I make no apologies for how long it has taken to blog about this shoot; I've needed some time away from the blog to prepare for some projects and to sort out some things. That said, blogging some of these shoots aren't as tedious as I had somehow convinced myself that they were so I'm trying to catch up and stay up to date with things. A new website and new blog design are on their way but I have no promises for delivery dates. Photokina and Cinec 2012 are coming up in Cologne and Munich, respectively and there are things I am preparing for my month-long absence from Canada.
There are few projects that have gotten me as excited as this image library development project I have had the privilege of working on with Livestock Gentec. We're working with a flexible ad agency-type entity collaborating closely with an executive-level manager on the client side and we are working with subject matter that often finds itself in cliche stock photography or in very literal and sometimes "cute" but otherwise intellectually stale imagery. The spaces that we have to work with are generic-looking for science laboratories so we needed to think implicitly and interpret art direction's concepts not as any stock or commercial photographer would but, in my case, as a photographer with a fashion and architecture background would. Many of the more directed shots are shot on 4x5" negative sheet film and then drum scanned in-house. The format allows me to shoot at apertures that will easily allow for motion blur while retaining depth of field control without the use of neutral density filtration. Using the Toyo VX124 also allows for generous perspective control movement to maintain parallel lines and geometric accuracy as an architectural photographer would while selective focus movements allow for an extra degree of subject separation as a fashion or portrait photographer would. Shooting onto film increases the image capturing system's resistance to chromatic aberration even with large degrees of image circle and lens axis offset. Furthermore, some photographs would need to be shot with an ultra-wide angle lens but without tolerance for wide angle-related perspective distortion. The Schneider 72mm Super-Angulon XL functioning as an ultra-wide ensures that while object placement will be characteristically exaggerated the rendition will be much like what we'd be used to seeing from a short telephoto lens in the 135 format that is more commonly shot.
A rough draft of part of the quotation that I sent my art director.
A small handful of the headshot we shot in one of the labs during one of the shoot days. In this panel we're probably looking at a combined total of over a century of post secondary education and related research. Even business managers working with this client are double-PhD's with MBA's. I was officially the least educated person on site during the shoot! Nikon D3, 135/2 Defocus Control Nikkor and with some fill from an LED panel or two with light colour temperatures set to match ambient light.
Livestock Gentech's Edmonton operations are divided between two buildings: one in downtown Edmonton and the other in the Agriculture and Forestry Building on the University of Alberta campus. These were some of the more spontaneous images we decided to create with individuals using pieces of equipment. The photographs were LED lit with my own design of lighting instrument and Corey acting as a human light stand for many of the shots. All taken with the 24-70/2.8 AF-S Nikkor and the Nikon D3.
We wanted a few shots with visible faces working at the benches. These were shot with the D3, 135mm F/2 Defocus Control Nikkor and existing light only.
We needed some creative images of the laboratory space in use but we also didn't want recognizable faces in the photos so we worked a lot with motion blur and slower shutter speeds. All taken with the Toyo VX125 and the Schneider 72mm Super-Angulon XL. The frame on the right is available in both colour and black and white but this particular drum scan was taken off a sheet of Ektar that was mistakenly processed with Kodak XTOL at HP5+/400 timings. The resulting image was interesting.
At Livestock Gentech's downtown laboratory location we took advantage of the common spaces to the library with architecturally-interesting backgrounds. The existing light was challenging as a lot of light entered from above in the centre of the building and most of the catwalks do not receive side window light. The combination of large, battery-powerable, colour temperature adjustable LED light, the highlight-compressing characteristics of negative film combined with the density decompressing capabilities of a drum scanner allow a photographer to efficiently address these challenges.