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Recent Work- Mr Harwood

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

84 is divisible by 7. I know this because 3×8+4=28. And 28 is also divisible by 7 (3×2+8=14. 3×1+4=7).

Fascinating huh? Well it was to me when I noticed that pattern sometime in the mid 80s and proudly presented it to my Math teacher Mr Harwood. His enthusiasm for those kinds of things back then is matched only by his enthusiasm today.

By sheer luck of the draw I was assigned to Mr Harwood’s Grade 8 Math class. The following year I was randomly assigned Mr Harwood for Grade 9 Math. The year after that he decided it was time to spearhead a new program and create an Advanced Math 10 class comprised of students that he handpicked and he asked me to be in it.

Luckily for me numbers always made sense. I know a lot of people regard them as abstract but my Dad is also blessed with a practical grasp of how numbers behave and passed it on to me. But it was Mr Harwood who set it loose.

He made sure it was not only interesting but also fun (at least to me and my fellow nerds). It is because of him I can rattle off repeating fractions and happen to find Pascal’s Pyramid fascinating. It is his fault I can calculate the diameter and/or circumference of a circle in my head. See, 22/7 is remarkably close to the value of Pi. (3.142857 vs 3.141592) 3 decimal places, unless you’re building a piano, is probably accurate enough.

So a few weeks ago I decided to check up on Mr Harwood and see what he is doing. I got in touch and explained that I would be back in town just before Christmas and I would like to pop by and snap his portrait. He was all for it.

I met him at school where he was just finishing up the after school extra help with some students and I quickly saw that his attitude toward teaching has not changed in the slightest. Even after 20+ years he is easily recognizable. (Full disclosure- it did require a double take but I blame that on the remnants of his Movember).

I knew going in that we would be shooting in a portable with lousy fluorescent lighting so I made sure I had something in mind. I envisioned a shot of Mr Harwood next to the chalkboard (that in real life he does not use) surrounded by math. We started by filling the board with numbers, equations and graphs but before we started to erase his silhouette I decided we should grab a few back up shots in case the board shot didn’t pan out.

I sat him out away from the board and keyed him with an sb-28 through an umbrella camera right. The right side of his face is lit by a bare sb-28 behind him camera left on full zoom. I lit the chalkboard with a semi-snooted 580 EXII on full zoom camera left. I shot all of these with a Canon 5D mkII and a 70-200mm f4L using AlienBees Cybersync wireless triggers.

When it came time to position him against the board I ran into a couple of challenges. First, I recognized the value of a quality set decorator. I did the best I could but my chalkboard erasing skills are lacking. Second, the shoot through umbrella I was using camera right as a key was spilling all over the board. It looked terrible. After a couple of attempts to tweak it I decided to reverse the game and key him with a hard light instead (camera right) and use the shoot through as fill camera left. By using the key light on full zoom I was able to feather it just right so as to light the subject without flooding the board. The umbrella light is dropped way down to 1/32 or so to fill in the shadows slightly and illuminate his face (some of the light on the right side of his face is actually bounce from the key hitting the umbrella).

Thanks for making the time Mr Harwood. Not just a couple weeks ago, but back in Grade 8 too.

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