Impromptu Portrait

Last year, the dashing and talented Scott Montgomery, organist at my parish, completed his master’s degree with a splendid recital on the Buzard organ of The Chapel of St. John the Divine. I came to cheer him on and enjoy a fine performance, and I could not resist bringing my camera to grab a portrait afterwards at the console.


The light was dramatic but not encouraging. The key light here is a tungsten fixture mounted high on a pillar to provide the organist with enough light to play; I had nothing to modify it except the built-in flash on my camera. A color version was thus out of the question, as I could either have neutral fill and strongly orange key, or neutral key and strongly blue fill. I set the flash to TTL with -1.3 or -1.7 stops flash compensation, just enough to open the shadows in the eyes and right cheek, and shot away.

Scott thinks he looks mean here; I think his expression says “Yes, I just owned that recital. You want a piece of me?” In any case, I am fond of this portrait, both because it preserves the memory of a friend’s triumph and because I’m pleased with what I was able to achieve.


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