On July 21, 2007 at the Atletiek Vlaanderen Track Meet in Belgium, Alan Webb set the US record for the mile distance at 3:46.91 - a record that still holds today.
Being a former and potentially future Olympian, it was fitting to photograph him on the track at the Olympic Training Facility in Chula Vista, California in 2015. Thanks to our lovely escort with a golf cart (intern), we were able to get all the gear down to the track with minimal pain. My Art Director handed me a tearsheet of someone tying their shoes. Time to improvise.
I had a pre arranged time with Alan that interrupted his training so I knew I had to have everything set up and ready for his arrival. I always ask for beginning or end of day so I have more control over the position of the sun and shadows. This rarely correlates with the subjects and locations schedule so I make due. This was late afternoon but still probably 1-2 hours away from sunset.
When shooting outside I usually like to do a Key Shift which in this case means I underexpose the ambient light by overpowering the sun with my Key Light. On this shoot I managed to do this with two 1600w/s heads as Rim Lights and one 1600w/s head with a 39" Octabank as my main light.
I like to have the sun act as a rim light as well so I find a position on the track that would place the sun directly behind my subject. The two rim lights would then be at 45 degree angles behind him. My key light was directly to my right maybe 4' from subject. See lighting Diagram below. I shot with a wide angle lens to create a sense of drama with a low heroic perspective. I asked Alan to tie his shoes for the obligatory shot and then moved on to poses that I thought were more fitting and flattering while not having to change anything on set.
As you can see we found a magic middle where Alan maintains his relationship to the track while being careful not to get to "crotchy". I made the bright sunny day look darker so the attention would be kept on subject and keep a blue sky in frame. The key lights create the rim around Alan to help separate him from the background. For the final publication, the Art Director kept the Camera Left rim light in frame for flare and drama. I think we were done shooting in 3 minutes.
If you have any questions about this shot or anything else in my portfolio, feel free to reach out!