In The Heartland with Kevin Manning

Corn FieldI contracted with a publishing and design house to do a location shoot on the farm for Thrive, the corporate magazine of Syngenta.  They wanted a photographic essay with portraits of a farmer that used their products, along with his Syngenta retailer and representative.  The scheduling was done by the client and was supposed to show a Spring time meeting between the farmer and his bio-tech supports.  This was in January.  The client wanted strong skies with clouds and color and hoped for a moody sundown type look.  There was to be a vertical cover and a horizontal inside opener.

CharlieOn the appointed day the weather was perfect, until I got halfway to the location near Montgomery City, Mo.  Then a solid cloud carpet with the occasional sprinkle rolled in.  I made a series of photos with farmer Charlie Cobb, and Harold and Randy from Syngenta and got most of the shot list out of the way, but still no cover.  Hoping that the weather would improve backfired and it just got worse.  The clouds actually looked like they were trying to rotate.  I suddenly realized this was the background I needed for my cover.  It had plenty of dead space at the top and bottom for their cover template, which had type in both areas. If used high speed sync I could shutter that sky into submission. It would also make use of the textures within the clouds and save me hours of masking in a new sky with Photoshop.



Children of the CornFor lighting I used a trio of Trios.  Two were banked to the left at a 45 degree angle with a 26″ Quantum octobox as a modifier on one and a Quantum 12″ striplight softbox on the other.  The stands were sandbagged but the soil was very dry and fluffy and I had to have Harold from Syngenta hold the stands as the winds were gusting to 30mph.  To the right I used the other Trio with a 14″ Lumodi beauty dish as the light modifier, which was also sandbagged and held by Randy, the Syngenta retailer.  They were great sports and so very helpful although Harold told me he could “light this photo op with matches and shoot it on my cellphone.”

I used a Canon 5D MkII at 400ISO and at a 1250th of a second at f2.8.  I had the camera set in shutter priority automatic and the Pilot had the trio of Trios each listed in its own Radio Group with HSS activated.  They were set to QTTL with the Lumodi to the right being set at -1/2 stop and the banked lights to the left set at -1.

The client loved the result.

Kevin Manning

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