This morning (early for me), I shot a photo of a pair of Illinois politicians from our wide geographic area as a publicity image for the expansion efforts for U.S. Route 50. The gentlemen in the photograph are State Senator John O. Jones (R, Mt. Vernon) and former Secretary of Agriculture and retired State Representative Chuck Hartke (D, Teutopolis).
Since I’ve moved to southeastern Illinois, it’s been very easy to see that the single act that would have the most impact on this region economically would be the widening of U.S. 50 from two lanes to four. It’s not hard to come to this conclusion and there actually is a group of State and local leaders that wish to see a widening of 50 from Salem to Vincennes, Ind. become a reality.
One of these local leaders is a friend of mine, Olney Mayor Mark Lambird, who is also, coincidentally, my boss. I asked him if there was any way we could get two people that are well known in the region when I thought of this shot and he got on the horn and soon had the arrangements made.
Mark, a journalist that has some photographic knowledge, is no stranger to shooting with me, both as a second photographer or as an assistant. We scouted locations a week prior to the shoot and decided on Beard Road, just between the Marion and Clay County Line. There was a sign for 50 and standing on Beard Road looking west, 50 winds out behind the sign. The road is on the rise of an overpass too, so that helped with the look.
Morning of the shoot, we came out with a Nikon D70 and an NikonSB800 on a lightstand with a radioslave attached. It was about 8:20 a.m. when we were planning to shoot. Senator Jones was already waiting for us when we arrived, so Mark talked to him while I got the equipment ready. The strobe was nearly useless because we had strong direction sunlight pouring over the hill from the east. Shot a few sample frames and when Mr. Hartke arrived, I began to shoot. The two men spoke with each other and I shot images of them conversing until a truck roared by, when I had them look at me. They have posed for enough pictures that direction wasn’t really necessary. I don’t know if the flash even fired for the picture we decided to use.
Exposure was f9 at 1/500 of a second at ISO 200. flash was high and slightly to the right with no diffusion. Sunlight took care of most of this. I had thought about using a polarizer to darken the skies and dragging my shutter for a little blur on the truck but that would have taken more test shots. These men are busy enough and were kind enough to come to a spot on the road that wasn’t even near very many towns, so I didn’t want to make them wait for the shot. For something like this, vanilla was ok anyway and I think the image works for it’s purpose: as a promotional piece and as part of an ad.
When asked if Route 50 should be widened at a town hall meeting in Olney in 2006, President (then Senator) Barack Obama answered simply “Yes,” before moving on to the next question.
Those who would like to see US 50 widened would do well to voice their opinion to the representatives on a local, regional and state level. Members of the Route 50 Coalition would also likely be able to tell those who want this to happen where their efforts could best be used.