Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Advertising photography – it’s not as easy as it looks

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Composit finished image

Single shot finished image

The fine art of producing high quality advertising photography is not as one would expect.  The amount of work and money required to produce one of those advert spreads we commonly see in a magazine is mind boggling!   We all think about the day of the shoot and getting that right image, but what is unapparent is the amount of pre-production work that’s involved before you grab that camera.

Art directors story board sketches


I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about.  Recently, we were commissioned by Blue Sotogrande Marina Shopping and Peppermint Create Advertisement Agency to produce images for their new Ad campaign to promote the recently built shopping centre.   Preparation for this shoot began weeks ahead of time when I received from Peppermint the selected storyboard developed by their art director. Working together with Peppermint, we organized a casting with Target Models to select the girl with “the right look” for this campaign.Female models-2 Then came the dog…a much harder search.  As that no dogie casting agencies exist in Southern Spain, we had to go through friends of friends and local kennels until the right dog came along.

Lidia our final model choice

Once we had our models, our next task was to recce potential locations.  The art director and I spent a day taking test shots of various spots along the port of Sotogrande.  Three weeks before the date of the shoot, I received the shoot brief detailing the schedule and shots selected.

Tango on white backdrop

Shoot brief for 020608-2

Many details had to be arranged during those 3 weeks.  I ordered the necessary Pro Photo lighting equipment as well as white paper roll backdrop with the various stands and sandbags used to support them.

Our hopeful finalists

Hopeful Dog Models

I also met with my production assistant to discuss what shoot permits we would need as well as to arrange the transport of the lighting equipment and most importantly the catering! As I’ve previously worked with animals on shoots, I knew that getting our dog under control was no easy task. Digging through my fishing gear, I found a heavyweight fishing line that would do the job.  A bit of fishing line tied to our dog’s collar can easily be Photoshopped out.  Meanwhile, our art director was busy meeting with our stylist, model, and various fashion boutiques to coordinate final wardrobe and makeup.  Even the dog was not left out as that we had a collar and leash specially made with the logo “Blue” written in Swarovski crystals.

Part of the gang!

Part of the gang! Dana,Laura and Lidia

The day before the shoot, every one of us is busy with final arrangements.  Our art director meets with the stylist and model for a final wardrobe fitting.  She also confirms that our dog has been groomed and will be ready to go the following morning.  Meanwhile, my production assistant collected the lighting equipment while I double checked that all cameras, lenses, and reflectors were ready and packed for an early morning call time.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

The morning of the shoot, we all arrived for an early 7.30 AM call time, and believe me in Spain 7.30 is early.  To my horror, a thick sea mist covered my shoot location.  Fortunately, mother nature set us back only an hour.  As soon as the light was right, we had our model and dog (who was by now attached to various individuals via fishing line) get to work.  For the two to three hour we shot continuously with only occasional brief breaks as that the day was getting hotter by the second and a big dog like Tango was bound to get overheated quickly.  I also needed to get a final ten minutes with Tango posing on the white backdrop in case I need to use him in a composite.  As it turned, we did get one perfect shot which is the image you saw at the beginning of this blog, however, the main image used by Blue is the composite you see at the end of this blog.

So there you have it!  A shoot that took weeks to plan, five hours to shoot followed by many more for post-production; a collaboration of ten people to produce two final images!

Alternate finished composite images used in bill board campaign

Alternate finished composite images used in bill board campaign

Cherry Pickers…are not just for picking cherries!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Late last year, my team and I were commissioned to photograph the new completed phase for Arcos Gardens Golf Club and Country Estate.  The Club, located in the picturesque countryside of the town Arcos de la Frontera, had recently completed construction of their magnificent new Clubhouse and required new images of the building as well as their new luxury villas for use in their various advertisement campaigns.

As that I have years of experience in shooting  golf clubs and have previously shot this particular one, I was aware of the challenges awaiting us.  The terrain through which this course runs through is quite flat.  There are no significant natural land elevations from which I could obtain sufficient height in order to capture anything monumental in terms of the landscape.

Outside of using a helicopter, I decided that  a crane of sufficient size would do the job.  For a reasonable daily rate, Arcos Gardens hired for me a 20 meter articulated mobile crane, a.k.a. a cherry picker, that is quite easily operated by your average photographer or better yet your technical assistant.  Over our 5-day shoot schedule, we certainly took advantage of having this piece of heavy machinery at our disposal…and what fun we had!  Check out our video clip to get an idea of what I’m talking about!


Escape to Africa

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

My latest photographic adventure took me on a relatively short trip down to the Dark Continent. I was commissioned to photograph a unique Moroccan-styled townhouse in Tangier, Morocco. As that I live in Southern Spain, getting to Tangier involved a short car ride into the expansive port of Algeciras followed by a one and a half hour ferry ride to the port of Tangier. The townhouse itself was a 10-minute walk from the port and located just outside the Medina. Although the exterior of this property was simple and unobtrusive, the interiors were magnificent featuring traditional U-shaped arches, elaborate use of bright color, and extravagant decorations. Traditional Zellige terra cotta tile work covered much of the floor and walls of almost every room while impressive Moorish plasterwork adorned the vaulted ceilings…and the views were absolutely spectacular! All in all, an amazing property. Enjoy the pics!

How to photograph a 100-TON CAT

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

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)

Powerboat shoot in Sotogrande

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

This past December, our team were commissioned to create images to be used in advertising campaigns for a new business venture featuring ultra fast powerboats based out of Sotogrande in southern Spain. This assignment presented with its own unique challenges. Orchestrating the positions of both the 20 meter Sunseeker shoot boat and the 38′ Hustler Slingshot at the right angle to the sun was in itself tricky.

On top of that, I had to maximize the number of usable sharp quality images captured of an object traveling at more than 85 miles/hr. In choosing the camera for the job, I needed a model with a high frame per second rate to capture as many images as possible in a short time frame. Each pass of the powerboat would only give me about 5 seconds of shooting time.

Taking all these factors into consideration, I ended up using the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, which features a capture rate of 5 frames/sec as well as a huge 3” fine detail LCD screens for image review on the scene. I fitted the body with an image-stabilized EF70 – 200mm f2.8 lens along with a B+W polarizer to saturate colours and reduce glare from the water.

To stabilize the camera and allow for rapid vertical adjustments, I used the lightweight Manfrotto Neotec monopod fitted with a custom bracket.

Using a technique called panning, I was able to create a speed effect using a slow shutter speed of 1/60 to 1/100 of a sec while tracking the boat with my camera resulting in sharp images of the boat itself with blurred background and water.

Once the shoot was done, the team and I got a taste of serious speed by taking a ride on this 600 horse powered Yanmar diesel racing machine! All I can say it’s one hell-of-a-ride!