Monday, February 18, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have to Punt!

I was recently in Key Largo to photography the construction of a large bridge over Jewfish Creek. The current bridge was build in 1944, is 223' long and is of the old drawbridge style. When a boat to tall to pass under the bridge, traffic would be stopped and the drawbridge would opened to allow the boat to pass through. With as much traffic that travels on this highway (Highway 1 to the Keys)they needed a new bridge.

I arrived in Miami about 8 hours later than scheduled, we had a mechanical on our plane for two hours before they (American Airlines) canceled the flight. We had to go back into the terminal, down to baggage claim and than to the counter for re-ticketing to our destination. Erik went to baggage while I headed to the counter for booking. We where set to Chicago first and than on to Miami. I had planned to be at the bridge to scout or even shoot sunset at 4 pm. As it turned out, we arrived at 2 am. I all the years I've been shooting, I've been very fortunate not to have many of these types of flight problems.

The following day I had a full day of shooting the normal activity associated with this type of project. Concrete work, wielding, and various other activities. I also had weather issues to deal with, Florida is known for it's sporadic downpours which we had.

Later in the evening, about 8 or 8:30 pm, 3 large concrete girders where going to be placed on vertical supports. I had planned to lite the entire bridge with my 4 SB-800 strobes, prior to changes which I'll point out later. This photo was taken at 5:30 pm, about 2 1/2 hour before the first girder placement. I only wish they could have hung the girders at the time of the photo below.

As soon as darkness fell, we began to test our lights and placement for when the girders arrive. I wanted to be ready and prepared for the arrive of the girders.

There was one large portable "Man-Lite" sitting on a barge in the water that provided some lighting which I had planned on utilizing along with my own lights. My first test with my flash is here. It was my thought that this strobe would light the underside of the girders being lifted into place as well as providing some lighting on the vertical supports on the left side.

The light on the left side of the supports is coming from the "Man-Lites" on the barge.

The next light we tested was further down under the already placed girders. We had this strobe zoomed out to about 105 mm as the distance to the underside of the girders was about 60 feet.

We thought it might rain by the time the girders arrived, so all the strobes needed to be in plastic baggies to protect them.

At this point, I start getting conflicting information from the workers on site regarding what would be taking place when the girders arrived. I was told that traffic would be put into one lane and allowed to pass while the girder is driven up into place, attached to the cranes and readied. Once the girder is ready to be lifted, all traffic would be stopped until it cleared the highway. That meant I would have to deal with traffic passing in front of my position (the only safe position) I was allowed to be in. I also learned that another "Man-Lites" was going to be brought in to light the area. When this additional light was brought in, it was directed right into my lens! Did I also mention that the strobes we placed and ran tests on would be in the way of the worker movements and would need to be moved. I had planned on some special lighting for this shot only to have the situation change in a matter of moments. I was really looking forward to a more interesting "lit" shot. This is where "Punting" comes in. I want you to see what the placement of the additional "Man-Lite" looked like from my position.

I had to find a way to block that light in order to use it's illumination on location. I was able to use my assistant Erik as a "gobo" to block or flag the direct light source from striking the lens. The light Erik was blocking was placed to aid the workers on top of the vertical supports which the girder would be placed not for the photographer! I needed additional lighting on the girder section which was closest to me, so we placed an SB-800 to the guardrail to light that portion of the concrete girder. I also clamped another SB-800 to my tripod leg with an CTB to illuminate Erik talking into a walkie talkie. Here is a sample of the shot as it turned out.

As hard as you try sometimes to create something special, thing out of your control take place which require you to quickly change your plans. You just have to make the best of the situation and continue on. We continued to have traffic flowing past our position, here is one of those times.

I also wanted to show you this image, the humidity started to climb and condensation appeared on my lens and camera, nothing was going my way!

Here are a few other images for the shoot earlier in the day.


MaCanuck said...

I'm thinking that the moral of the story here is that good photographers know how to adapt and still get good shots when life is throwing everything at them.

Tammy said...

I think pro photographers must be the living embodiment of the saying, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." It's those last-minute curve balls that make shoots so challenging and, at the same time, so much fun.

I recall a shoot I assisted on many years ago. I worked for a commercial photographer when I was in high school, and we were doing a fashion shoot - think grown-up prom gowns. The client came up with the idea of contrasting the gowns' vivid colors with the drab tones of a nearby cemetery. Which was well and good, but it was much colder on shoot day than we'd anticipated, and neither models' exposed skin nor the batteries in the Bronica were happy with 15-degree weather. And then it started snowing.

But of course, the mark of a true professional is to roll with the curves and get the shot anyway. And on that score, I think your images speak for themselves.

ingalbraith said...

nice post bro!...i'm stoked you're having a good time in SF..and I hope you're pinching tid bits of info for yourself! know! See you when you get back.


Andreas Reinhold said...

Reacting to fast changing circumstances can be hard but the way, you've handled this, shows the level of professionalism. Amazing, thanks for sharing.