Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thinking outside the box... literally

One of my favourite types of location to photograph in is a factory or warehouse. There's just something about the lighting that really lends itself to potentially atmospheric images; I love the softness of their overhead illumination, and by working simply with the available light we can get a real sense of the subject matter in its simplicity. One of my assignments this week was in just such a place.

On arriving at the warehouse, however, the conditions appeared less than favourable - a very dimly lit building with no windows, and what light there was fell to the ground in patches. First up, then, we had to stop and re-think how best to illustrate the primary elements we were trying to get across given these conditions - specifically, the overall space, capacity, professional methodology and organisation of the client. Thankfully, there was a saving grace in the form of the key subject matter itself - bright yellow storage boxes - so we ditched the idea of using our SB-800 flashes in favour of the ambient light. Exposures, therefore, were in the region of 1-4 seconds - and for this we brought out the tripod and grip equipment.

This picture, shot on the G9, gives a good indication of the working conditions. Dark corners at the ends of the shelving, ranging through to highlight areas nearer the roof. This particular 'scene' was actually one of the brighter areas. Incidentally, all ground-level static shots were taken with a tripod-mounted Nikon D200 at ISO 100. Lens choice varied between the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM ultrawide and the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AFS IF-ED DX Nikkor.

Ground-level stuff is all very well but, you know, sometimes you just need something extra... And that's where the crane came in, taking me up to a height of aroun 26 metres - near enough to the very top of the building. Still working with the available light, I switched from the tripod to a Super Clamp/Magic Arm combo, which was attached to the basket of the crane. Given that there was no cross-wind(!) and that I was able to stand perfectly still, this arrangement was perfectly adequate for getting sharpe, blur-free pictures. It even did a great job at supporting the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AFS telephoto, which was used for isolating staff from their surroundings.

With any shoot like this, what we are trying to produce is a varied set of images which informs would-be customers
not just about the product, but about the process, too. Multiple tools such as clamps, lenses and lighting enable us to do this. Accordingly, we shot a number of supporting photographs showing specific details of the filing system as well as portraits of other members of staff carrying out their specific roles within the operation.

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