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Peter De Smidt
17-Sep-2016, 09:23
Awhile ago, I was on a commercial shoot at MOWA, an art museum in a small Wisconsin town. While waiting for the talent, I took some quick snaps of the building, which turned out well. Being interested in architectural photography, I decided to go back in the evening for a twilight shot, which I did with my dslr. The shot was challenging, as the angle I wanted to shoot from required being partly down a hill, which means shooting up, which leads to extreme converging vertical lines. But it turned out ok. Wanting to do better, I went back the other night with my 8x10, whereupon I learned a number of important things:

1) Take the lens cap off when making an exposure.
2) Wind sucks with big cameras. Just keeping the BlackJacket from covering the ground glass was a real challenge! I have a lot of respect for people who use 8x10 out in the field.
3) People lie, especially about when they'll turn off lights.
4) People don't care about what you're doing, even if you explain it to them. They won't walk a few feet to the right, for example, to stay out of your picture. Staff of art museums don't care about helping local artists make art, even when there have been no visitors to the museum in over 3 hours.
5) If you're doing a long exposure, say 2 or 4 minutes, make sure to keep a lens cap handy in case people walk into the shot. No one may have walked by for hours, but when the light is right....
6) Don't listen to experts that tell you to leave your tripod head at home. Yes, a camera fixed to the tripod directly will be more stable than one attached to a head, especially with big cameras, but you might not be able to get the camera in the best location and aimed correctly without a head. If I hadn't had sandbags along, I'd have been out of luck. As it was, I had to shoot from a lower position than I would've liked.
7)It would be wonderful to have a really tall tripod.

Michael E
17-Sep-2016, 09:50
1) Take the lens cap off when making an exposure.

Even better: Take it off to compose and leave it off.



2) Wind sucks with big cameras. Just keeping the BlackJacket from covering the ground glass was a real challenge! I have a lot of respect for people who use 8x10 out in the field.


Wind sometimes even knocks over the camera. Especially if you try to get by with a tripod that is a little to small for your camera. :-(



4) People don't care about what you're doing, even if you explain it to them. They won't walk a few feet to the right, for example, to stay out of your picture.


They also park their car right in front of the camera as you're just ready to get the shot.



6) Don't listen to experts that tell you to leave your tripod head at home. Yes, a camera fixed to the tripod directly will be more stable than one attached to a head, especially with big cameras, but you might not be able to get the camera in the best location and aimed correctly without a head.

Those are the same experts who recommend a lens that has extraordinary image quality, but a focal length that makes it totally unsuitable for the shot.



7)It would be wonderful to have a really tall tripod.

Unless you have to carry it for long distances. Then a smaller, lighter tripod becomes far more attractive. See 2).

Peter De Smidt
17-Sep-2016, 10:34
Regarding the lens cap, I usually take it off and leave it off, but in this case I was setup hours a head of time, as framing, movements and focusing was much easier in full daylight. The camera was a Sinar P2 8x10. The tripod was a Gitzo Series 5 with a sand bag on highest leg. Even with heavy equipment, a moderate breeze was a pain, especially as it made using the dark cloth a real challenge.

Two23
17-Sep-2016, 10:35
7)It would be wonderful to have a really tall tripod.



I drilled a hole on the top "step" of a wooden step ladder, ran a bolt up through the hole, and attached my AcraTech ballhead. Really tall tripod with built in steps. Problem solved.


Kent in SD

Jerry Bodine
17-Sep-2016, 10:52
2) Wind sucks with big cameras. Just keeping the BlackJacket from covering the ground glass was a real challenge!

Maybe you've forgotten about the BlackJacket link to working in wind:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJyw7gvkXPc

7)It would be wonderful to have a really tall tripod.
Here's an option, used by Ezra Stoller:

Peter De Smidt
17-Sep-2016, 10:56
I drilled a hole on the top "step" of a wooden step ladder, ran a bolt up through the hole, and attached my AcraTech ballhead. Really tall tripod with built in steps. Problem solved.


