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Editorial Photography: David Wheelans for Ottawa Magazine BOOM!

David Wheelans

David Wheelans


Part 1 of 6

This was my first project undertaken for Ottawa Magazine and I really wanted it to show as my best work to date. It would serve to impress my new client (hopefully), and challenge myself to push my work ahead.

I had recently read on David Hobby’s Strobist blog about Gregory Heisler who often, almost always, gels his flashes, since the colour produced by all the artificial lights in our environment is usually anything but the white sunlight to which strobes are balanced.

My challenge was to light my portraits using gels on all of my lights, or as many as would make sense. To mimic the light that would be found in these locations as best I could.

The assignment itself called for landscape-oriented images as that’s how they were going to be laid out. To add to my own challenge, I decided to shoot these all with a 24mm tilt shift lens, and shift it left to right to create a wider panoramic frame. This involved a bit more planning on site, and a one-shot approach to the final image: there would be no alternates for the publisher should I mess up, just the images I presented.

Every day next week I’m going to show an image from the shoot, a lighting diagram, and explain how it was put together. The image today was, in fact, an alternate I did create since we had the time and space to work a bit longer with our subject (this image is not one that went to print).

David Whellams is a novelist and he just released his first mystery novel. We set this up in his home studio since a lot of his work happened right here in the office.


Lighting was fairly simple: a midi octa on-axis with the camera to fill into the room with a warm light you’d find indoors. It was gel’d 1/2 “straw” (orange). Since we were exposing to get a good balance with the back window, we had to mimic the light coming through it that would rim his head and shoulders with a beauty dish. Since it was daylight we didn’t gel that one – and it was removed later in post with a frame taken with the flash removed. Finally, we needed a bit of a light noose on the left hand side of the room, so a small LP160 flash was used to pop into the wall and add some light.

Thanks to Dave Hassar for the assist on this shoot (and third “David” in this blog post), and thanks to David Whellams and his wife for being such gracious hosts!

Tune in Monday for the next image in the series… with beer!

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