Action Hero Series: Cowboy Hero

The cowboy raises his rifle prepared to protect his friend and companion.

The cowboy raises his rifle prepared to protect his friend and companion.

In 1903 the western movie The Great Train Robbery became the first action film. Cowboys had been part of American heroic folklore for years and with the advent of motion pictures they were founders of the action genre. It seemed fitting that the last image in the Action Hero series be a cowboy.

Not only is it the last image in the series but it is the only image that required a reshoot. The day of the actual shoot thunderstorms had been threatening us the entire day. We had escaped any heavy rain throughout day until we got the cowboy set. As we were driving to the location for the shoot the bottom opened up and it begin raining hard. We waited several minutes for a break in the storm but none came. Finally I wrapped my gear for shooting in the rain and we tried to create a shot, but the humidity and conditions prevented me from getting the picture I wanted. So after some emails, phone calls, and borrowing of some new props we reshot the cowboy last night.

Like the other images we set up and shot this image in a half hour or less. Two lights were used. The main light was fired through a shoot through umbrella set off to camera right. The second light provided the rim light. The shoot occurred late in the afternoon but not so late as to get the sun low enough to the horizon. To compensate I placed Steffen and Mandy in the shade of a small patch of trees. Then laying on the ground I shot up so the sky would be at the back of their heads.

In post I added a sky from my clipart gallery that was closer to sunset. I adjusted this to a very warm color to give me more a setting sun feel. By setting this sky layer to overlay it produced a orange hue to the image. I masked out the models but allowed the orange to bleed in where the rim light was. I also desaturated the image then brought the colors back up with a curves layer that was fined tuned with a selective color layer. I used the render lens flare to create the “sun” over their shoulder and finalized the image with some dodge/burn and adding some grain.

This image marks the end of a totally fun and exciting series to create. Everything from coming up with sets, finding locations, props, working with models and assistants was a total blast. Thank you to all the private property owners who let us use their buildings, cars, and land as our backdrops. I have to say thank you to my female models Amanda, Nikki, Kendra, Heather, and Mandy. I also want to say thank you to Farrin who was the original model in the cowboy shot but couldn’t make it back to the reshoot (I’ll make it up to you, I promise). A special thank you to our contest winner for a photo shoot, Dani. Thank you to my assistants Carla and Mac, who carried very heavy camera gear for me and helped me count and recount gear after every shoot. Thank you to Steffen for working with me as the action hero who sacrificed donuts so he could stay on his diet regiment.

You don’t create images like this in a vacuum, it takes multiple people to make things happen and I am very grateful for all the help I received. As for now I am putting together four images for Halloween that will be released on Oct. 28th – 31st. Steffen and I are talking about doing a new series we’re tossing around some ideas to see what sticks. The Action Hero series will soon be available in a coffee table book and a behind the scene’s video will release sometime next week. I am looking for a way to sell prints to those that have been asking, I will let you know soon. Finally thank you to all the fans who have wrote emails, comments, and followed the pictures on social media and this blog. It’s been fun producing this for you, stick around there is still more things to come.