Kent in SD

Except on the side of a hill.

Two23
17-Sep-2016, 11:01
Except on the side of a hill.


Depending on slope:


1. block up under the gap
2. Drive two stakes into hill opposite the ladder top, tie ropes to ladder, drive stake at ladder base to keep it from slipping.


Kent in SD

Peter De Smidt
17-Sep-2016, 11:03
I could also have had cement pilings installed....

Two23
17-Sep-2016, 11:42
I could also have had cement pilings installed....


That would be your best bet. Perfectly stable, even in high winds.


Kent in SD

jp
17-Sep-2016, 11:50
https://web.wpi.edu/academics/library/collections/woodbury/Woodbury.PDF
pages 12-15 describe a portable 120' tower the Woodbury and Company would erect in 1908ish to take a photo. (They were leaders in making birds-eye view illustrations of factories)

jp
17-Sep-2016, 11:52
https://web.wpi.edu/academics/library/collections/woodbury/Woodbury.PDF
pages 12-15 describe a portable 120' tower the Woodbury and Company would erect in 1908ish to take a photo. (They were leaders in making birds-eye view illustrations of factories)

Peter De Smidt
17-Sep-2016, 12:05
Extreme measure are great if you have the time, resources, permissions, budget..... I did have a heavy duty ladder with me. It wasn't suitable for the location in question. Something like a Gitzo 1504 would've been very helpful, and I could've handled it by myself.

Kirk Gittings
17-Sep-2016, 19:54
Awhile ago, I was on a commercial shoot at MOWA, an art museum in a small Wisconsin town. While waiting for the talent, I took some quick snaps of the building, which turned out well. Being interested in architectural photography, I decided to go back in the evening for a twilight shot, which I did with my dslr. The shot was challenging, as the angle I wanted to shoot from required being partly down a hill, which means shooting up, which leads to extreme converging vertical lines. But it turned out ok. Wanting to do better, I went back the other night with my 8x10, whereupon I learned a number of important things:

1) Take the lens cap off when making an exposure.
2) Wind sucks with big cameras. Just keeping the BlackJacket from covering the ground glass was a real challenge! I have a lot of respect for people who use 8x10 out in the field.
3) People lie, especially about when they'll turn off lights.
4) People don't care about what you're doing, even if you explain it to them. They won't walk a few feet to the right, for example, to stay out of your picture. Staff of art museums don't care about helping local artists make art, even when there have been no visitors to the museum in over 3 hours.
5) If you're doing a long exposure, say 2 or 4 minutes, make sure to keep a lens cap handy in case people walk into the shot. No one may have walked by for hours, but when the light is right....
6) Don't listen to experts that tell you to leave your tripod head at home. Yes, a camera fixed to the tripod directly will be more stable than one attached to a head, especially with big cameras, but you might not be able to get the camera in the best location and aimed correctly without a head. If I hadn't had sandbags along, I'd have been out of luck. As it was, I had to shoot from a lower position than I would've liked.
7)It would be wonderful to have a really tall tripod.

So.........in general, I always have an assistant or two. One inside the building coordinating our plans and solving problems (like lights being turned off that we want on-connected to me via iPhones) and one with me to direct car and human traffic away from the picture or whatever comes up outside. One assistant is my guy who has been with me for 18 years. The other may be my client or his employee. There is no way one person can control all of this activity. If a client isn't willing to pay for this "team" then they don't want the shoot done right and me to do it. I would stop doing commercial AP if I had to do it alone. And yes I have a really tall tripod and a step ladder to reach the camera. And yes I always use a tripod head under any and all circumstances. People don't care what you are trying to do and sometimes to get the job done you have to be an Ahole and take no prisoners. And we always carry a wind blocker and an umbrella for rain. But there is always some new problem. After 38 years doing this I have not exhausted all potential problems.

