With the recent event of bin Laden’s death, I started to think about a way to bring awareness to the local heroes as well as our outstanding military. I have posted some articles previously on how other police and fire departments help keep us safe everyday. This post is no exception.

When you go to high school, you know a lot people. After graduation, everyone moves on and unless you go to the reunions, it’s hard to keep contact with everyone. If you live in a smaller town as I do, you may still know some of the siblings of your classmates. Recently, this happened to me. My father has an espresso fetish, so we go to the local coffee shop to buy the espresso beans. (I think we could start a coffee shop with all of the equipment that my father uses to make his espresso with.) While we were at the store, I reunited with an old friend from high school. He is the oldest of his brothers. As were shooting the breeze, I asked how his other brothers were doing and he gave me update.

I teach photography and Photoshop classes at the local visual arts center in Punta Gorda, Florida. I got a call one day from an old buddy from high school that was asking about taking some photography classes. He was one of the brothers from the coffee shop. He signed up for the class and we got to catch up. We hadn’t seen each other since graduation. During the classes I found out that he is now a police officer serving the people in his local community. I thought this was really interesting so I was full of questions. He was patient with me and answered all of them. During our discussion, I was think about doing a special project that would help bring awareness to the public about how our local police and fire departments ensure our safety every day. Our military is working hard abroad to make sure that an event like 9/11 never happens again. However, in our local communities, the police and fire are the ones on the front lines who take care of any issues. Unfortunately, the world will never be like it was. There is always someone that is going to try and interrupt freedom for all.

I had this “vision” in my head. I wanted to show an officer with an American flag wrapped around him symbolizing that here at home that it’s our local police force that’s following leads to terrorists. Since my friend is police officer, he graciously agreed to be the model and supply the police car and uniform. As you can see from the above photo, this how I was hoping it was going to turn out.

How I photographed this…

This was an on location shoot and it was about 5:00 in the afternoon. We found a shady spot next to a building to help sell that this was actually photographed at night. First, I knew I was going to have to shoot at my maximum flash shutter speed. In this case, that was 1/250 of a second. Next, I wanted to use the lowest ISO possible to keep the light off the sensor as much as possible, so I used ISO 100 in this case. The only variable left was the aperture. In a best case scenario, I would have liked to use a shallow depth of field such as f/2.8 however, with the harsh afternoon light, I knew this was not going to be an option. After a few tests, I was getting close to what I wanted at f/16. This really darkened everything down.

It was time to light the scene. I used four flashes to create this photo. I knew that I wanted a strong red and blue color in the photo. I placed a red gel on the flash that was directly to the left of the camera that was pointed at the officer. I also zoomed the head out to 105mm. I repeated the process on the flash to camera right, only I added a blue gel. I took a test photo. I wasn’t getting enough blue to suite my taste. Normally, I would lower the power of the flash to get more color. However, due to that I was shooting at such a high f/stop, I needed to fire the flash at full power to get the exposure that I wanted. I looked through my bag and I had another piece of color temperature blue (CTB). I added this extra gel and it boosted the color. The color on the officer was looking good, however, he was still a bit dark. I was ok with this as this was going to tie in with my theme for the shoot. Right next to me I added one more flash unit with no gel. I set this to a lower power just to add some fill across the board. On the officer, I had red, white and blue, slick huh?

I took a few more test photos and we were close. I wanted to illuminate the shield that was on the car. I placed a fourth flash zoomed to 24mm and feathered it across the car body. I played with the position of this light, as I didn’t want to create a hot spot on the car’s paint. This flash was also set to full power as I had it set to a wider angle and it was a little further away from the car.

The trick with the sunglasses was fairly easy. The night before I went to Wally World (Walmart) and I was looking for a mirrored pair of sunglasses. As Murphy (I’m gonna kill that guy) would have it they didn’t have any. So, the next best plan was to do it in post. After the photo shoot was over, I changed out the lenses in the glasses for a flag image.

Over all, I think this photo captures what America is all about and who is responsible for our safety on a daily basis. If you see an officer in your local community, be sure to stop and thank them for their great service to the community. They put their lives on the line everyday for the citizens in the communities they serve. I don’t want to think what America would be like without these brave souls. To all of the police, fire and military out there, I appreciate all that you do.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


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