The hill may own the snomobiles, but they belong to Boyd

Canon 7D, 16mm, F/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 100

I have an ongoing project, capturing photos of legends at Pajarito Mountain. Earlier, I wrote about my portrait shoot with Milt Gillespie. A close second on my list is Boyd Sherwood. Boyd’s been staple on the patrol, suiting up for over 37 years at Pajarito.

The all-volunteer ski patrol hums along with the help of various members who step-up to perform certain roles. Some run our training, others keep our medical kit stores up to snuff. Boyd performs mechanic duties, and isn’t a slouch at carpentry either. Most importantly, Boyd’s attained the position of patrol grandpa to all of us. He’s a fixture on the hill during the holiday season, acting in the roll of hill captain, the daily patrol majordomo, for two weeks straight. Like clockwork, Boyd greets you first thing in the morning, wearing his beret, a pair of his many crazy pattern gators, and a beaming smile. The gators are Sherwood originals, sewn by his wife Mary Lou. She also gets credit for keeping the patrol room smelling great, whether its from a crock pot of posole, or mulled wine, simmering all day long until everyone is ready to celebrate the end of a good day patrolling on the mountain. Boyd’s presence on the hill brightens the patrol’s spirits, and is a real institution on the mountain.

Several settings would have been appropriate for an environmental portrait, but I needed at least one taken in the snomo shack. Being a working space, the building provided a challenge in the clutter and available light department. Here’s my recon photo taken a couple days before the shoot.

Not a whole lot of room to work, especially since I was shooting wide, with my back to the overhead door. Luckily, the best sitting location for Boyd allowed me to minimize the background clutter, and play-off the colors between the camera-right snomo and Boyd’s jacket. A wide lens and low point of view pulled all the elements together nicely.

The light was easy to handle, given a decent lighting kit and a shutter above 1/100 sec. The ambient light was negated, and my strobes could do all the work.

I used the David Hobby light layering approach while pulling together the set-up; the fill lights first defined the lowest light levels in the image, and the key rounded out the subject. One Canon 580 EXII speedlite fired at the ceiling to bring up the general ambient light. A second 580 EXII focused on the chainsaw above and behind Boyd. Finally, a Elinchrom Ranger fired through a 29″ softbox and lit Boyd from high and camera left. A little reflector work helped bounce some light back onto Boyd’s camera right side and kept shadows from blocking out. Here’s the image pretty much the way it came out of the camera.

Image post-processing entailed some dodging and burning, along with help from a filter action or two to warm the image and increase local contrast.

Boyd was great to work with, and was even up to trying an outdoor shot after the snomo pose was in the can.

Not a bad scene for the first weekend in November.

All told, the shoot took about 45 minutes, from set-up to tear-down. We were highly motivated, since temps in the shack were approaching freezing, with stiff winds blowing outside. I couldn’t complain, since it’s all a good sign for the upcoming Winter.

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