Not sure if you get over to our Flickr group, but you really should because our readers are posting some pretty cool stuff.
One of those posting some impressive images is Brice Burton. He recently posted images of firefighters that I really, really liked. I asked if he would share the details behind them and he kindly said "yes".
How did this project come about?
"The "firefighter" project came about because I had been doing so many photo jobs lately that didn't really fit my style... I was pretty much just taking the jobs to pay the bills and this had a definite affect on my creativity. Like Zack Arias, I don't show everything that I shoot, I only show those things that fit my style or that can help out my portfolio. I finally found a little bit of time to do a project that I knew would fit my style and help my portfolio. When deciding what to shoot for this project I decided on our local firefighters because these guys are generally very passionate about what they do and I thought they would enjoy having some creative portraits made. I shoot for a local health and family magazine and thought it would be cool to do a series of photos featuring "Somerset's Finest" in the magazine."
Why did you shoot them in the style you did?
"I decided to shoot the photos as I did because one, I love lighting and it impacts the scene. I also love how I can manipulate the lights to achieve the results I'm looking for. Two, I wanted the subjects to give an intimate feeling to the photos but still wanted to show enough environment around them to help tell the story in the photos. This is why pretty much every thing is shot 3/4 and up. Three, going into the shoot I knew I wanted a hard, gritty, and dramatic feel so that played into how I decided to shoot the photos. I knew I would have to use harder light sources. I knew what I wanted to do in post production so I shot in a way that would make the over all post process easier."
What gear did you use for this shoot?
"Camera- Canon 7D Lens- Canon ef 70-200 2.8L / Shot at- 100mm Aperture- f6.3 / Shutter speed - 1/250 for sync speed of strobes / ISO- 100. Main light - Canon 430 exII shot thru a 32" Westcott umbrella mounted on a mono pod. I used the small strobe as key light because it was lighter for my wife to hold on the monopod. Backlight- Paul C Buff Alien Bee 800 with a bare reflector powered by the Buff vagabond system. We set up and fired the back light first to see what affect it had on the scene because we knew what the main light was going to do. After we got out backlight dialed in to what we wanted we came in with the main light high, in front and slightly camera right of our subject. I knew the umbrella would diffuse the light but the smaller flash would also give a harder more shadowy look because of the smaller flash. To top it off we rubbed some soot on his face for that gritty look."
How did you process these images?
"My work flow for stuff like this consists of adobe bridge, taken into camera RAW, and then into Photoshop. For this particular series of photographs I made my color corrections and booted the clarity up to around 50 in camera RAW. Then in Photoshop I did some pretty detailed dodging and burning to pop the highlights and darken the shadows, giving the photo some contrast. I also used some high pass filters, but the image "look" was brought about with the lighting of the actual photograph and then some very detailed dodging and burning. This gives the photo a Dave Hill-ish effect to the photo but I chose not to go too extreme.
A big thank you to Brice for taking the time to share both the images and information on there creation with our readers, if you would like to learn more about Burt and to see more of his work be sure to check out his website and his blog, you can also follow him on twitter at @briceburtonimag.