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Behind The Shot: How This Dramatic Sports Portrait Was Made

Will Ortiz (@wortiz33) is a sports and portrait photographer based out of St. Paul, Minnesota. He is known for creating unique portraits that engage the viewer and tell a story. Ortiz's lighting skills are essential to his unique portraiture techniques. We recently came across this image on Instagram and wanted to learn more about his setup for such a dramatic and epic sports photo. For this photo, he brought his lighting skills to bear along with a lens that you might not expect, the Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master, to create a dramatic, richly textured and detailed portrait. In addition to portraits, Ortiz loves sports photography which you can see on his Instagram. Keep reading as he shares his story behind the shot.

Photo by Will Ortiz. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/4.5, ISO 100

Photo by Will Ortiz. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/4.5, ISO 100

See how sports and portrait photographer Will Ortiz uses an ultra-fast 50mm prime lens and special lighting techniques to create unique sports portraits.

A Sharp Combo For Promo Sports Photos

I was fortunate to be brought in to do some promotional photos to promote the Highland Park High school football team for their upcoming 2022 season. I went with this look because I was inspired by a fellow photographer by the name of James Quantz Jr. from a photo shoot that he had posted on his Instagram.

I used the Sony Alpha 7R IV with the Sony 50mm f/1.2 G Master lens. The Alpha 7R IV gave me the high detail I wanted from the player with its 61 Megapixel sensor. I went with the 50mm because I wanted the sharpness from the lens. 

Using Lighting & More To Add Drama

For the lighting I used three flashpoint AD600 pro and 1 flashpoint AD200. I positioned two of the Flashpoint AD600 pros with two 7 foot umbrellas behind the backdrop. I set the last Flashpoint AD600 pro with a 7-foot umbrella behind me to add some fill light to the body. Then I positioned the AD200 with a 12-inch beauty dish with a grid, above the player to highlight his face. 

My camera settings were 1/250-sec., aperture of f/4.5 and ISO 100. Once I have my settings set on my camera, that is when I start adjusting the setting to my lights. I like to start at 1/16 power and then I start making my adjustments until I get the look I am trying to achieve. I use a can of atmosphere aerosol spray to add some separation between the player and the backdrop to add some details.

The Edits

I edit using Capture One Pro and Photoshop. I use Capture One Pro to bring out the shadows and highlights. Then process the photo in Photoshop to add some dodge a burn and any last-minute adjustments until I achieve the look I want.

See more of Will Ortiz's work on Instagram @wortiz33.


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