Brad Kopek: Raleigh in Foleyet, Ontario

The Image

Brad Kopek

Foleyet, Ontario, Canada

Time / Date:
8:40PM / August 17th, 2010

The Technical

Camera Body: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.2 L USM
Other: Tripod w/ Ball Head

Camera Settings:

Shutter Speed: 1/524s
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 50mm

The Story


Raleigh, and his prized International Harvester, a Loadstar 1700 model from the mid 1970’s, have kept a remote road in northern Ontario, Canada clear of snow since the day he hooked up the mammoth 6 ft.  steel plow to its front. In his 7th decade and the only year long resident on a remote unnamed lake, Raleigh is more than happy to share his 40+ years of remote existence with the intrepid souls that stumble upon his solitude. Unaware of the camera, Raleigh told story and after beer fueled story… Of epic snow storms, mosquito-crazed albino moose, curious wolf pups and even errantly driving the Loadstar 1700 straight into the frigid waters during a snowy winters night. Luckily for all of us who consider these types of characters to be worth the price of travel alone, Raleigh survived that night and still keeps his section of road clear.

Dinner, casual food and some cans of beer were the key, but these can be boiled down to connecting to the subject and getting them at ease in their environment. Raleigh joined our camping crew for dinner and took part in some nice banter before his stories prompted us to walk up the dirt path to where this shot took place. Only upon being comfortable socially with our dinner crew would Raleigh ever be comfortable with the tripod and formidable camera setup.

The Scene: 

Visiting northern Ontario one is immediately aware of how self sufficient one must be to live year round in such extreme conditions. As such, there are always projects and spare parts, and old trailers, and logging equipment, and whatever that rusty steel behemoth does. Tucked away in the aboreal like cave that this plow truck spends its summer I was squeezed only a few feet from fir trees behind me, the fierce mosquitos of the evening forest, and the 10 foot tall vehicle.


Shooting with the Canon 1Ds and a Canon 50mm f1.2 L attached to a Manfrotto tripod with Kirk ball head created a hight quality and stable platform to capture consistent and high quality images. Lots of combinations create less consistency when the shooting environment is outside the optimal shooting conditions of your gear. The quality of the Canon 50mm f1.2 L lens is the key to this shot. The quality of the glass and the near non presence of edge effects allow this lens to be used without even thinking twice about low light and f-stops. This shot was in the shade and nearing dark, only the upper sky showed any remaining daylight.

Making the Shot:

Letting Raleigh do his thing really was the key to this shot. Not apparent in the shot was that the beast of a machine was running at the time. Pride of ownership and keeping the mid 1970’s snowplow in working order prompted him to offer to start it up. Trying not to focus solely on the human subject allows the image to speak more to the association between Raleigh and his vehicle.

Editing & Processing:

This was a basic image when it comes to the digital lab work. Using Lightroom 5 alone accomplished my goal with this image. Lens profile, white balance, highlights, shadows, clarity (midtone contrast), and finally some sharpening to get the small section of reflected branches to become more noticeable. Other images nearly beg to be opened in Photoshop proper and lead through a gauntlet of layers, curves adjustments, midtone contrasting, and the salad bar of 3rd party filters; All of which I gladly use when the image or job requires it or leans that way. If I were to print this image I would use Nik Sharpener to put a final pre printing sharpening. Always over sharpen for any output!

Looking Back:

In the moment we are often obsessed by the details of the shot. What’s the light like? is my ISO too low? How many mosquitos does Canada have? Yet when we look back it is usually the unique characters that we meet that stick and define the experience. Raleigh surely casts that type of shadow of that Canadian experience.


Shoot what you are not use to shooting to expand your range. I typically don’t shoot portraits or lifestyle images. Yet I find that I often learn the most when I put myself in those situations. This image relies heavily on the bokeh, thus letting the viewers minds-eye fill in some of the details to create an image that has a broad psychological range. There is definitely a line that once crossed makes an image too far away from archetypes and that isn’t useful if your goal is to anchor firmly to the human experience side of the capture.


I rely consistently on the photographic techniques and broader artistic musings of Vince Versace and John Paul Caponigro as I have studied with and learned from both. Constantly reminding myself that living in our current era as a creative artist may be the best time thus far in the timeline of humankind, and to not leave anything unexplored. Knowing the the environment as a total is more than the sum of its parts.


Brad Kopek_ADH

About the Photographer

I own and run Avatar Design House & Knowmad Gallery in Bloomfield Twp., Michigan, from a mid century ranch I remodeled with an Eco-Luxury aesthetic that serves as a platform to show my work and promote my curated lifestyle company. In the modern digital world we have all become our own brands, and both the art I create and facility I work from help define that identity. I sell photographic art prints, produce commissioned projects for private and commercial clients, regularly place fine art pieces in health care facilities and commercial settings, and often collaborate on projects with fellow artists. My personal development plan is an always expanding while purposely focused version of how I can be successful in our commerce centered world while allowing my unique brand of image creation to stand on its own merit while still connecting to the larger culture. Whether a gallery show, coffee table book for my Solace road trip, to my ever-changing website for the 5010 Franklin Property these project echo the values I guide my life and art with.

Twitter: @AvatarKnowmad

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