Sometimes I go to work and I just know I am going to make a picture that day. I can feel it in my bones. When I went to work on August 29, I had that feeling. I didn’t know what assignments I had but I had a good feeling. I remember that feeling distinctly when I got up on the morning of Auburn’s BCS Championship Game out in Arizona. I went around singing the Black Eyed Peas song, “I Gotta Feeling.” That game was one of my best.
The assignment that jumped off the books at me August 29 was somewhat more local and somewhat less large, for lack of a better word, but the same feeling was there. The assignment was for a skydiving grandmother. The catch; she had already done the skydive on her 80th birthday the week before. What to do, what to do?
Obvious solution was to look to the sky. It was a beautiful day with high, clear blue skies. I thought I would just put the sun behind her and strobe her and I would have something. I starting plotting ways to get this person, whom I assumed to be pretty spry, in a pose that would convey the joy of flying through the sky. I drove out Danville Road filled with all kinds of hope. I was literally brimming with optimism. Then I got to the house. Wouldn’t you know it. The family lived in a secluded spot back in the woods with the house surrounded by really tall trees. There were only two spots of clear blue sky. Fortunately for me, the land was pretty hilly and would at least give me the opportunity to get below the lady.
Trudy Amon turned out to be every bit the delight I hoped she would be. She was very gracious and agreed to do pretty nearly anything I could think up. I went back outside to scout the location and set up the lighting. There turned out to be only one spot that would give me the right angle on the sun, an appropriate opening in the trees and enough blue sky to make a relatively convincing photo. I kept the lighting as simple as possible. I used a Lumedyne 200ws strobe in a small softbox. I used her grandson as a voice activated light stand.
Trudy agreed to lift her hands as if she were soaring through the skies. I had her grandson lift the light stand so the softbox was as nearly overhead as possible without getting into the field of view. After a couple of test frames, I had my exposure dialed in. Now came the tricky part. A normal camera angle was, well, boring. Painfully boring to be truthful. I started turning and twisting until I had an angle that was pleasing and tried vertical and horizontal compositions.
The frame I settled on as a favorite was a horrible twisted framing somewhere between horizontal and vertical that wasn’t really either; although, I obviously position the frame as a horizontal. You can actually rotate this frame to either a horizontal or a vertical. It gives me a bit of vertiginous feeling either way so I figured that was about the right way to do it. I left the assignment having met an enchanting woman and having fulfilled that feeling that I was going to make a nice picture that day. So I guess me and the Black Eyed Peas pulled one off out in the Morgan County countryside.