Valor at Nam Dong reference shoot

After some delay I am happy to have the picture Valor at Nam Dong came back on the work schedule. The picture depicts the Viet Cong attack at the Special Forces camp Nam Dong, South Vietnam in 1964. There are three main figures in the picture, Roger Donlon, Mike Disser and Julian Olejniczak. Roger Donlon is the first Medal of Honor recipient for Special Forces and for Vietnam. In July the new Headquarters building for 7th Group Special Forces will be named for Roger Donlon and the painting will be part of the ceremony and hang in the entrance. There is a Pre-order page on my web site or just use this link There will only be 64 prints signed by both Roger and Mike, 100 signed by Mike and 100 signed only by myself. I expect these to sell out very quickly, if you are interested I suggest you check contact me or use the pre-order page.

Figure reference is usually the first pictures taken either to line up with background reference or to establish the lighting for the rest of the picture. It is rare that I shoot figures with no an idea of the lighting and usually leads to lots mistakes. This is a night fight painting and required shooting indoors with studio lighting mimicking the light. Fire is the main light source, a much softer but also warmer than daylight and because the fire is the main light it can be very dramatic with deep contrasting shadows areas. It is not necessary to have the light be warmer like the fire only that it falls on the figure as it will in the painting. I've shot reference with colored gels to get the fire effect, it worked well but I was drawn to making the painting look like the reference instead of interpreting it. Better to make your own choices on color temperature than be locked in too tightly.

Next I will build a small scale model of the mortar pit, vehicle and surrounding area then light and photograph in a similar manner to the figure reference. For the closer edge of the mortar pit I will use full size sand bags, small scale models can provide only so much detail and information.

Preliminary approved sketch Nam Dong A.jpg

Roger Donlon figure modeled by Tom Shultz IMG_3258.jpg

Mike Disser figure modeled by Jim Green IMG_3592.jpg

Julian Olejniczak figure modeled by Ernie Carlson IMG_3538.jpg

9th May, 2018