Benj Rowland

Chris Culgin and Benj Rowland of County Boys photographed at the Raab Ranch, Millbrook Ontario

The overwhelming urge to shoot band portraits can strike anywhere at any time; even at a friend’s wedding in Canadian farm-country.

I caught up with Chris Culgin and Benj Rowland (a.k.a. Tin Can Chris and Banjo Benj) in the small town of Millbrook an hour east of Toronto. The duo was playing old country and bluegrass at a friend’s wedding.

When they broke for a drink, I seized the opportunity for a few portraits. As it turns out, the farmhouse setting was a perfect match for their vibe. Photos and shooting notes are just a click away.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTES

Walking up to complete strangers and asking them for a portrait is something I need to do more of. I spent just 5 minutes with Chris and Benj and was very happy with the results.

A few minutes was only enough time for snaps at two locations on the grounds.

The lead shot was taken in front of pile of scrap metal, old toys and deadwood in the corner of the driveway. An old lawnmower chair and some metal framing made the perfect seating for the shot. Benj and Chris looked like they could have been busking that location all day.

#1 – The photo was made with the Nikon D3 at 1/160 and ISO 800 and the 24-70mm stopped down to f/5. I would have preferred a shallower depth of field for this shot but decided on a “safety setting” of f/5 to make sure both faces were tack sharp.

Benj Rowland

#2 – The second image was shot with Chris and Benj facing the sun. A heavy layer of cloud cover provided the perfect diffusion to what would otherwise have been harsh afternoon light. The photo was shot at f/5 and 1/500 at ISO800. In hindsight, I could have backed off the ISO and shutter speed to get a final image with somewhat lower noise (but the D3 at ISO800 is no slouch). Since I did not have a gold reflector with me, I added a similar reflector-like effect in photoshop.

Benj Rowland

#3 – This photo and the old school photoshop treatment are a favorite of mine. The pose and setting remind me of civil war era portraits taken in the deep south; the framing of the old tree house in the background even looks like corner edge of a second story veranda. Shot at f/4 and 1/320 at ISO800.

End Notes

Thanks to Chris and Benj for being such good subjects. Thanks to Eleanor and Ron for letting me steal their musicians.

  1. Band Portraits? at a wedding? — http://bit.ly/SH0xv

  2. Peterborough’s "Country Boys" as shot spur-of-the-moment by chris owyoung http://bit.ly/SH0xv (via @chrisowyoung)

  3. redwallphoto

    I LOVE the treatment on the last one. I'm not usually a fan of sepia-toned photos, but it absolutely fits their vibe 100%. Great shots, and good for you for asking strangers if you could take their picture :)

  4. Me too. I'm usually not into sepia either, but it was too fitting here. I think it also helps to note that had either Benj or Chris been wearing anything noticeably modern, say Nike shoes, the effect would be completely ruined.

  5. fredericsune

    Love the first one with the rusty background. Nice catch! Bravo

  6. Thanks Frederic. That one is my favorite.

  7. redwallphoto

    I LOVE the treatment on the last one. I'm not usually a fan of sepia-toned photos, but it absolutely fits their vibe 100%. Great shots, and good for you for asking strangers if you could take their picture :)

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