Peter De Smidt
17-Sep-2016, 21:43
Kirk, that's all good stuff....if this were a commercial shoot. But it wasn't. It's me alone or nothing.

8x10 in this situation was a lot harder than it would've been with 4x5, but I didn't have a wide enough lens for 4x5, and so I gave this a shot. I have a good camera for this type of thing, and I still have a fair amount of 8x10 Acros, the best film for long exposures. It could very well turn out to be a complete waste of time, effort, and money. On casual inspection, though, the first negative looks good. Hopefully, I'll have time to scan it tomorrow.

Alan Gales
17-Sep-2016, 21:45
But there is always some new problem. After 38 years doing this I have not exhausted all potential problems.

Especially when you deal with people. I swear that sometimes they get in my way on purpose!

Leigh
17-Sep-2016, 21:52
After 38 years doing this I have not exhausted all potential problems.
Have faith, Brother.

I've got 24 years on you, and I still haven't exhausted all the problems.

So you have lots to look forward to. :cool:

- Leigh

Kirk Gittings
18-Sep-2016, 09:43
Kirk, that's all good stuff....if this were a commercial shoot. But it wasn't. It's me alone or nothing.

8x10 in this situation was a lot harder than it would've been with 4x5, but I didn't have a wide enough lens for 4x5, and so I gave this a shot. I have a good camera for this type of thing, and I still have a fair amount of 8x10 Acros, the best film for long exposures. It could very well turn out to be a complete waste of time, effort, and money. On casual inspection, though, the first negative looks good. Hopefully, I'll have time to scan it tomorrow.

It doesn't matter that I was shooting commercially or not. The playing field is the same. It's occupied public architecture filled with people on their own missions and you are in the way. It's not like the universe gets nicer to you because you are working for yourself and just love the building:) As a matter of fact it can be harder because you have no "official" reason to be shooting. I rarely shoot occupied architecture for myself. It doesn't interest me for my personal work. But if I did I would still want help to try and control the variables, ie with family, friends or trained geese :)

David Karp
18-Sep-2016, 10:21
A neutral density filter can be helpful to lengthen the exposures. I made some photos inside a train station at night. The exposure was so long that a train came into the station, a fairly large group came through the station and walked past me, through the line of my camera's vision, and out the door. There is one extremely slight bit of ghosting from the exiting passengers. I was amazed when I saw the print.

Of course, that increases the odds of problems due to wind, or someone parking in front of you, etc.

Kirk Gittings
18-Sep-2016, 11:19
Especially when you deal with people. I swear that sometimes they get in my way on purpose!

Without doubt. I was once shooting a building full of lawyers and had to stretch a cord across a the floor at the bottom of stairs taped down but not completely as we didn't have enough tape with us. I swear that half the lawyers saw the cord and intentionally tried to trip over it. One guy went back and forth three times and tried it every time. The last time I finally was able to make eye contact with him and he got this smile like I had caught him in the cookie jar.

Kirk Gittings
18-Sep-2016, 11:20
Have faith, Brother.

I've got 24 years on you, and I still haven't exhausted all the problems.

So you have lots to look forward to. :cool:

- Leigh

:) I don't feel like a kid at 66, but from your POV...........

tgtaylor
18-Sep-2016, 11:38
People getting into the composition is where I seem to always have a problem. You come across a composition that is in every respects perfect and there is no one else around or in the way but just as soon as you set-up, BAM, there they are.

The print shown on my homepage is a perfect example: It was late in the day when I came across this and the light was rapidly fading and the office (far building on the right) was unoccupied with the lights turned off. There was a small mound with a picnic table on top and I put the pack on the table and climbed up. I got the tripod set-up and when I reached down to get the camera (Toyo AX), a group of up to 10 were making their way along the walkway to the office to check-in, I imagine. I stopped them with a firm voice telling them that I needed a minute to get this picture and they dutifully stopped and watched. I quickly set the camera, composed and focused, took a reading with the light meter, inserted a film holder and took the shot. It came out perfect capturing the lighthouse complex, the late hour, the coastal fog...everything a perfect exposure. If I wouldn't have said anything to the group, they would have been in and around the office which would have been lit-up and the ambiance would have been ruined.

