8.02.2010

Just showing up for work.

Kirk in his hardhat,  reflective vest, eye protection, etc.  Just another day at work.
We love to think we do art 24/7 but sometimes we put on the hard hat and vest and go to work.  For the last eight days I've been working on an annual report project, shooting portraits outdoors.  Mostly on road construction sites.  Today I photographed the people who operate the big machine you see in the background.  We're down in a new roadway with no shade and no electricity.  At 11:30 this morning, around the time my client snapped this shot of me, it was already in the mid 90's (f).

My lighting set up for the images was pretty simple.  I floated a scrim over the top of the subject and used an Acute 600b in a small softbox, as close in as I possibly could.  When I get permission I'll show a few of the sample images.  I've been using the Canon 7D with the 15-85mm zoom as my primary optic.  Why?  Because the lens covers all the focal lengths I need on this project which means I'm not changing lenses in the middle of the dust storm that is road construction.  Also, we're shooting in strong daylight which means middle to smaller apertures.  No need for big, high speed lenses in this context.  The camera body seems well sealed against dust and rain. (Actually used it in the rain last week.....)  

The one accessory that makes all the difference in the world on a bright, outdoor shoot like this is the Hoodman viewing loupe which covers the LCD on the back of the camera and lets me and the art director make a good assessment of the image we're working on.  It's a must if you judge exposure by looking at your review image but it also helps you see the histogram results.

As the project progresses I've been selecting my favorite images and having them printed at 12 by 18 inches by my local Costco.  So far, so good.  It's fun to look at prints instead of trying to judge everything from a monitor.  I think it's a good practice to make daily selections and send out for prints as you go along on a project.  If you do it routinely through every project you'll find that you have a big stack of portfolio ready prints in no time.  You can go thru your stack and edit down to a perfectly aimed portfolio, every time.  If you go through the process of making the files ready to print you can save them in folders and then print your own if you enjoy the pain of doing your own inkjet printing.

I'm seeing a high degree of sharpness and detail in all the prints.  There are obviously lenses that are better correctly than the 15-85 and there are lenses that are much faster.  But given the conditions we're shooting in and the results we're getting at our final printing size I will say I'm satisfied with the quality.  Everything is a compromise.  Simplicity is a good compromise.

I've also been getting a lot of use out of the Canon 580 EX2 flash.  I use it when we try to get images in almost inaccessible locations,  like inside a bucket lift thirty feet up or in the cab of a $3 million earth moving machine.  I use it mostly to add fill light in the HS mode (high speed sync) which allows me to sync the flash at shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second.  I use a very small softbox on the front and tend to always filter it with a quarter CTO filter so that when I do the final color correction for my human subjects the sky in the background does a deeper, richer shade of blue.

Well. I'm getting ready to go out and get the last shot of the job this afternoon.  It's already a little over 100 degrees out there.  I've got on my steel toed Redwings, a Royal Robbins long sleeve, UV blocking technical shirt,  a pair of Khaki shorts, my straw cowboy hat and, of course my vintage RayBan sunglasses on.  That takes care of me.  There's a case of water in the car for the subjects and entourage.  And a small step ladder.  Just another day at work.