Thomas Chorny and Magnus Andersson

Running I met Tom and Magnus this summer. I was introduced to Tom while shooting some of IU’s steeplechase runners fresh off of a great season. Tom is a professional runner and a steeplechase coach at IU. I met Magnus when I started running at Indiana Run Company after my summer hiatus and a nasty stress fracture. Magnus, a Swedish lute player studying at the Jacobs School of Music, is new to running but you wouldn’t know it if you talked to him. He has been clicking off marathons like they are local 5Ks. Meanwhile, Tom is getting in shape for track season and eyeing the 2012 Olympics.


I approached the shoots as stock shoots for Runners World, who had requested some winter photography. Tom and Magnus were kind enough to lend their talents and brave the cold temperatures. For both shoots, I used a Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200 2.8, 24-70 2.8, and a 45 T/S. I used two Alienbee 800s (one with beauty dish, one gridded to focus rim lights), and a Canon 580 EXII (second rim light) for lighting. Tom’s photos were shot on Bloomington’s Rail Trail, a great soft place to run, and a background friendly location. We started with portraits. I underexposed the background 1.5 stops to add some drama, and added two rim lights to make him pop. It was a pretty dark morning, so the lights were at low power (difficult to stop action). I went back and forth between the T/S lens and the 70-200. Tom was willing to change outfits a few times, and eventually I shifted the lighting to two lights: The AB 800 in front and the 580 EX11 in back to get separation. Finally I ditched the lights and shot some ambient photos to cover the bases.  My assistant Max was doing a great job keeping all the equipment dry during the shoot, a hard task in the rain.

When it stopped sleeting, Magnus and I went to IU’s cross course. The course is a great place to train, brutal place to race, and an awesome place to photograph. It was like a second home this summer when I was rehabbing my leg, and I became enthralled with the morning fog that appeared way to early for my liking. For Magnus’s photos, I ditched the beauty dish and stuck with the 30-degree grid. I lit the portraits of Magnus with the Gridded AB as the key right above my lens and the 580 behind him to add a bit of pop. I underexposed the background a bit … you’ll find this is a trend with me. For the action shots, I kept the grid and went back to my two light setup. Again both lights aimed at each other, the AB a pointing down, and the 580 directly behind. The challenge for the runner in this setup is to get between the lights and hit the mark, all while making the stride look real.

As for the retouching, I added some “liquid metal” to make everything pop. I don’t have a set formula for each liquid metal shot, but they usually involve Clarity in camera raw, a high pass/soft light blending mode layer, and some burning.

The shots have yet to be picked up, but they are part of my growing bank of winter imagery.