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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

March 30, 2013 at 10:13 PM

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Beyond the Byline: Portrait for Mariner's special section


This was my third year of covering the Seattle Mariners baseball Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz. My main task has always been to make a portrait to go on the cover of our annual Seattle Mariners special section for the newspaper.

This year's theme for the section was how the team was "Turning on the Power" by signing heavy-hitting players, including Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, and Raul Ibanez. My photo editor, Danny Gawlowski, suggested the idea of dropping a single light bulb into the frame to help convey the theme of power. It was subtle but we both thought it was a creative way to illustrate the idea, so we went with it.

In my planning, I imagined a fairly large space to execute the shot. After all, it was an image of three big athletes together. Morse was 6'5", 245 pounds, and I knew the other two couldn't be far behind in size.

But when I got to the practice facility, the only space available was a small maintenance/laundry room. The bigger rooms were already taken by media who arrived earlier that week.

It was barely large enough to setup my lights, but my assistant, Aaron Lavinsky, and I made it work.

Aaron helped me suspend the light bulb (an old-fashioned Edison bulb) from the conduits in the ceiling. A black canvas backdrop helped obscure a wall full of tool bins and gave me a clean palette from which to work.

A Profoto Pro-7B pack (battery-operated) powered two Profoto Pro-7B heads that were placed about four and a half feet behind and to the sides of our subjects. These gave the rimlights on the players and separated them from the background.

Another Pro-7B pack powered one Pro-7B head in a Beauty Dish on a boom in front, about eight feet away. This provided the key light for the players. I was careful to position it low enough so the light wouldn't be blocked by the bills from their caps.

Weeks of preparation came down to 12 minutes of shooting, yielding 18 frames total. After the shoot, they ran off to their morning practice.

It was likely my most intense, and challenging portrait shoot in my three trips to Spring Training. But with some help from others, I was able to pull it off and I learned a ton in the process.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Seattle Mariners players Kendrys Morales, left, Michael Morse, center, and Raul Ibanez. Photographed in the laundry room of the Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, in Peoria, Arizona.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A view of the lighting setup for the portrait in a maintenance/laundry room (note the washing machine at left) at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Ariz. I'm adjusting the light bulb about where the three players were to stand for the shot. Two Profoto Pro-7B packs, and three Profoto Pro-7B heads were used for the portrait. A set of PocketWizard radio remotes triggered the strobes.

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