How to photograph a 100-TON CAT

Our CAT adventure began at 4.30 AM on a cold Spanish January morning.  After three cups of coffee and a final equipment check, we set off for the Malaga-based corporate training center for Caterpillar, the world’s largest and best-known maker of construction and mining machinery.  My team and I were commissioned to capture images of various current and new lines of machinery to be used for worldwide CAT ad campaigns.  Personally, I aimed to create images that showcased CAT machines in a new light and artistic perspective, something different and exciting. For this shoot, I decided to test the new lightweight Canon EOS 5D II designed to capture noise-free 22.1 megapixel images in low light conditions.  Along with my Gitzo carbon tripod I decided to bring my versatile and lightweight Manfrotto Neotec monopod fitted with a custom bracket for a rapid switch from portrait to landscape format as well as quick vertical adjustments.  This combination of equipment is ideally suited for capturing images of machinery stationed on 45 degree incline quarry slopes. By 6.30 AM, our team, comprising of an assistant, producer, two light technicians, crane operator, art director from CAT and myself, met up at the CAT headquarters.  We set up the camera equipment, including a generator-powered 4000 watt HMI light, ballast and two large tripod mounted mirror reflectors in pitch black while operators carefully positioned the machines.  As soon as the sky took on a cobalt blue hue, we began to shoot aiming to capture as many quality images as possible before sunrise kills our light (or my assistant drops the camera on the steep slope).

Following our early morning shoot, we moved on to one of the daylight segments of the project.  A separate art director oversaw this part of the production with images intended for a new CAT ad campaign.  Finally, we got to see these monster trucks in full action, a thrill for any Tonka truck fan!  Gary, head operator for CAT expertly maneuvered these 100-ton beasts through the rough terrain as if he was driving a mini in a car park.  AMAZING!

The next morning (this time after four cups of coffee) we once again rendezvoused at CAT headquarters before sunrise.  Today’s objectives included capturing aerial images of these machines both posed and in action.  To get sufficient height to obtain the right angles for this shoot, we hired a 30-meter hydraulic crane.  Good thing I’m not afraid of heights!  Under these windy conditions, I had to rig the camera for some of the shots to the side of the crane bucket.

As with all of our big shoots, we always manage to have a little fun!  (See video clip)

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3 Responses to “How to photograph a 100-TON CAT”

  1. Hi,what a great socks,thanks for sharing.I will get one like that.bill

  2. .`” I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information `**

  3. Terry says:

    I’m so jealous. My dream job would be working as a photographer for Caterpillar. Beautiful shots!

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