It wasn’t so long ago that tribal warriors in the far north-eastern Indian state of Nagaland practiced head hunting as a favorite pastime. Fortunately for me, this fierce-looking gentleman gave up such macabre endeavors long ago.
Below is a fine art version of the same image that I converted to black and white and changed the background using a composited image of coffee-stained paper.
And the setup shots on location.
The photo on the left shows the unlit version of the image. Notice the flat ambient light on the warrior’s face and the overly bright exposure in the bottom of the frame.
In the photo on the right my Indian assistant, Pintu, stood outside this “morong” tribal hut. He handheld a Manfrotto 680B monopod to which we had attached one Canon 580EX II and two 430EX II Speedlites and a Westcott 43-inch collapsible umbrella using a FourSquare mounting bracket. On camera I used a Ray Ring Flash for fill light set to minus two f/stops. All strobe units were triggered using Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 radios with the AC3 Zone Controller. I used manual exposure mode and set the ambient light down about three stops so the strobe lighting would be more dramatic. Then I asked the warrior rotate his spear for a more brilliant light reflection.
The remote Tuensang area of Nagaland was a grueling 12-hour journey that refreshed my memory of many other “bus-rides-from-hell,” a rocky ride navigating pothole-strewn roads through thick dust clouds that never seemed to end.