Mr. Levik

portrait of a Physics teacher

portrait of a Physics teacher
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Behind The Lens

I took this photo in the physics classroom of my high school on Long Island, NY in 2004. My teacher was so kind to me and he allowed me to move him all around the classroom to find the best light. This was the last photo I took that day and I liked it the best because he's framed by his passion: physics equations!
This was taken indoors, around noon.
I shot this indoors under some pretty harsh florescent lights. I like the contrast it gave me though. It goes to show that if you experiment with unique lighting situations you wouldn't normally use, you learn what works and what doesn't work. Get creative! You'll learn a lot about the quality of light.
I shot this with a camera older than I am! When I was in high school, my mother gave me her old Canon AV-1 from the 70s. My father taught me to use it and I was hooked on photography from that moment. It's an aperture-priority 35mm SLR and I shot this with a 50mm prime lens. Even though I love my current Nikon D800, I still take my AV-1 off the shelf every once in a while for nostalgia and shoot off a few rolls of film or slides. She's in great working condition!
I was taking an advanced photography class and we had to shoot a series. I chose to do a series on my everyday heroes. I shot my parents and grandparents, my friends and other people I looked up to. This was the stand out of the series: a portrait of my favorite teacher, Mr. Levik. My love of both science and art informed my decision to become a photographer. Mr. Levik taught me a lot about the physics of light that I still think about when I'm shooting clients in my studio.
I developed the film myself in my school's dark room (how I miss the smell of developing chemicals!) and enlarged the prints there too. I remember burning around the edges to create that vignetted look. Once I scanned the image into a digital file, I didn't do any further post-processing, except to remove some dust marks. As a beginner, I was notorious for not keeping my gear all that clean. I've learned my lesson now!
In my camera bag
My Nikon D800 body with a few different lenses: a 50mm 1.4, 24-85mm 3.5-4.5, and a 70-300mm 4.5-5.6. I also keep a Lensbaby and a Holga special lens & filter turret with me for when I want to get a little experimental. I'm kind of an over-packer so I usually have an extra body with me and 10 or so SD and CF memory cards too. I've never needed all of them but my motto is to always be prepared!
You can take a nice portrait against a grey seamless paper background and call it a day. But I feel that the setting of a portrait can give you greater insight into the mind of your subject. Shoot in a setting that really means something to your subject. They'll be more relaxed and comfortable in front of the lens and you'll get a deeper glimpse into who they are. In this portrait, I feel that you can tell the subject is a great teacher from the equations behind him, a hard worker from the chalk dust on his shirt, and a good man from his warm smile. A good portrait captures someone's appearance, but a great portrait captures who they are.

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