These photos of Ryan with his Series II Land Rover might as well be titled, “The Quintessence Of Manliness”. He let me drive his truck, and I imagine it would be similar to rumble about inside a toolbox.
His truck, being the character it is, was the inspiration for this project, and the other elements were selected around it. The wardrobe choice was simple to work out, and I think the denim on denim look is perfect here. I like how the patina of old leather products, like his boots, always translates well on camera.
Fortunately, Ryan knew of the perfect location, because I had been racking my brain trying to think of a good place to work. My biggest wish was to position his truck near a river; possibly slightly in a river. He suggested Dodge Park, and so that’s where we went.
When we got there, my assistants and I put all our gear in the back of Ryan’s truck, and we started driving around the loop to scout our first position to set up. We navigated through some tightly spaced large boulders to get to an open area next to some nice trees that would make a great background. I wanted the sun to be shining through the trees, and to give a little crest of light on the edge of the truck, and on Ryan.
Once we got the Land Rover positioned I worked out a pose for our subject that gives a sense of relaxed confidence, which is something he exudes naturally. To light him I used a Softlight Silver “beauty dish”, which is about 7 feet up, and to the right of the camera. I saw that was working nicely to illuminate the foreground, but the trees in the back were very dark, as well as under the truck, so I added a second light with an umbrella to bring all that stuff into proper exposure. The strobe in the back also allowed me to get a nice highlight on the side of Ryan’s head, opposite the sun. The sun was at the correct angle to get just enough lens flare to convey, “warm, sunny afternoon”.
Moving on to the second shot, we had to occupy the entire boat access point. We didn’t have to deal with other people waiting because the water level was almost low enough to ford the river on foot, hopping from rock to rock, without ever getting wet. Still, we did have to convince a patrolling park ranger that we would move if someone showed up with their boat.
By the time we got positioned for the second shot we were racing against the setting of the sun behind the trees. I used the Softlight reflector again as the key light, but removed the umbrella from the back light because it was giving an umbrella shaped reflection off the side of the truck. What worked best for the backlight was to use the bare head, which gave sharp and smooth highlights, but also allowed the light to spill across the whole side of the truck. The last details were to have an assistant use a large collapsable reflector to bounce the headlights back onto the grill of the Land Rover, and to have Ryan straddle the sunbeam that was right at his feet.
I used my 50mm lens for both of these portraits, at around f/2.8 or f/4. The shutter speed for the vertical shot was 1/180th, and the horizontal one shot was at 1/125th, for a little more ambient light.
Some day I’d like to own a truck like that. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself whenever I look at these photos.