How I did it: The BodPod

I love photographing scientists. Not only do they have interesting apparatus, but the research they do makes a difference in the human condition.  This portrait is a researcher in human performance. As soon as I saw his Bod Pod, I knew I had my location. From the second I saw this white machine in the white lab, I had an image formed in my mind, complete with lighting. I wanted a dynamic picture that would stop the reader and force them to read on. 

The lighting was reasonably straightforward. A blue gel on a Nikon SB-910 was the primary light for the room. I decided on a blue light partially because the scientist was wearing a blue suit. For separation, I placed another SB-910 on a floor stand behind the pod pointing up. For maximum color contrast, I covered the floor flash with the Nikon’s supplied tungsten filter. 

Illuminating the subject is another SB-910, inside the pod, held by the scientist. No gel on this flash but the diffusion cover was attached. A Sekonic flash meter was used to determine exposure, with the blue light set for -1 exposure from the main. 

All flashes were in manual mode for ultimate control. Pocket Wizards were used to trigger the flashes. The camera, a Nikon D750 with 24-120mm f/4 lens, was tripod mounted so the computer screen could burn in at 1/15 second. An aperture of f/8 was selected to ensure both pod and computer remained sharp. The focal length was 31mm, wide-angle but without distortion. I exposed only about eight frames before the scientist decided he had enough. No problem, I expected as much, which made having everything nailed down tight beforehand critical. Never waste a person’s time fiddling with your gear. Get it set then call your subject into the picture. In the end, I had my hero frame in the third shot.