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.

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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