sure to balance my aperture, and ISO for image quality while making sure my shutter speed remained within the sync speeds of my flashes (30-200th).  This has the effect of dropping the exposure of the background by two stops giving it the appearance of dusk. 

Next, I positioned the two lights at 45 degrees with the fill/key at a 2:1 ratio.  Set them to manual mode and dialed in just enough power for a full exposure with my key, and half that with my fill.  Posing them was easy and came naturally for this mother and son, so what makes or breaks this portrait will come down to the feelings their expressions will impart to the viewer.

The top portrait is my favorite.  The Marine looks at peace next to his mother, a calm before the storm look, while the mother looks on pensively, perhaps already dreading his next assignment while at the same time being filled with pride.  The second with both engaging the camera is far more common.  Our children can turn out to be many great things, but a U.S. Marine has to be near the top of any list.  Semper fi Marine.