Thomas

Peter De Smidt
18-Sep-2016, 12:41
As someone who's been a professional assistant for a decade, I agree that it's always better to have someone else along.

What gets me a little bit is that if it is a commercial shoot, people will go out of their way to help, even when it's not for their company. I first shot at this location for a commercial shoot for a health care provider. The marketing gals hadn't talked to the museum staff ahead of time, a big mistake in my view. The shot was of a medical van taking a hospice patient to the museum. We wanted to pull the medical van up onto the space right in front of the doors, about 20 feet from the driving area. The shoot would require blocking the entrance for about 15 minutes. We went in an talked to the staff. "Sure! No Problem!" But when I'm there non-commercially, and at a time when no visitors are there, they turn off lights 20 minutes earlier than they said they would, and staff walked right in front of the very large camera. They literally had a football field sized area in which to walk.

Kirk Gittings
18-Sep-2016, 13:06
That is indeed oftentimes true unfortunately. I think working people want to help other working people get their work done. Most people get that. Sure there are assholes everywhere but mostly...... But if you are doing it for yourself it's like "FU I'm working here and your just playing around-wait till I'm good and ready". Of course there are exceptions in that scenario too of course.

Alan Gales
18-Sep-2016, 15:27
Without doubt. I was once shooting a building full of lawyers and had to stretch a cord across a the floor at the bottom of stairs taped down but not completely as we didn't have enough tape with us. I swear that half the lawyers saw the cord and intentionally tried to trip over it. One guy went back and forth three times and tried it every time. The last time I finally was able to make eye contact with him and he got this smile like I had caught him in the cookie jar.

I believe it!

Next time you shoot a building full of lawyers leave your camera at home and borrow something from Eddie! ;)

Peter De Smidt
18-Sep-2016, 15:41
I have noticed, though, that when you're taking a picture of the CEO or the Board of Directors, that those types of problems disappear. :)

Thom Bennett
18-Sep-2016, 18:45
Here's an option, used by Ezra Stoller:

Whoa! Now that's a custom solution.

Kirk Gittings
18-Sep-2016, 20:08
I believe it!

Next time you shoot a building full of lawyers leave your camera at home and borrow something from Eddie! ;)

:) eddie!

Kirk Gittings
18-Sep-2016, 20:10
I have noticed, though, that when you're taking a picture of the CEO or the Board of Directors, that those types of problems disappear. :)

Indeed. When I am shooting for the architect and the owner, I make that known broadly. It solves most problems quickly. I've had that issue recently shooting BMW dealerships in ABQ and Santa Fe for the architect and owner both of whom are personal friends. When in doubt I say "that's the way Mike wants it" and the problem is solved. Mike is the owner and I know his POV very well.

John Kasaian
19-Sep-2016, 16:27
The last problem I had was a night shot of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk from a small public park higher up on the opposite bank of the San Lorenzo River, which I've named "Dog Poop Park" because....yeah.
It makes night photography more interesting and the drive back to Fresno, well, fragrant.

Leigh
19-Sep-2016, 16:39
... which I've named "Dog Poop Park" because....yeah.
A bright flashlight and a keen eye are your friends.

- Leigh

Alan Gales
20-Sep-2016, 15:27
The last problem I had was a night shot of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk from a small public park higher up on the opposite bank of the San Lorenzo River, which I've named "Dog Poop Park" because....yeah.
It makes night photography more interesting and the drive back to Fresno, well, fragrant.

Just remember to clean your tripod spikes and your shoes well! ;)

My daughter's old grade school had an asphalt playground and also a large grassy area. We tried to use the grassy area for practicing pitching softball but it was so filled with dog poop that we couldn't use it. It's a shame how some people are with their dogs. That grassy area was supposed to be used for gym classes.