Techniques for Photographing Historic Figures: Lincoln

We’re going back in history a bit today. Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens takes us on location at Gettysburg to photograph Lincoln. He uses a couple different strobes, some props, and smoke to really capture authentic looking photographs of Lincoln up on Little Round Top, kneeling at the rock wall where Chamberlain’s troops would have been at the Battle of Gettysburg. Here’s his process to photograph this historic figure:

Camera Setup

softbox lighting setup

On the camera left-hand side, there’s a Dynalite Baja B4 with a medium softbox in it. The softbox is silver lined to give a nice punch.

At first, Morgan starts with a grid, but decides to take it off to open up the light a bit.

lincoln portrait softbox with grid

softbox portrait of abraham lincoln model

Morgan then adds a Baja B6 strobe with an umbrella behind the camera to open up the scene even more.

two softbox lighting setup

Creating the Scene

Morgan exposes for the ambient light in the trees in the background as the sun goes down. He slowly lengthens the shutter to keep the ambient exposure matching the strobes that he’s controlling with the aperture up front, balancing the two to get a nice shot.

abraham lincoln photoshoot o

To add to the scene even more, Morgan’s crew adds smoke to the background using smoke grenades. In post, he adds some sun rays coming through the trees to give a hint of light direction and round the image out.

final shot lincoln portrait

All in all, the day turned out to be a success. Morgan was able to get some great shots of his Lincoln model that look historically authentic and really portray the feeling and atmosphere of such an important time.

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