Between a half hour in a coffee shop and a few short trips on trains I thought I had constructed what I was going to write for this shoot. However, after learning what I just learned from my art director I can't publish most of that! I'm posting the same images and with similar captions but it'll be more a discussion about the technical aspects of the shoot than about my interaction with art direction and client.
Ania Smith of Axial 3D was our art director. This shoot was partially a promotional shoot for Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe showcasing some of the new renovations and breathing new life into their existing photographic advertising but it was also partially a personal project for Kevyn, the hotel's new owner. The challenge was that the hotel had not yet been fully renovated so we had to be imaginative. We wanted to create something that wasn't purely architecture-oriented because we needed to give a sense of the spaces within the building without explicitly documenting certain details about the spaces that were destined for change. Models became very important to help us achieve this goal and it was also important to shoot with a camera chassis and a format that would allow for a high degree of adjustment latitude and selective focus and do so without negatively impacting reproduction size or giving photos the "small camera tilt-shift look" often associated with using tilt-shift lenses on digital SLRs. For this reason the project was shot almost exclusively on 4x5 films with the (jade green) Toyo VX125. This would also be my first project on which I'd use colour temperature adjustable LED lights in the form of ARRI Locasters as the primary photographer-controlled light sources. Most original film rebate is intact and film types range from Portra 160NC to Ilford HP5+ to Kodak EPY 64T. Colour films were all chemically processed by ABC Photocolour in Vancouver and I drum-scanned them in my studio on an Aztek DPL-driven Howtek Scanmaster 4500. Ilford HP5+ push processed to ISO 1600 in house in Kodak XTOL at stock strength.
Hair, makeup, and styling by Nikolas. Photos shot with a lot of help from Corey Thompson. And special thanks to Kevyn and his assistant, and the hotel's staff for being very accommodating and for being great hosts. Book a room in this hotel; you won't be disappointed. And thank you to Yura of 350 Designs for introducing me to Ania a few years ago.
A shot in Crowne Plaza's largest ballroom. I think just about every wedding photographer in the city has shot in this ballroom at some point so it was important to try to take the focus away from the room itself and to create a new focal point. I sense that some of the decor in this room is about to change. Kodak EPY is a discontinued ASA 64 tungsten balanced slide film. I bought a 50pack when I was in Detroit and motorcycled it back this past summer. Shot with the Schneider Super-Angulon XL 72mm. Very modest rim and fill light provided by ARRI Locasters tuned to 2800K undiffused. Using colour temperature adjustable LEDs allowed for setup, colour match, shoot, and teardown faster than we could normally setup and colour match our lights for situations like these.
Originally, I wanted to have a half naked woman in the foreground of this photo and with underwear and clothes scattered across the bed and the floor as kind of a fun option but my requests were denied. Anyhow, I'm still happy with the photo . . . I wanted to deviate from the usual hotel room photos showing off perfectly-made beds devoid of any signs of occupation by people and give it more of a life style feel. Shot with the Schneider 72mm Super-Angulon XL wide open with a bit of swing and rise movement for selective focus and to prevent wall lines from converging.
Another option for a bedroom shot. Also shot with the Schneider 72mm XL.
Shooting only with continuous light and shooting with a 4x5 (or larger) ground glass allows for very easy composition of more static frames. The added flexibility of full movements in a monorail camera allow the photographer to add a unique flavour of dynamism and exotic lens rendition to an otherwise more posed photograph. We used a single ARRI Locaster set to 6500K with a diffusion gel clipped to the barn doors to light the foreground for this shot.
We moved to Portra 400NC for the photos shot in Laronde because of how many people were involved and because we wanted people to be animated while in their seats. Even at ISO 400 (rated to 320) we were getting about 1/30s at F/11 and even with a bit of fill by ceiling bounced ARRI Locaster as we were metering for the foreground. Background spot metered at about 10 stops brighter than the foreground but what was really interesting is that in spite of all of the the criticism we've seen about film's narrow latitude, this was the first photo that I had to edit to significantly increase contrast and throw away highlight detail to make it look realistic. Caltar-II S 135mm F/5.6. Film loaded in 6 frame Graphmatic film backs.
One of the few photos shot on the D3. I resorted to using a dSLR because we needed to shoot at higher sensitivities which was one area that colour film suffers. This particular shot was done at ISO 800 and at F/2.8 with a 1/10s shutter speed.
This was the last shot of the day and the one I found the most challenging. The lobby is a large space to fill and with flat, uncontrolled, and mixed lighting which is why I opted to shoot a black and white film. Admittedly, I struggled to position people in a believable manner and I am not sure if I achieved this. And (I never thought I'd be able to say this with a straight face!) we may have too many female models!
All in a day's work: instant proofs from each of the 4x5-oriented scenes.