Story Behind the Photo-Freeman Patterson

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Many people ask me about how photographs I’ve done were taken. Lots of interest in the techniques or technical aspects. The Story Behind The Photo series answers those questions! This one is a portrait of world renowned photographer Freeman Patterson.
If you see any shots of mine that you are dying to know how they were done, send me an email and I’ll post em.

As a photographer, being assigned to photograph one of your peers with the stature of Freeman Patterson would scare anyone. Having known Freeman personally for a few years however made me a bit less apprehensive. The assignment was made more difficult however as he insisted that he would not be photographed with a camera, slides, or taking photographs.

As we went through his house he showed me some recent slides images he had captured. One of which was a scene of backlit trees with light shining through, with the trees blurred by camera movement, a technique he uses frequently. When I asked him where the photograph was taken, he said in the woods just outside his front door. We ventured into those woods, and I saw the same type of light as the photograph he showed me. I had him stand so he was backlit by the trees, then using a slow shutter speed I began attempting various blurring techniques like zooming, juggling, and rotating the camera during the exposure.
This created the interesting background, but of course Freeman was backlit so he was just a black shape. So to get him in the photograph, I used a flash off camera to fire at the end of the exposure, which then produced a sharp Freeman in the middle of the blur. The fact he was backlit was very important, because if the same light was on him that was on the background, it would have recorded him as a blur as well as the flash. When I showed the photos to Freeman, he asked me how I was able to get him sharp in the frame…now that was cool, I was able to teach Freeman Patterson something!!!

Below are some outtakes from the shoot using different movement!

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Technical info:
Canon EOS-1D Mark II N
Lens: 35mm
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 1/4
Aperture: F11
Whitebalance: Daylight
Metering: MANUAL of course!

Noel Chenier

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Photographer and teacher
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  1. Noel, I am going to love this site!